It's the age old question: How do you keep your employees productive and happy in the face of the daily grind that is the modern workplace? For many, the fear of losing one's job-and by extension, income-is enough to get them out of their warm beds every morning and into the office. However, fear is a lousy motivator. It urges employees to do the bare minimum in order to retain their positions, and it has a way of sucking any and all enjoyment out of a job. Instead, the better path to take is the one that focuses on employee appreciation and recognition. McKinsey Quarterly, in addition to several other respected business authorities, have all suggested that positive recognition in the workplace is being used less often than it should. This is unfortunate, because when employees are recognized for their good work, they tend to pay their companies back in the form of increased productivity and accuracy. Of course, it's just an added bonus that the workplace environment improves as well, and that job satisfaction goes through the roof. As has been said, recognition, celebration, and hoopla are contagious. Are you a carrier? Here are five reasons why it's a good idea to research employee appreciation ideas.
1. People love praise
While we drudge through the work day, it can be easy to see ourselves as unrecognized and unimportant, and to develop the idea that what we produce doesn't actually matter. A few kind words or a proverbial pat on the back can instantly brighten up someone's day, and let them know how important they are to the overall success of the company.
2. People love prizes
As the saying goes, talk is cheap. That's not necessarily a bad thing; offering praise can improve employee performance without draining the budget. On the other hand, a small gift or bonus can really drive the point home much better than a high-five. The trick is to come up with a healthy mixture of the two. And don't worry; prizes don't actually have to cost all that much either (after all, it's the thought that counts).
3. Recognition causes pleasure
When we are praised and recognized, we feel a tiny burst of pleasure. This is totally normal; it's our brains releasing a little bit of dopamine into our systems, which produces a brief, euphoric excitement. This is nice, not only because it allows us to get just slightly (and legally) high at work, but also because through the release of dopamine into our systems, our brains begin to associate praise and recognition with pleasure, which drives us to repeat the outstanding performance that earned the original commendation. It's a viciously productive cycle.
4. Recognition should be timely and specific
Many companies like to give all-encompassing "years of recognition" rewards to their long-term employees. While this is a nice gesture, it doesn't really do much for the recipient. When you chose to recognize general performance, or when you delay recognition until long after the job has been done, you eliminate its meaning.
5. More and more companies are utilizing recognition programs
The current trend is one that points towards an increase in official recognition programs in companies around the world. In 2013, 88% of businesses had some form of recognition program in place, with 74% reporting that these programs have either met or exceeded company goals.
So, if you feel as though your employees are one bad Monday away from kicking the office printer out the window, consider adopting a recognition program, because all work and no play makes your company and its employees a dull corporation. Spread some cheer among your workforce, and success won't be far behind.
Bio: Jacob Kache works as a consultant for O.C. Tanner, a company dedicated to developing employee recognition and rewards programs that help companies appreciate people who do great work.