The 21st of September marks World Gratitude Day and sees individuals and organisations alike celebrating all that gratitude means to them. Amidst challenging times, showing gratitude for everyone’s hard work has never been more important, and recognising each individual’s contribution is no longer an optional nicety, but a business imperative.  

As Gallup and Workhuman’s recent research found, “Experiencing consistently low levels of recognition is a drain on the employee experience and workplace culture that can have serious repercussions. When organizations fall short on showing employees they are valued, they risk losing their employees altogether.”  

The survey of thousands of employees around the world also revealed that those who receive recognition only a few times a year from a manager, supervisor, or other leader, are 5x as likely to be actively disengaged, 74% more likely to say they do not plan to be at their organisation in one year, and 27% more likely to be struggling.  

Conversely, Gallup and Workhuman found that when recognition hits the mark, employees are 4x as likely to be engaged, 5x as like to see a path to grow at their organisation, and 73% less likely to “always” or “very often” feel burned out. In addition, the research found that by creating a culture of frequent, authentic, and meaningful recognition, organisations can also see benefits to the bottom line, with reduced attrition rates saving a 10,000-employee company over £12 million in employee turnover costs annually – that’s on top of any savings made from increased productivity and engagements as a result of recognition.  

So, what can organisations do this World Gratitude Day to effectively recognise employees and show their gratitude? 

Five tips for improving employee recognition 

At its core, recognition is giving positive feedback that is focused on an employee’s strengths and achievements, and also an expression of thanks and gratitude. There are many forms recognition can take, from managerial feedback and monetary rewards to public peer-to-peer or social recognition.

Whatever recognition looks like at your organisation, when employees are appreciated and recognised for what they do, your workplace and culture (whether in-person, fully remote or hybrid) becomes more inclusive and more human. 

Here are five ways to make the most of what recognition has to offer: 

1. Make recognition easy to give and receive – for everyone 

A recognition programme has to be easy to use and accessible to everyone – otherwise people aren’t going to use it. With the numerous recognition platforms available today, there’s no excuse for not creating a well-designed programme that enables widespread, inclusive participation empowering the entire company as a whole to recognise each other. 

By making recognition something that employees can easily navigate and is something they look forward to participating in, it will become a part of everyday culture and organisations can keep reaping the benefits.  

2. Link recognition to core values 

A recognition programme should embody a company’s core values, and bring them to life for employees every day, enabling them to experience what a company’s goals and values look like first-hand. Connecting values and recognition in this way tells employees what’s important to their employer and enables them to be part of that narrative and the success of the company.   

An effective way to do this is by creating a social recognition programme whose branding looks and feels like it’s part of the organisation – from the language and imagery to actions and achievements people are recognised for. This unites everyone around a common space, and inspires collaboration that is positive, celebratory and connected to core values. 

3. Leverage recognition data  

When done properly, a comprehensive recognition programme and platform can provide invaluable data and easily-accessible insights into what recognition looks like at your organisation. This data can then be used to identify trends – for example, if there’s a disparity in the level of recognition different groups of people might be receiving – and enable leaders to mitigate any issues or build on elements that are working well.  

Data analytics can provide a real action plan, and enable managers to identify top performers, see where people might need more support and generally enable individuals and teams to work in a more collaborative, positive way. 

4. Offer meaningful rewards 

Recognition means different things to different people, and just as the moment of gratitude should be meaningful and memorable, so should the actual recognition rewards themselves. This means they are culturally relevant – the Gallup report for example, found that the UK is most likely to have points-based recognition whereas employees in France receive more monetary-based recognition, and that receiving regular public recognition at least a few times a month is the highest preference in the UK but being thanked in private is the highest preference in France. So, make sure the recognition people receive is the recognition they expect and that means the most to them. 

5. Get executive buy-in 

Having executive support is key to the success of any recognition programme, enabling it to grow and evolve to be able to best serve employees and the company as a whole. Recognition data can be invaluable here, demonstrating to leadership the numerous benefits of having a formal way of appreciating employees and encouraging collaboration in place. One way to demonstrate the value of recognition is to start off small. For example, launch your recognition programme in one country or office, then use the data collected there as evidence of why it should expand further. 

Recognising the human at work 

According to Gallup, “As a culture-building tactic, recognition creates a consistent source of positive regard that allows employees to participate in the culture and benefit from it, regardless of their working arrangement. When employees — whether remote, hybrid or on-site — get the right amount of recognition, they feel more connected to their organization’s culture.”

The Gallup report also identified five factors that drive the effectiveness of an employee recognition programme. Recognition must be: authentic, fulfilling, equitable, embedded in culture and personalised. Altogether, this means recognition should be a way of showing employees every day that your care, that you appreciate the work they do, and that you recognise everything that makes them the unique individual human they are.  

So, this World Gratitude Day, why not take the time to show employees that what they do and who they are is appreciated? 

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