This week I’ve discussed the death of trust and loyalty in the workplace and the dehumanisation of the workforce, but I didn’t offer many solutions.

Of course, I believe the obvious solution to much of the outfall of these practices is strategic employee recognition. Restoring trust and humanity begins with a simple “thank you” – an acknowledgment that people are noticed, appreciated and recognised for what they do that matters.

But for recognition to be strategic – indeed, for recognition to overcome the death of trust and dehumanisation – it must resonate deeply with employees. It must help them see that they are not cogs in the machine, but deeply valued and appreciated contributors that are helping to achieve the company mission. And the best way to do that is to link every recognition to a story that resonates in that way.

Going back to the Financial Times article I’ve referenced all week:

“Generation Y is looking for a different relationship with employers. ‘Gen Y wants to feel part of a team, a community, rather than being an individual cog in a big corporate machine.’ They expect companies to offer more than a pay cheque, and look to its values to accord with their own. …

“Communication with employees relies on telling them a story that resonates. The organisation’s narrative – ‘where we’ve come from, who we are, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there” – is boring for many employees. But if a colleague can provide a real example of how she put the company’s vision into practice by, say, helping an angry customer, it will have more impact than a mission statement from HR. ‘More important are the personal stories that people tell to bring the organisation’s story to life.’”

I’ve written before on the research in which GenY reports the most important thing to them in an employer is the company mission and values aligning with their own. For all employees, regardless of generation, knowing they are contributing to the company’s success helps reconnect to the organisation, re-energising and re-engaging them in your company’s mission.

As I said in a comment to a TLNT article on restoring trust with candor:

“Tell people how each of them can make a difference. Objectives/goals are a moving target in many organisations right now. Employees may know what their "tasks" are, but they don’t know any more why those tasks matter — how they’re helping the company pull out of the recession and regain a sound footing. That knowledge alone goes very far giving employees a reason to reengage, recommit and trust again.”

What are your solutions for restoring trust and rehumanising the workplace?