As job openings hit record highs and businesses struggle to find workers, retaining top talent is more important than ever. However, many employers are relying on old, ineffective methods for attracting and keeping staff. It’s going to take more than free lunches and knickknacks to ensure today’s workers are loyal and productive.
Nowadays, nearly half of U.S. employees are ready to leave their current job due to a lack of recognition and engagement. Meanwhile, 69% cite acknowledgment and rewards as the top factors that would motivate them to remain at their current company. It seems most employers have room for improvement on this front.
Still, a few brands have gone above and beyond when it comes to thanking team members. These businesses set the highest standards for employee appreciation and inspire those looking to follow in their footsteps.
Walt Disney has more than 100 employee awards that include pay raises, plaques, trophies, and public recognition. However, Disney also offers something called Magic Backstage Sweepstakes for employees who work harder. This program allows managers to nominate workers who go the extra mile and enter them into a drawing to win a night in Cinderella’s castle, a free Disney vacation or another grand prize of similar value.
Rewarding hard-working employees with free admission and plaques isn’t expensive for Disney. However, they hold a lot of value for those who put in the time and effort to earn them. Plus, they incentivize other cast members and staff to exemplify company values and provide guests with a magical experience, which will inevitably attract more visitors to the park.
Many employers undervalue peer-to-peer recognition, choosing to focus on the manager-subordinate relationship instead. However, feedback exchange among co-workers is one of the best ways to boost overall recognition and create a more positive, inclusive, and empathetic company culture. Luckily, Zappos has already figured this out and now offers a program that allows team members to give each other $50 for a job well done.
Human resource departments can take a hint from Zappos and easily implement similar peer-to-peer recognition programs within their own companies. Employers can effectively boost morale and team spirit by creating a virtual or physical space in which employees can give and receive feedback or encouragement.
Poor management and subsequent organizational shifts make employees feel undervalued and insignificant. Some may even fear for their job security if the business changes hands. However, companies that truly value their teams will use this transitional time to embed recognition in company culture.
For instance, when GE Healthcare restructured its manufacturing site, employers prioritized continuous communication to streamline the process. As a result, the team created ongoing employee forums where staff can provide feedback and valuable input. In recognizing their ideas, GE gave workers a sense of security and value even after such a major shift.
Public recognition capitalizes on peoples’ innate tendency to improve their behavior, which is just one reason why it’s so effective. Because most employees want to be perceived in a positive light, they'll often work harder when they know a public "thank you" is on the line — regardless of whether a trophy or plaque accompanies it.
What does public recognition look like? Globalization Partners, a company specializing in international talent acquisition, often uses its blog to post press releases about employees’ success. For instance, one January article covering an employee promotion is available for both clients and staff to read.
A work-life balance is key for employees and employers. In fact, those who successfully establish a good balance are twice as happy and more likely to be loyal and productive than those who struggle to maintain balance. Thus, companies that value a healthy workplace experience often have flexible time-off policies.
For instance, Apple often surprises its employees with extra time off or paid leave during the holiday season. The tech giant also customizes this reward to recognize international employees who celebrate different holidays than those in the U.S. Going the extra mile and optimizing this program for a global workforce is evidence of the company’s commitment to nailing its employee strategy.
The U.S. is one of the only industrialized, modernized countries that does not mandate paid parental leave. Instead, many new mothers and fathers must take unpaid time off from work unless their employer offers an extended program. Netflix is different. The tech giant provides a full year of paid family leave to adoptive and birth parents of any gender.
This kind of recognition has the potential to retain more employees and attract swathes of applicants. Thus, adding paid parental leave to an employee benefits package might be an effective way to grow teams fast.
A recent survey revealed that one-third of those who quit their jobs lacked career growth and development. However, most companies report offering career development tools. A lack of recognition might be to blame for this obvious disconnect. Maybe these companies provide the means but not the guidance and mentorship employees need to succeed. In this case, creating a more comprehensive learning program is necessary to recognize and meet staff needs.
Among the major companies leading the way is Deloitte. The tax consulting firm provides a wide array of growth opportunities in the form of full leadership programs. Career sponsorship and mentoring are also available as Deloitte recognizes them as critical keys to success.
Sometimes, a simple thank you is all the recognition employees need to boost productivity and maintain motivation. For instance, German utility company E.On implements a recognition program that encourages managers and employees to send thank you cards to one another. The notes can be physical or digital as long as they’re personal and genuine.
In the months after initiating this program, E.On’s staff motivation score increased 8%, and the number of employees who felt valued shot up 13%. The results speak for themselves, and other companies would do well to follow suit. Studies show that while 33% of staff prefer recognition in the form of personalized cards or emails, only 25% actually receive them.
Companies with a global workforce and a solid recognition program need a cohesive platform to engage employees effectively. This allows staff to log in with personalized credentials, view everyone's achievements and contribute to each others’ success at the company.
General Motors recently switched to such a platform and witnessed a stunning 97% activation rate. Now, 70% of employees are active in the program, and most receive about one recognition per month. The GM Recognition Program successfully cultivates a culture of appreciation where everyone can align their behavior with company values and theory.
Like General Motors, Meijer recently turned to an online recognition platform to engage employees, build a strong company culture and minimize turnover. However, the retailer went the extra mile when it created the app Meijer Wire. This mobile-friendly solution facilitates recognition anywhere, even when employees are on the go. Here, staff can find articles about fellow team members and access company news with the tap of a finger.
An app might be overkill for small businesses. However, a mobile recognition solution may be the best way to connect and express appreciation for large companies with dispersed locations.
While most companies have some kind of recognition program in place, most could use an update. As employee needs change and teams expand, systems will require improving, and management will have to find new ways to express gratitude. Regardless of what that looks like, companies everywhere must prioritize personal, authentic recognition. Otherwise, the programs, apps, and solutions will all be for naught.
About Author: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!