One of the hardest parts of maintaining a successful company is keeping employees engaged. While job security used to be more important, today’s employees are more willing to leave a steady job in search for one that brings them more satisfaction. One way to increase retention is to use employee recognition techniques.

Recognition is critical because it increases engagement, which, in turn, improves retention and performance. An engaged employer will try harder and feel less pressure to quit. Yet 65% employers in the workforce don’t feel engaged. This means that many companies suffer from unhappy and unproductive employees.

Why Is Employee Recognition So Challenging?

Most employers do not know how to implement an effective employee recognition program. It is easy to forget that recognition comes in many forms. It is not all about raises and promotions. Moreover, not everyone will respond to rewards the same way. Thus, many employee recognition programs fail because the program is not flexible or adaptive enough to compensate diverse employees. Some managers also struggle with recognition because they tend to see negatives and ignore the positives.

How Can Managers Improve Their Approach to Recognition?

First and foremost, you must be consistent. Recognition cannot be an event you do once a year, such as an annual performance review. You need to give employees continual positive feedback. Employees want to feel valued. More importantly, they want to know that the work they are doing matters. Consistency is the only way you can give employees the reassurance they need.

While it would be ideal if recognition could just happen naturally, it does not work that way. You need to schedule time to recognize employees and you need to think about what positive feedback you give them in advance. This will ensure that feedback is fair and distributed evenly. If you are not used to giving people positive feedback, which is true of many managers, it helps to rehearse. People in leadership positions tend to have strong opinions and are trained to criticize. This can make giving positive feed-back feel unnatural. As with most activities, practice makes perfect.

Generation Gap

While it is common for older generations to stay with a single company for ten or even twenty years, younger generations are more open-minded when it comes to job-hopping. This is one reason many retention programs focus heavily on recognition. Young professionals want recognition and having a smart recognition program is the best way to make sure your top talent stays with your company long-term.

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