I was grocery shopping the other day (Yes, this sometimes happens). A mom with two small kids in tow kept up a constant stream of chatter: “Great job pushing the cart, Stella, you are so smart.” “Good work picking out a pepper, Max, now put it back.” It went on and on – kids do something/anything, mother responds with a positive affirmation, kids do another something, mother reacts. This is so awesome to see in action. I’m in aisle 10 and it continues. There is a giant metaphor unfolding as I seek out my coconut water.
You rock. You’re so special. Nice job putting your toys away. On and on it goes: reflexive praise for doing the right thing and, in many cases, the not-so-right thing. We’re becoming a culture in which people expect to be rewarded for drawing breath and taking up space, which makes the job of an HR pro or business leader tasked with employee retention a difficult one indeed. If many of your employees expect routine and social praise and “badges”, how can you recognize extraordinary achievement? When should recognition and reward be linked?
In many organizations recognition and financial reward are joined at the hip. An employee does something above and beyond and receives a gift card or a lunch with the boss; a team achieves a goal and is rewarded with a party. These rewards, however, can backfire; they tell the employee that he or she is worth n dollars to the organization for some level of effort. In my opinion this approach misses the point of recognition: people are motivated by more than money. People crave positive feedback, recognition they put in extra effort, acknowledgement of leaders and peers, the glow that comes with knowing an achievement has been seen, appreciated and celebrated. I love this place. But I’m also realistic as I look at ways leaders can recruit and truly nurture current and future talent.
Financial reward is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the equivalent of recognition. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a short term solution. Neither is constant praise for average work. Recognition is a key tool in employee retention programs for a reason: people need more than constructive feedback and positive affirmation. They need recognition of extra effort. They need to “feel” it. This will never go away as a basic human need.
An effective approach to employee recognition encompasses these key points…Click here to read the rest of this article by Meghan Biro..