New Quarter Resolutions

I resolve to ... recognize, recognize, recognize.

Back in December or January, we all made personal New Year resolutions, whether it was getting fit, spending more time with family, learning something new, or all of above. Why do we make them? We know that if we keep them, they will improve our quality of life.

Employers also have the opportunity to improve the quality of the workplace for their employees. The recession has taken a toll on the workforce. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 40 percent of workers report that they have had difficulty staying motivated over the past year due to greater workloads, longer hours, and strained resources. Another study cites that almost half—48 percent—of workers are not satisfied with their relationships with their bosses.

So no matter the time of year, now is the time to make a resolution, a Recognition Resolution.

What is the Recognition Resolution?

The Recognition Resolution is a commitment employers make to their employees to recognize them more often and in more meaningful ways. Studies show that recognition increases engagement and motivation because when employees are recognized, they become aligned to company goals and have a stronger desire to help the company succeed.

The Gallup Organization, a management, HR, and research consulting firm, found that recognition is a key element in securing employee engagement. In fact, Gallup says that managers should recognize their employees once every seven days.

During times of uncertainty, recognition becomes even more relevant and necessary. The last thing employers want is their "A Players" leaving for greener pastures when the job market picks up because they didn't treat them well or acknowledge them for their extra effort and time. And here's the real wake-up call to employers across the country: According to a Watson Wyatt and WorldatWork survey conducted in late 2009, top-performing employees expressed a 25 percent drop in engagement, and 14 percent of them are less likely to want to remain with their current employers.

Recognition Resolution Rules

Just like with personal resolutions, the Recognition Resolution requires a plan with attainable goals and practices.

1) Make recognition PIC: Positive, Immediate, and Certain. Ensure that when employees are praised for a job well done, it is immediately after they exhibit the positive behavior. Doing this will trigger repeat behavior because the employees know that their positive actions will result in positive feedback.

2) Introduce peer-to-peer recognition. Everyone likes to be recognized by their boss, but in order to truly embed recognition in the workplace, allow employees to recognize their colleagues and peers. It builds momentum among the team and a culture of recognition.

3) Realize that recognition is not one-size-fits-all. Give recognition in the way the receiver wants to receive it, not the way the sender wants to send it. Personalizing recognition makes it much more meaningful. For example, one employee may appreciate a public announcement at a town hall meeting, whereas another may appreciate a lunch with her manager.

Originally published March 1, 2010

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