3 ways SMEs can recognise employees

Reward staff

Employees are at the core of any successful organisation, and that is why the best employers understand the value of employee recognition and realise its benefit not only to individual performance, but to the wider company as a whole.

The key benefit is improved motivation, with two thirds of employees reporting to feeling more motivated to stay at their job with the presence of a corporate recognition program. However, recognition not only drives retention, but also leads to improved productivity and greater overall employee output.

There is a common misconception that recognition has to be monetary, for instance celebrating an employee’s achievement with a cash bonus. But luckily for smaller businesses looking to boost employee performance, this isn’t the case.

Instead, there are different levels of recognition schemes available to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes. With this in mind, employee benefits provider, Sodexo Engage, has put together three cost effective ways SMEs should recognise their employees without breaking the bank:

Public appreciation

It may feel a little old fashioned, but publicly appreciating members of staff through initiatives such as ‘employee of the month’ can really go a long way to boosting an individual’s self-confidence. A framed photo on the wall is no longer necessary, and for some employees might be their worst nightmare, but a great alternative would be a regular roundup email highlighting people’s successes or a celebratory social media post.

Over half of employees want more recognition from their manager or supervisor, and public acknowledgment is one of the best ways to do it. Showing appreciation publicly not only tells the employee that their achievement is something that their manager is impressed by, but it’s in fact good enough to be of interest to the whole company. This makes people feel like their work is valued and gives them a sense of understanding of how their individual efforts contribute to the overall company output.

Peer to peer recognition

As beneficial as monthly recognition rewards are, it is imperative that business owners foster an environment of regular and immediate acknowledgment for good work. Immediacy is key as the positive behaviour which earned recognition is more likely to be reinforced if it is highlighted sooner.

A practical way to achieve such an environment is through peer-to-peer recognition. This is because even before the pandemic managers often struggled to keep up with the actions of every single employee they were responsible for, and working remotely has only made this harder. Co-workers meanwhile are more tapped in and attuned to the everyday activity of team members, so it is much easier for them to spot good work. As well as being easier, it is also just as effective as praise from management, with a Harvard Business School study revealing positive recognition from colleagues can increase an employee’s output by seven per cent.

Make it personal

While managers having a professional working relationship with their employees is key, perhaps what is more important is being able to connect with them on a personal level. Recognising your staff as individuals is vital, and going the extra mile when they go the extra mile can show just how much you appreciate their work.

To bring this personal approach to life, managers can consider recognising good work with rewards. Avoid generic one-size-fits-all gifts, and instead provide personalised rewards which the employee will actually appreciate and recognise as their own. Unlike a cash bonus, something like an eVoucher can be tailored towards an employee’s favourite retailer or restaurant.

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments: “While it’s true money is a big driving factor for a lot of employees, we recognise that it isn’t necessarily the key to happiness, productivity and satisfaction in a role. Depending just on financial rewards has in fact got a few pitfalls. The most obvious downside is monetary bonuses are often paid as part of an employee’s salary, which means the reward disappears into their monthly outgoings and isn’t presented with any fanfare.

“Non-monetary rewards are far timelier and offer something tangible which the employee can enjoy immediately. It’s also typically a lot more engagement oriented, for instance a public thank you – something which will hold a lot more value than a bank transaction at the end of the month.”