5 Common Mistakes Employers Make With Employee Recognition

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Keeping the best employees engaged and invested in your company is one of the best ways to prevent them from leaving. And one of the top methods of doing exactly this is through employee recognition.

The implementation of employee reward and recognition programs can be extremely beneficial in both the short and long term. Just understanding this concept is a great start. But there are potential pitfalls you can encounter when putting it into practice. Here are five mistakes that too many leaders and organisations make when trying to reward and recognise employees.

The first mistake: Thinking you know what’s best

How to avoid it: Employee awards should, first and foremost, be things that appeal to the people earning them. It just make sense, doesn’t it? Why would anybody get excited about something that they aren’t particularly interested in? When you’re coming up with employee incentive programs, do some research by talking to your team members and trying to figure out what they want. In fact, you can even poll them and directly ask them what they prefer to make sure you hit a home run when reward time comes.

The second mistake: Getting dollar signs in your eyes

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How to avoid it: This concept rings true in several ways. First off, don’t assume people always want money as a reward. Bonuses are nice, and giving them out might be the best method of employee recognition for some. But it might not be optimal for others. Another way money can be a stumbling block is if you think you’re obligated to spend a lot on reward and recognition. This isn’t true, as there are plenty of great cost-effective ways to shower employees with appreciation.

The third mistake: Making it too easy or too hard to be rewarded and recognised

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How to avoid it: One of the toughest parts of crafting a solid employee reward and recognition program is finding that happy medium between making it too easy and too hard. Don’t set targets too low or your workers might take their feet off the gas once they hit their mark. Likewise, making it too hard to earn your appreciation will demoralise the team and make them think it’s impossible to receive their rewards. Use some good old trial and error and take your team’s responses into account to properly calibrate your rewards.

The fourth mistake: Letting materialism drive you

How to avoid it: A thoughtful book or a voucher to a store that aligns with the interests of a worker are great ideas. But don’t be restricted to such presents. Feel free to think outside the box when it comes to rewards and recognition. Hire a training room and have a speaker come and spend an afternoon entertaining and educating your team. Or give them the afternoon off and provide them some great IT training that will help them progress toward achieving their professional goals. Such actions can be much more meaningful and beneficial to your team in the long run.

The fifth mistake: Limiting your idea of what’s rewardable

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How to avoid it: Deciding to dole out employee rewards based on tangible outputs is more than fine. In fact, depending on the size of your business and what product or service you offer, it might be the best option to let output production guide your recognising hand. But more often than not, expanding your idea of what deserves recognition is a great idea. Throw some appreciation toward the team member who stayed late one night even when he or she had other plans. Or perhaps recognise somebody who always offers to make tea for colleagues or is consistently doing whatever he or she can to keep team morale up. Untethering yourself from the constraints of hitting production targets opens you up for more creative times and ways to bestow employee awards.

One of the best things about employee reward and recognition is that there is no one perfect way to implement it. The size of your company, what your product or service is and, most importantly, the types of people you have making up your team are all important determining factors when trying to decide the best ways to reward and recognise. Keep those facets and the above tips in mind when trying to figure out how to let your team know you appreciate their efforts. And make sure to check out the Saxons blog for other strong leadership tips to keep your company firing on all cylinders.