04 AUG, 2016

Recognition Lingo: Effective Words to Use with Employee Appreciation

Typewriter with Thanks on Paper

This post originally appeared on HR.com.

Recognizing and rewarding employees for great work is one of the most effective ways to maintain a happy and engaged workforce. While people enjoy receiving money and prizes, material things should not overshadow the recognition itself. Even a monetary reward should be accompanied by a message that both expresses gratitude and identifies the action or accomplishment that warranted it.

Sometimes a genuine show of employee appreciation with words is far more impactful than money will ever be. A simple “thank you” is a powerful in itself.  Acknowledging individual or team contributions tells employees that you pay attention and that their work is valuable. Along with a healthy dose of constructive criticism, regular recognition and praise can foster a positive company culture, increase employee engagement, drive productivity, and help you retain your best employees.

Though nice on occasion, employees are not expecting grand gestures. The right combination of supportive words can inspire productivity, reinforce good work behavior, and put a smile on someone’s face. Use positive language to make your employees feel valued.

  • You: “You” is a simple but effective pronoun. To some, it’s the most powerful word in our language. This word personalizes your message and makes it more relevant to the receiver. It also forces you as the messenger to consider what it is about the particular employee you want to acknowledge.
  • Thank You: While “thank you” may seem like an obvious way to recognize a job well done, too often it goes unsaid. In the moment, all it takes is a simple “thank you” to let someone know you’re grateful for their efforts.
  • Results: Both companies and employees want results. When you identify the results of someone’s work, you acknowledge that the employee’s time was worthwhile, purposeful, and had a measurable impact on the organization.
  • Because: Because is a word of justification and is used to support a point. This word indicates that your message of recognition is not just lip service: you’re backing it up with specific reasons, ultimately making the statement more meaningful, further reinforcing the desired good work behavior.
  • Core Value: Recognition is most effective when it aligns with your company’s core values. So when you recognize an employee’s accomplishment, be sure to let them know that they embodied a company core value and name that value, whether that is teamwork, innovation, customer service, etc. In doing so you are showing that employee as well as others what types of actions support the core values you are trying to embody as an organization.

Any type of recognition is a great idea, whether it’s face-to-face, via email, or with an old-fashioned sticky note. However, the most effective recognition goes beyond a one-to-one communication to involve others in the organization. Using an online employee appreciation program provides a central location for all recognition messages to live. This encourages others to recognize their peers for a job well done, and hopefully persuades them to work harder to receive recognition for their efforts as well.


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