Small firms can reap big rewards (Web sight)

Recognition doesn't need a big price tag

Surveys repeatedly rank recognition for a job well done as one of the top factors for motivating employees. And while a hearty handshake and a sincere “thank you” go a long way in recognizing employees’ efforts, many firms go a step further and establish formal recognition programs. Larger organizations often have a dedicated staff who can set up and maintain a recognition program, while smaller firms don’t have the same resources to dedicate to such programs. But with a bit of effort, there are several ways that small- or medium-sized employers can create an effective, low-maintenance program

Recognition firms;;;

Several companies, including Terryberry, O.C. Tanner, Williams Recognition and I Love Rewards, create and administer recognition programs on behalf of organizations. Consultants at O.C. Tanner help employers “determine specific program goals, values-based program criteria and the measurements that matter most to your organization.” And according to the I Love Rewards site, “With points earned, users are able to choose their own reward through a secure website and have their reward delivered to their door.”

Small businesses, big rewards

“Small Business, Big Rewards,” an article on the Manage Smarter site, offers “tips and tools for implementing small-scale programs with limited resources.” Click on the “Publications” link at the top of the page, then scroll down to the section on “Incentives” to read this article, which includes solid advice such as keeping paperwork minimal, making the rewards achievable and memorable, not expensive. The article says, “A limited budget can be supplemented by an expansive imagination, and in a small office where everyone works together closely, peer recognition and presentation can go a long way.” It goes on to outline case studies of three small firms and how they reward employees. Food plays a key role in rewarding one employer’s team, including candy on a one-year anniversary, ice cream socials, team lunches and all-you-can-eat crab festivals.

Recognition for non-profits

The Human Resources Council for the Voluntary/Non-profit Sector website offers a section on employee recognition, with easy-to-use guidelines for employers. There’s a list of informal ideas, including simple but often overlooked niceties like ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as an obvious but sometimes overlooked form of recognition. Especially as employees in voluntary organizations are called upon to do more with less, spending just a few minutes chatting can open lines of communication and set a positive tone for the day.” Another tip is to write personal notes to employees, which “can be very meaningful. Keep a pack of note cards in your desk for convenience. You could also send an e-mail to acknowledge work well done, with a copy to your superior or the CEO.”

Simple, not fancy, recognition

An article by recognition expert Bob Nelson, “Simple gestures count the most” on the bizjournals site, says that recognition doesn’t have to be fancy, “in fact, the simpler and more direct, the better.” He advocates personally thanking employees for their good work, but if a reminder is needed, use a form. One company “instituted a simple way for managers and employees alike to focus on recognizing others for doing something right. Dubbed the ‘You Done Good Award,’ this simple certificate was printed in pads and could be given to anybody in the company from anybody else in the company. On it, individuals stated what was done, who did it and when, and then gave the certificate to the person.” One employee is quoted as saying, “Even though people say nice things to you, it means something more when people take the time to write their name on a piece of paper and say it.”

150 low-cost ideas

Recognition doesn’t have to cost a lot to be effective. Bob Nelson offers 150 low-cost ideas that have been submitted by attendees of his seminars. These are things that, with minimal planning and effort, can be easily incorporated into a firm’s normal routine. Ideas include giving praise publicly, having a brown bag welcoming lunch to meet new employees, challenging middle managers to write 10 thank you notes before the next staff meeting, allowing employees to leave work early if they are meeting their productivity goals and posting a letter of thanks from a customer.

Ann Macaulay is a freelance editor and regular contributor to Canadian HR Reporter. Her Web Sight column appears regularly in the CloseUp section.

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