Boosting employee morale: six secrets to getting recognition right

For many employees, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ can be very motivating but for some managers, shining a spotlight on excellence is a tricky task.

Saying thank you too often can come across as insincere, while saying it too seldom can lead to employees feeling underappreciated.

Job referral firm Reffind has identified six key ways to recognise great work in your organisation.

Six tips for staff appreciation

1. Be generous

A culture of appreciation boosts morale, so it’s better to be lavish than stingy with recognition. This means constantly being on the lookout for genuine reasons to praise people.

Jamie Pride, managing director, Reffind, says “If you pay attention, you’ll notice the quiet little extras that people do every day, like changing the toner in the copier or making clients feel welcome in reception. These thoughtful little touches can contribute significantly to overall efficiency and performance, so it’s important to give recognition when it’s due.”

2. Be consistent

Not everyone excels at self-promotion, which means some people may do great work without being noticed.

“You need to notice and thank everyone, not just the self-promoters,” suggests Pride. “Overlooking someone’s contribution, especially if you praised someone else for the same thing last week, can be disappointing.”

3. Be timely

Don’t wait to thank people for their work: recognition usually has the most impact when it’s given immediately.

“The longer you wait to thank someone, the more they may be wondering if anyone has even noticed their efforts. Praising them later may not dispel their feelings of disappointment. So as soon as the job is done, make sure they know you appreciate it,” says Pride.

4. Be authentic

It’s important that any recognition given is appropriate and genuine, matching the scale of the employee’s effort.

As Pride says, “If someone stayed at the office all weekend to finish an important project, then a simple thanks won’t cut it. If they emptied the paper shredder, then there’s no need to go over the top in your thanks. Be personal and real in your thanks and it will go a long way.”

5. Be specific

A generic ‘thanks’ rarely has a strong impact on the recipient, while specifically recognising their work not only feels more genuine, but it also reinforces behaviour.

“If you can tie the employees work to a specific corporate goal, that’s perfect. But if you’re giving praise for something less tangible, you can still be specific.’”

6. Be considerate

Some people love the spotlight while others thrive in the background. When thanking them, it’s important to take their preferences into consideration and communicate appreciation in a way that will be most meaningful to the recipient.