Social recognition: the modern secret to employee happiness

Hannah Sims · 30 Mar

As we preach on a daily basis, happy employees mean happy profit margins.

Yet, despite this well-known fact, companies consistently struggle to put into place health and well-being programs that are either manageable in the long-term, or that truly deliver the vibrant, happy and healthy employees that they envisage. For all too many companies this can lead to ever expanding budgets and more and more soft costs in the form of the time taken out of the day to manage the programs.

Still it is only now that the business world is truly clocking on to the things that make for lower staff turnovers and better productivity. That is to say, they are only just starting to focus on making sure every employee feels trusted, appreciated and respected. These three key elements are all inherently linked to social recognition, and here we take a look at how you can introduce these values to your business.

The 4 core ingredients for employee happiness

Forget about what you think you know about employee wellbeing.

As increasing bodies of research find it is not necessarily work-life balance, diet, exercise or anything in between that makes for a happy workplace. Rather, it’s a workplace that boasts:

1. Trust
2. Collaboration
3. Employee visibility
4. Employee voices that are truly heard by the management above them

Social recognition in four simple steps

Social recognition is completely transforming corporate recognition programmes and the cultures that so defines the very ways in which we do business. Yet this inherently valuable approach is far from complex to implement, and within four simple steps you can look reward to a thriving environment within which your employees feel valued, where they are socially recognised and where they achieve optimal productivity.

1. Make recognition meaningful and provide it frequently
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Within our personal lives recognition comes often and is natural – from talking about our days and the little things that we may have achieved to updating our social media statuses that can be celebrated in flurry of likes.

Yet, within the workplace, recognition is stilted, unnatural and all too often, non-forthcoming. Transitioning to a workplace where recognition for positive efforts is made often is something that can only be achieved with conscious effort, where managers thank their staff each day, where workers are provided with weekly feedback where their achievements are celebrated (such as employee of the week initiatives) and where the chance for continual career advancement is always possible, rather than years away.

2. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
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Key to healthy collaborative working environments is allowing employees a platform where they can recognise one another’s efforts, where peer-to-peer recognition can be provided. This goes beyond the running of a manager-decided ‘Employee of the Week’ initiative to be something that is hierarchy-neutral, where being recognised is as important as providing others with recognition.
Such a scheme could be as simple as creating a ‘recognition box’, where every day each employee writes down a single employee’s efforts that day, which can then be read at team meetings. For an additional feel-good factor (as well as more employee motivation) you can even add in financial and non-financial rewards for the most recognised each day, week or month.

3. Streamline and supercharge communication
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Social recognition in itself is a natural way of improving communication, yet involving employees within commercial conversations themselves can equally make employees feel appreciated and respected (those very three goals that social recognition aims to achieve).

A simple way of implementing this is to create a company ideas scheme, where employees can suggest improvements for their department, for general operations or even for business direction. Should an idea by taken up, there could then be a reward for the employee who suggested it.

4. Take recognition of the little things
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As a final pointer, it’s important to remember that social recognition shouldn’t merely be something that creates prize winners each week or month, nor should it be something that is only for the ‘best’ employees. It should aim to recognise each and every employee. Key to this is creating a culture within which managers and workers appreciate, recognise and thank one another for the things that make their lives that little bit easier.

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