Human beings will go to great lengths to feel valued. It's an innate need we all have.
We also have a deep desire to create value; to be a contributor; to be a solution; to improve life.
The difficulty with human nature, particularly with relationships between people, is it's difficult to understand how another person desires to feel valued and the ways they desire to contribute or create value.
Gary Chapman's book "The 5 Love Languages" illustrates the different ways people desire to receive and provide value.
He identified the following core ways people express and receive value (or love in his book):
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Of course in a business environment physical touch might be a bad idea when attempting to demonstrate recognition.
Toby would definitely shoot that idea down.
But when it comes to recognizing people in your office as a part of your employee engagement strategy, it's important to understand how each employee will truly feel recognized and valued.
On a human level this is the most important part about employee recognition. It's not about the bottom line or performance.
Recognizing people isn't just about acknowledging them or their work. It's about recognizing them as a person with specific needs and desires and then engaging with them in the ways that actually fulfills their unique personal value bank account.
If words of affirmation speak their value language then a gift isn't going to satisfy their need when all they want is for you to say good job.
Effective leaders take time to understand their people and make it a point to be aware of the proper ways to recognize their people.
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Now from a business perspective and employee engagement strategy, there are at least 5 very real ways employee recognition yields a positive ROI for your company.
When teams celebrate success and the contributions of team members they develop a unified bond. Especially if they have a shared sense of purpose and direction.
When a business unit or department is recognized by other business units and departments within the company it provides a huge boost in morale, confidence, belonging and fills up the personal value bank account for each team member.
The team bond is also strengthened by this action and has a ripple effect on other teams to boost their performance so they can have a similar feeling of recognition and contribution.
A natural result of increased team unity is team focus.
The demands on teams and individuals within teams continues to grow. The unfortunate bi-product of the simplification of processes that comes with software is an increased demand of new things to do because other tasks have been handled.
However when teams and individuals are recognized often, engagement and energy stay high – which keeps attention and work focused.
3. Talent Acquisition
Imagine the value your company would gain if it was ranked as one of the best places to work in your state.
What if your company was consistently rated as a terrible place to work by former employees on Glassdoor or google?
It's a simple conclusion that employee engagement and recognition have a huge impact on your ability to attract new and good talent.
Even if you lose good people, which happens, those good people will leave on good terms and still speak with reverence and nostalgia about the the time they spent with your company.
4. Talent Retention
A natural by product of consistently being rated as a great place to work is employee retention.
And guess what, recognition and engagement play a major role in the reasons why people stay at or leave a company.
If you don't have a solid employee engagement or recognition strategy your retention numbers are probably on the low side.
Which brings us to the last item:
There are numerous studies about the value of long term employees.
Provided there is a strong internal company culture, long term employees simplify processes, increase institutional knowledge, reduce expenses, increase productivity, and provide better more rounded customer service because they have a deep understanding of the company.
So if you want to take employee engagement through the "bottom line" conversation then reasons 1-4 above are great arguments for the impact of employee engagement and recognition on the bottom line.
Treat your people well and they'll care about what you care about for the company and its direction.
Interestingly, when employees act out or are difficult it's usually because they don't feel valued or needed – either at work or in their lives outside of work.
Remember, they are people. And our behavior as human beings is largely a result of how we feel about ourselves, what we believe others feel about us, and whether we are able to succeed at the things we need to get done.
We all have a scale of values about what is important to us and we'll go to great lengths to fill the need of being valued.
Take some time and find out the value languages of your people, be aware of their value bank accounts and be sure to keep them filled.
It pays to be a people person. Not only in the richness and depth of relationships you'll develop; but also in the richness and success of your company.