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How To Build A Consistent Employee Recognition Habit In 2023

Learn how to make employee recognition a priority for your organization.

Amanda Cross

by Amanda Cross - January 3rd, 2023

Recruiting talent has been a top priority for employers in the past few years. While this continues to be an essential HR role, companies are beginning to understand the value of retaining top talent. A recent Gartner survey found that employee experience is a top priority for 47% of HR leaders. As HR pros consider what creating a great experience looks like, many will discover that practices like employee recognition can improve engagement and productivity in the workplace.

Unfortunately, many companies need a refined employee recognition habit. If you look at your current worker experience, you'll likely find inconsistencies in how your business handles recognition. Some departments are excelling at giving kudos to team members, while others are left in the lurch.

No matter where your company stands today, 2023 can be the year where you turn it all around. So if you believe recognition should be a priority for your organization, let's look at how to make that happen.

Why Is Consistent Employee Recognition Important?

Before we discuss building a consistent recognition habit in 2023, we must establish why we recognize employees in the first place.

At Nectar, we recently surveyed 800 full-time employees to gather employee recognition statistics for 2023. We found that:

  • 83.6% of employees feel that recognition affects their motivation to succeed at work.

  • 77.9% of employees would be more productive if recognized more frequently.

  • 81.9% of employees agree that praise for their contributions improves their engagement.

Overall, we found that employees feel more valued by employers when they get weekly recognition, but 51% of the employees we surveyed weren’t getting recognition that often.

If you want to improve employee experience in 2023, building a consistent recognition habit is the best way to do it.

7 Tips For Building a Consistent Employee Recognition Practice

Understanding the importance of consistent recognition is vital, but how do you create a process that makes recognition easy? Building a simple recognition habit that you can grow with as you get more comfortable with praising your team is important. Here are seven tips that will make the process of habit-building seamless for you:

1. Shift Your Mindset On Frequent Recognition

You've probably heard that giving too much recognition can spoil your employees or make them complacent at work. Unfortunately, this mindset can cause many managers and executives to hold back on gratitude and saying thanks. For example, many companies wait until the end of the year performance review to give their team significant recognition or praise.

While performance reviews are essential for setting career trajectories, most humans aren't built to find value that way. Feedback and recognition are best given promptly. Think about psychological experiments on positive reinforcement. Often, people try to do things that make them feel good and avoid things that make them feel bad. You build positive reinforcement toward great work when you acknowledge team members regularly.

2. Do a Weekly Reflection

When you are just getting started with giving consistent recognition, it can be challenging to know what to say or who deserves credit. You've likely witnessed a ton of great work, but you may not remember what happened when giving feedback.

Set aside time every week to go over a weekly recognition reflection. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who has been going above and beyond lately?

  • Is there anything that has stuck with me at work?

  • Have I heard any great feedback from customers or other managers?

  • Has anyone been particularly friendly or helpful to me this week?

  • Is there something one of my colleagues did that I need others to hear about?

Once you get into the habit of asking questions like this, you'll be able to come up with tons of colleagues to recognize consistently.

3. Put Time On Your Calendar For Recognition

There's a myth that if you want to do something, you'll find time to do it. Whether you are in a small or large company, you know that there's always something to fill your days with. Even if sharing praise is critical, it can easily fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

So, if you can't find time to recognize others, you've got to make time to do it. Put a few minutes on your calendar every day or a larger block of time every week. During this time, you can give recognition to your team members via email, your favorite chat tool, LinkedIn, or even via a quick phone call. Your team members may not love public recognition, so think about how they would best receive your comments before you offer any praise.

4. Get Other Colleagues Involved

It can be easy to skip a day of the habit you're building when you are the only one who knows about your goal. You may avoid telling others about the patterns you are trying to develop because that accountability makes it hard for you to stop doing something.

Accountability buddies push us to show up and avoid quitting. Encourage your team members to join you on your journey to praise your team more consistently. Set aside a time to check in or provide messages throughout the week with proof that you recognized your team. Checking in with someone else will make you more likely to accomplish your goal.

5. Create a Recognition Challenge (And Keep Going)

There's something about a challenge that's so satisfying to complete. Do you remember the reading challenges that Pizza Hut put on back in the 90s and 2000s? Getting that personal pan pizza was so satisfying after reading new chapter books.

Challenges can work at any age, and they may be just what you need to start your employee recognition habit. For example, you can create a challenge to:

  • Recognize one person every weekday for a month.

  • Give out five LinkedIn recommendations in a week.

  • Showcase employees who excel in a core value at every meeting for a quarter.

  • Highlight one employee who has done well in your monthly newsletter for a year.

  • Give out an employee of the month award for a year.

After you've built your recognition habit with a challenge, keep it going. The momentum you've built with your challenge will only grow if you keep showing up after the experiment is complete.

6. Keep It Simple

Recognizing employees doesn't have to be complicated. It's not about throwing elaborate dinners or buying expensive watches for employees who go above and beyond. Instead, your strategy can be much simpler and easier to manage.

One of the simplest ways to build an employee recognition habit is by using your words. How you speak to employees has a significant impact on them. When you verbalize that an employee is doing a good job and let them know how much their work matters to the company, employees can understand their importance.

Rewards like gift cards, bonuses, and coveted parking spots can significantly extend your recognition, but you have to start somewhere. Figure out what you can do to build your recognition habit, and then expand from there.

7. Use a Tool To Help You Systemize Recognition

After building your recognition habit, you might invest in an employee recognition program. Many companies move to software to run their program because it provides more structure, statistics, and expense tracking for their business.

One of the best employee recognition tools is Nectar. Nectar is an employee recognition software that allows everyone at your company to get involved in employee recognition. Every employee is given a budget to recognize each other throughout the month. These shoutouts live on a social feed where everyone in the company can see what's happening, add comments, and show even more appreciation to any colleague getting recognized. The social aspect of Nectar allows companies to build camaraderie and community (even in a hybrid or remote environment.)

Nectar does more than one-off shoutouts. Companies can use the platform to:

  • Manage awards like Employee Of The Month.

  • Give out automated awards for birthdays and work anniversaries.

  • Host challenges for things like health/fitness goals, learning, and employee referrals.

  • Build an appreciation for the company’s core values and mission.

  • Reward employees with gift cards, company swag, and even Amazon items.

Best of all, Nectar can sync with HRIS platforms like GoCo. Nectar can easily pull data like start date, manager, department, location, and more from your HRIS platform, so you don’t have to spend time updating multiple systems. As new hires onboard and offboard with your company, you can rest easy knowing the changes will be made in Nectar too.

You Can Build a Recognition Habit In 2023

If you're ending 2022 with a disengaged and underperforming workforce, you may need help to turn the tide in 2023. From layoffs to understaffed teams, there's a lot for employees to feel glum about. Building your recognition habit and stretching your appreciation muscles is a great way to show your team how much you care about them.

Your recognition program doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to implement. Simple practices can create the momentum you need to invest more into recognition in 2023. What’s stopping you? Send an appreciative message to a colleague today!

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