To Pay Or To Acknowledge…That Is The Question

Ensuring that your employees are happy is critical in keeping a low turnover rate and a high productivity rate. If your employees aren’t happy they will be searching for new job and / or career opportunities and not producing at the highest level possible, thus increasing your costs to hire new or more employees to complete the jobs your company needs to accomplish on a daily or quarterly basis.

The age-old question is, “How do I keep my employees happy?” The obvious answer is to pay them more. However, this won’t always fix every situation because while your employees may receive higher paychecks, they aren’t being acknowledged continuously. Robert A. Kraft (2010) points out in his article titled Best Practices with Staff: Employees rightly expect to be paid a fair wage, but money is not always the most important factor in keeping your best employees. Everyone wants to be appreciated for good work, and just giving a paycheck twice a month is not adequate to show your appreciation. (p. 33).  

I recommend creating a program where your employees can be recognized on a continual basis for going above and beyond their “job duties” by anyone in your organization. However, if you try to create a program that is too complicated then no one will receive recognition and the program will die on the vine. The simpler, the better.

One program I helped create for a company I used to work with gave employees the opportunity to acknowledge each other once a month. An employee who chose to acknowledge a supervisor, employee, or coworker would fill out a little card with their name on it, the person they were acknowledging, and the reason they felt this person deserved recognition. On the first of the month a member of the Employee Morale Club (a team designed specifically to boost employee morale for the organization) would attach suckers to the cards and deliver them to all of the recipients. The recipient would receive the desired attention and acknowledgement, and the immediate reward.

Another program I helped create for another company was similar in nature, but the acknowledging person would email a form (prefilled out) with their name, the recipient’s name, and why they are recognizing that individual to a designated email address. The person responsible for maintaining this email box, a member of the Employee Engagement Team (a team designed specifically to boost employee morale and engagement in the organization), would print this form and present to the recipient while making as much of a fuss over this person as possible – within reason of course – so that everyone knew this person was being recognized. This program also had monthly and random drawings where the individuals doing the recognizing, and the individuals being recognized, could potentially win a small give card, or gift certificate for company rewards. Some of the gift certificates included free casual days, the ability to come in two hours late or leave two hours early – paid, or take an additional hour for lunch – paid by the company. Again, the recipient would receive the desired attention and acknowledgement, and the ability to receive a reward of their choosing.

In both of these instances the recipients are acknowledged, and not necessarily by their immediate supervisors. While receiving acknowledgement from your boss may be great, let’s face facts, they expect us to perform above and beyond all of the time. It’s our coworkers who generally appreciate our work more than anyone else, so why not give them the chance to do so?

If you attempt a program as mentioned here and it doesn’t work immediately, don’t give up. Change the program to fit the needs of your organization and the individuals in your organization. Solicit feedback from your employees and / or coworkers to find out what they would like to receive as a reward for doing a great job.

Do you have a success story using some form of employee acknowledgement in your organization?

Kraft, R. A. (2010). Best Practices with Staff. GPSolo, 27(7), 30-33. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


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