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Worker’s Day: Value your employees

Mother Teresa said that there is a greater hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. An interesting thought when you consider that your employees are a critical cog to the success of your business. Are you ensuring that these individuals feel valued?

1 May 2015 is Worker’s Day. Just a few days later is National Receptionist Day on the 13th. These two holidays speak to a significant concept in the workplace – the importance of giving staff adequate recognition and appreciation for a job well done.

Employee recognition is about acknowledging the behaviour, work result or effort made by an individual, which supports the overall goals and values of the organisation. In other words, giving your employee a pat on the back for going above and beyond to ensure that the business gets closer to where it needs to be.

You may think that, because you’re paying someone a salary, the least you can expect from them is to do a decent job. This is true to an extent, but a little acknowledgment goes a long way. To be an effective leader, you need to understand the psychology of praising others for their good work.

According to an Ipsos Global and Reuters study, South Africa is a nation of workaholics with only 53% of employees using their annual leave. The unfortunate and costly result is that they are literally working themselves to death. In fact, research conducted by Statistics South Africa shows that employee absenteeism, directly attributed to workplace stress, burnout and employee ill health, is costing the economy between R12-billion and 16-billion annually.

While not every employee is working themselves to the bone, it is in our interest as business owners and leaders to provide thanks and recognition to those that go the extra mile. Whether you have a single assistant, or a workforce of over 500 people, a gesture of gratitude for a job well done is never out of place. More than anything else, human beings thrive on affirmation, and when some see others getting that affirmation, they often want more of the same.

Appreciation is a fundamental human need. If an employee feels valued, their satisfaction and productivity will rise because they are motivated to maintain this level of work or improve it. We all enjoy the feeling of being respected and recognised as an individual or member of a group and to feel a sense of achievement for a valiant effort.

Recognition also doesn’t need to come at an extra cost to the company. Spontaneously praising employees is a highly effective (and more sincere) way of saying thanks than to reward employees with something tangible. Recognition through personal, written, electronic and public praise from those you respect at work, given in a timely, specific and sincere way can be a powerful motivator.

The immediate and powerful reinforcement of a desired behaviour sets an example for other employees of the kind of behaviour that’s in line with the organisation’s objectives. It gives individuals and teams the opportunity to recognise good work by other employees and teams, and it enables them to be recognised on the spot for their own good work.

So next time you see an opportunity to recognise an individual for their effort:

  • Thank the person by name
  • State specifically what it is that they did right
  • Explain how this behaviour made you feel (words like ‘proud’ or ‘respectful’ are useful here)
  • Point out the value added to the team or organisation
  • Thank the person again by name for their contribution

You’ll soon find that a little acknowledgment goes a long way to helping solidify relationships, fostering employee engagement and ensuring loyalty to the organisation.

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