In this age of COVID-19, your employees are taking on an even greater role when it comes to serving your customers. The work the industry is doing has been nothing short of amazing in the midst of a global pandemic. Yet, a Gallup survey revealed that 65% of employees haven’t received recognition in the last year. This directly correlates to the studies that consistently report that two-thirds of American workers are disengaged.
Employee Consultant and Author Liz Uram (Lizuram.com), reported that employees who don’t receive recognition are 51% more likely to look for another job; are less motivated to produce more and better work; and they are less likely to respect you as a leader. These numbers will likely only intensify as we ride out the coronavirus pandemic and employees are pushed to do even more.
Numerous studies over the years have shown that great employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. In challenging times like these, you cannot afford to lose extraordinary frontline talent because of poor leadership.
Back in March, Brian Unrue, director of operations for Clark’s Pump-N-Shop, recognized that the coronavirus was going to be far worse than most people predicted. He told me then that his immediate emphasis was going to be developing an action plan to take care of his team. “If we are going to keep our doors open, it’s going to be because of our people and their dedication to their work,” he said, “so we’ll do everything we can to take care of them.”
True to his word, Clark’s has been one of the leaders in the industry, recognizing the hard work its team members do every day, and should be commended for the outstanding work it has done. The company increased employee pay, focused on their well-being and stepped up its praise of team members on social media. According to Uram, this is a winning strategy that will benefit the brand in the long term.
“It’s easy to see that one of the most important communication skills in a leader’s skill kit is the ability to give positive feedback,” Uram said. “This is also one of the most underdeveloped skills for many leaders. The reason is that some leaders just don’t know where to start.”
In fact, Uram said, praising employees with positive reinforcement will keep your best employees happy and likely lead to them being even more productive.
“Keep this phrase in mind: ‘What gets rewarded gets repeated.’ If you want them to keep doing their job, let them know that their work is appreciated,” she said.
The Gallup study seems to back this up. The survey concluded that 81% of employees would produce better work more often if they received personal recognition for their efforts. That seems like a good return on investment for a few sincere words of appreciation.
One question leaders often struggle with is, “Should I praise in public or in private?”
According to Uram, you should give your praise where the employee is most comfortable. “However, many leaders are hesitant to give recognition in public. They worry that it will create jealousy or resentment. Forget those fears,” she said.
One benefit of praising in public is that it shows the lower performers what’s possible. It can actually be the shot in the arm they need to step up. Looking for opportunities to give shoutouts for positive behaviors, both big and small, in public creates a culture of appreciation.
“You might even notice team members praising each other, which will result in increased morale and trust,” Uram said. “One study showed that 90% of direct reports agree that team spirit is increased when the leader provides appreciation and support.”
The benefits of appreciation are clear: increased retention; motivated team members who work hard; and respect for your leadership teams, Uram concluded. Start catching people in the act of doing things right, and they will reward your efforts.
For any questions about this issue or suggestions for future issues, please contact me at [email protected].