Employee Recognition: Feel the Thanksgiving Spirit All Year Long

By Robert Half November 10, 2016 at 5:00pm

Thanksgiving season is the perfect time of year for finance leaders to remind their employees just how vital they are to the success of the firm and how much their contributions are valued.

Sincere and consistent employee recognition is important because it leads to higher morale, improved retention, and a more engaged workforce that produces higher-quality work.

However, research by our company shows that many managers need to make a greater effort to ensure their accounting and finance staff are, in fact, feeling happy while on the job. IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.®, a Robert Half report, finds that accounting, financial services and finance professionals have lower levels of workplace happiness compared to employees in other industries.

A separate survey by our company also found that more than half of professionals (53 percent) wish they had more insight on how their day-to-day duties make a difference to the organization. Millennial professionals feel the most disconnected, with only 38 percent reporting that they see a direct correlation between their efforts and the company’s performance

The five simple (but essential) employee recognition strategies outlined below can help your team members feel happier at work and more confident that their work is truly appreciated:

1. Look back … and then pay it forward

Over the years that you spent working up to your current leadership position, you reported to any number of managers. Chances are you remember one or two of them specifically because their staff management tactics told you without any doubt they were grateful for you and your work.

Maybe those managers spent an extra few minutes talking with you every week, or always took time to listen to your concerns? Perhaps they always made the point to thank you in person rather than by email? Maybe they threw you a party when you got engaged or celebrated a milestone birthday?

Whatever it was, you remember them for it. Think about the things that your favorite managers from the past did to recognize you and make you feel great. Then, start (or continue) doing those same things for your employees.

2. Think inside — and outside — the wallet

Confirm that you’re providing appropriate compensation to your employees. A common reason good employees quit their jobs? Inadequate salary and benefits.

In addition to attractive starting compensation, annual and spot bonuses can be powerful motivators. However, don’t assume that offering more compensation is the best or only form of employee recognition, though. Cash bonuses and gifts tend to motivate employees only for a short time.

Consider balancing monetary rewards with other perks and benefits such as offering flexible work schedules, sponsoring a career development conference, class or retreat, taking over a least-favorite project, or even giving them a cushy new office chair.

3. Broadcast your appreciation

What’s even better than letting employees know you appreciate their work? Telling the whole office.

The positive effects of employee recognition multiply exponentially when you praise individuals publicly. Consider sending staff-wide congratulatory emails, mentioning top performers in the company newsletter and holding meetings where you tell employees, one by one, exactly what they’re doing well and how their efforts make a positive impact.

4. Put pen to paper

Why not write thank-you notes to employees? This personalized approach offers an effective way to express gratitude, especially if you write notes by hand and tailor your messages to each employee’s achievements and efforts. The employees who get these notes are more likely to remember you for years to come as a thoughtful boss who sincerely valued the contributions of your team members.

5. Have fun

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be a chore. Think about throwing a party for your employees. Take them out of the office just for the fun of it, or create a game where everyone gets a nod for their unique contributions to the team. You can even ask all your staff members to take part in acknowledging and commending their colleagues’ efforts.

As you get more creative with these ideas, and do them regularly, you will help to foster a workplace culture that puts both employee recognition and employee happiness front and center.

More resources for managers

The above strategies are just some ways for finance leaders to ensure they keep a focus on employee recognition. For more ideas, visit Robert Half’s Workplace Research Center. There, you can access a wide range of resources on topics ranging from how to maximize employee productivity to preparing to manage Generation Z.

This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.

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