Manager Recognition Matters for Employee Engagement and Retention
With the tenure of knowledge workers reported to be less than three years at a single company, the importance of engaging and retaining high-performers continues to grow. Beyond the feel-good part about recognition that confirms that you were noticed and appreciated, the link between manager recognition and engagement encourages future discretionary effort and increases employees’ intent to stay longer at their company.
Recognition matters a great deal to the recipient, but it also benefits the organization as a whole. Our recent survey of over half a million employees from more than 8,000 organizations revealed that recognition is one of the top five drivers of employee engagement. Yet less than half of those surveyed felt satisfied or encouraged by recognition from their superiors.
Employees really want to hear from their managers when they have done well. Why don’t more managers understand the link between manager recognition and engagement?
Managers, Why the Silence?
It wasn’t until we dug deeper that we began to understand why managers weren’t consistently praising their employees when they delivered above and beyond. There are basically three reasons.
1. Managers Did Not Appreciate the Value of Recognition
Many managers do not have a clue as to how much their recognition matters to their employees. Some are so buried in their own work and so focused on reaching their goals that they forget about the link between manager recognition and engagement and how much even a simple pat on the back can mean.
Secondly, while effort is typically spent on teaching managers how to deliver negative feedback, managers are rarely taught how to use positive feedback as a necessary and important component of performance management. Managers with highly engaged teams let their employees know they are watching and how much they appreciate extraordinary work.
2. Managers Did Not See Recognition as Valued by Their Superiors
Because they do not receive consistent or meaningful recognition themselves, many managers do not believe that recognition is something that company executives believe makes a difference. Smart executives measure their managers by their employees’ level of engagement and know that employee recognition is a fundamental component to increasing employee engagement.
3. Managers Did Not Have Easy Ways to Show Their Appreciation
Managers admitted to not knowing just how to best recognize their best employees. While it may seem simple, there is an art to giving meaningful, proportionate and authentic recognition. Make it easy for managers by setting up systems and processes that will point out who deserves special appreciation and then provide ideas for how to reward employees in a way that is meaningful and aligns with your corporate culture.
The Bottom Line
All organizations want to improve performance. The ones that count on their people for success want to improve employee engagement and retention. One powerful way to do both is to provide meaningful, appropriate and timely rewards and recognition.
Make sure your managers understand the value of recognition to the individual employee and to the organization. Then provide the resources and tools for them to consistently deliver that value.
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