It’s no secret that employee recognition matters. Numerous research studies reveal that well over 50% of employees crave more recognition both from their leaders and their immediate peers. Employee recognition is a key driver of retention, engagement, attracting top talent, and numerous key performance indicators.

The challenge is, many organizations do not have formal recognition programs. Or that recognition is inconsistent and does not reach a large enough employee population. And, for some, even small gestures or rewards still cost money that the organization will not support. So, what is a good leader to do?

Engage in the Best No Cost Retention Strategy

And, that is the strategy of praising in a way that is sincere and meaningful. A well-delivered thank you can mean just as much or more to an employee than a form of monetary recognition. Here are a few guidelines that will make delivering the praise easier:   

  • Call people by name. It may seem like a small thing. However, the praise will have more impact if their name is attached to it either out loud or in writing. As with anything, going overboard here will just make everyone uncomfortable. However, starting with someone’s name is always a good idea.
  • Make the praise as immediate as possible. Try to catch people in the act of doing something right. Don’t wait until the end of the day, or worse, for their performance appraisals. Deliver the praise immediately.
  • Put the praise in writing. Even if you deliver it when you first notice the praiseworthy behavior, there is nothing wrong with sending a quick email, writing a quick note, or even posting a sticky note for them to see.
  • Praise publicly if it is appropriate. Even if you have already told the person one-on-one, bring up the subject during team meetings or other events.
  • Remember to have the mindset to praise at least one person every day. If you tell yourself you are going to look for things to praise, you will find things to praise. Trust me. It is how your brain’s architecture works. Give your brain that assignment. It will come through for you.
  • Be willing to praise up! Don’t be afraid to praise your leader. Tell them what you appreciate and how it helps you do your job better. Remember, what gets rewarded, gets repeated. They are far more likely to continue the behavior if they are rewarded with praise. And, as a bonus, you are building your reputation as not only a positive person and a team player, you are also demonstrating that you are a strategic thinker because you are pointing out how what they are doing impacts you and how it makes your job easier.

Praising costs absolutely nothing. It isn’t even very time-consuming and can be done anywhere and with anyone. It is very low on the effort scale and very high on the payoff scale.

Ask yourself, how am I doing? Could I praise more? Could my praise be more sincere? Who can I praise today?

If you, a team member, or an entire team need help to develop the ability to effectively praise or other leadership and communication skills, reach out. Programs are readily available.