Employee Recognition Provides the Key to a Better Organization

As American School Bus Councilman Barry Sudduth looks on (at right), East Aurora Assistant Director of Transportation Gladys Martinez presents driver Darrel Degreve with a certificate of appreciation.

Few things produce a greater return on investment than the low- or zero-cost act of recognizing your employees. Even if you don’t have the budget for a formal recognition program, the casual act of praise can significantly increase your employees’ happiness.

In fact, research shows that receiving praise boosts activity in brain areas that are related to rewards, positive emotions and decision making.

A Cornell University paper on recognition in the workplace points out, “While recognition is not new, it is finally becoming more strategic as programs align recognition with business objectives and desired behavior.”

It’s safe to say that recognition has a big impact on any business and its employees. That could be as simple as celebrating a staff member’s birthday or work anniversary or bestowing accolades on them for exceptional work. The benefits of expressing your appreciation of employees begin with engagement.

On the flip side, disengaged employees can cost your business or school district thousands of dollars, because they’re not concerned about being efficient during their work hours. Instead, they tend to waste time and engage in countless distractions, trying to get through the day in whatever way they can.

For example, if you have an employee who wastes 15 minutes a day, that’s one hour and 15 minutes per week, or over 3 percent of the time you are paying them. This lost productivity from one worker can add up huge in a year.

To avoid the lost productivity of disengaged or toxic workers, you might be tempted to block social media sites from company or district computers, or institute various rules about not coming back late from breaks. However, the fact is that what really motivates people is positive reinforcement. Recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement, according to People Centric Consulting Group.

For instance, a recent Gallup research study concluded that engaged employees take fewer than three sick days each year, on average, while disengaged ones take more than six sick days.

Do you have issues with school bus drivers or staff not showing up to work or calling in sick much too frequently? One transportation director I spoke with said it’s a major challenge he deals with daily.

Creating goals and action plans for employee recognition is more important than it may seem. If you are in a situation where you really need to increase attendance throughout your organization, hand out a three-part form during your Monday morning staff meeting. The written note thanks employees who have perfect attendance that week. The employee keeps one part, saves the second in their personnel file and places the third in a monthly drawing for prizes.

Ultimately, you want to recognize the commendable actions, behaviors, approaches, and accomplishments that you want to foster and reinforce in your organization. Establish employee recognition opportunities that emphasize and reinforce these sought-after qualities and behaviors.

Employee recognition is a communication tool—and a satisfying type of pattern—that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for your organization.

A Workplace Deal Breakers study identified factors that lead to employees quitting their jobs. Lack of recognition was one of those key findings.

Without being recognized, and without the positive feelings that come from that recognition, employees will eventually walk right out the door. Why not take the initiative to recognize others you work with, by sending them nice emails, notes and cards?

Reward positive behavior and the loyalty of your team members. Know that these are key factors for your overall success.

Editor’s Note: Reprinted from the August issue of School Transportation News, Publisher’s Corner.