Culture

what does the front line say? how employee recognition truly makes a difference

By don stuckey

appreciation

I know there have been ample research studies conducted and extensive data collected on the importance of employee appreciation. I get anxious to fine-tune my approach every time I dig into the numbers. But I thought it would be interesting to take a different approach in finding out what my own managers and staff thought about appreciation. I wanted to hear directly from them if appreciation was important and had made a difference to how they felt working at our hospitals.

In the past year, our organization has been on a culture shift fast-track, seeking to create a culture of recognition. But after all the strategy and planning and communicating, I truly wanted to know if being appreciated more frequently was making a difference to our employees.

To kick off my little experiment, I asked my managers what happens when they show their staff appreciation. This is what they told me:

  • “When I show appreciation to my team I hear my employees talking about it to each other, so I know it means something to them.”
  • “When I take the time to do something special to thank my employees, it stands out and they notice it.”
  • “I do it because then they know that I truly CARE.”
  •  “It lets my staff know that I care without saying “good job” all the time.”
  • “It creates a positive culture and boosts the morale of the employees.”
  • “It’s a way of reinforcing positive behavior.“
  • “It’s a tangible way to let the staff/co-workers know that I see what they do and appreciate them.”
  • “I want my employees to know that I notice and appreciate their good work. I usually tell them in person, but I take the extra time to do something else so that I convey the message that I really do appreciate it.”
  • “When I send them an electronic card, I’ve always gotten an e-mail back thanking me for thanking them.”
  • “When an employee knows their hard work, positive attitude or engagement is noticed, it not only makes them feel good about themselves, but they are also more likely to become or stay engaged.”
  • “My employees realized that although I may not always be working with them, I am staying current with their progress and am pleased with what they are doing.”
  • “My managers often tell me that their employees get really excited when they receive a card from me and share it with the rest of the department.”
  • The staff seemed proud to receive appreciation. To this day everyone still has the Above and Beyond certificate up at their workstations.”

And then I asked our staff if appreciation was important to them:

  • “It is truly a blessing to work for a company that values its employees. When my manager shows me appreciation, I know she values me.”
  • “It was nice being recognized and being able to share that recognition with my family.  My family and I picked the gift together, it was fun going through the different options and deciding as a family what to select. I think it is important to set examples for our children (even when they are young adults) and I was able to do that.”
  • “I think that being recognized let me know that while we are all so busy with day-to-day operations, my manager did feel that I did something above and beyond what was expected while I thought it was just my job and the right thing to do. It has made me really reflect on what and how I view actions of my team. I believe it will help me to better identify when my team deserves a pat on the back.”
  • “It makes me feel connected to a bigger organization.”
  • “It makes me feel special.”
  • “It makes me feel important.”

Both managers and employees agreed that appreciation is important. The last question I asked was, “Does appreciation make a difference?”

  • People who are appreciated seem more willing to do the right things. It made them aware that I noticed and took the time to express my thoughts for which they were very grateful.”
  • “I feel it helped improve my relationship with staff and co-workers.”
  • “It improves departmental and inter-departmental customer service because the next time you need them they are sincerely willing to help.”
  • “They were shocked, excited, surprised and thankful for the recognition.”
  • “I don’t know, but my employees’ performance improved in 2011.”
  • “I think increased appreciation has sparked increased communication, engagement and a desire to work as a team.”

As I expected, the research aligned with the statements of how employee recognition impacts each individual worker. Appreciation does make a difference and I’m so glad to be a part of the exciting culture change happening at Baptist Health. Have you ever surveyed your employees about their feelings toward employee recognition? How did you use the results to make changes?

To find out how each of your employees want to be recognized, print and distribute our Recognition Survey. It’ll help you make recognition meaningful and personal.

Categories: Appreciation, Culture

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By don stuckey

Guest contributor Don Stuckey is the Director of Talent Management for Baptist Health Systems, Inc., based in Birmingham, Alabama. Don works with 260 leaders throughout the system to ensure the best talent is hired, developed, and engaged to deliver a quality experience to over 35,000 inpatients and 340,000 outpatients annually. Read more of Don’s insights presented at O.C. Tanner’s 2011 Executive Recognition Summit or on his blog All About the Buzz.