Could your business decrease turnover, increase productivity, and improve its culture by providing employees with a platform for showing appreciation for each other? That’s the argument made in a new book, The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work.
Its authors, executives at an employee recognition firm, may be biased, but they make a strong case for how gratitude and recognition are good for business.
Eric Mosley, CEO, and Derek Irvine, vice president, of Globoforce reject the notion that employee recognition must come from the top and be linked to cash rewards. They say that workplaces that enable “strategic social recognition practices” can increase employee engagement and improve the bottom-line.
They back up their point with data, citing findings such as one that says every 15 percent improvement in employee engagement drives a 2 percent hike in operating margin, and another that shows every percentage point increase in employee engagement drives 0.6 percent growth in sales. Mosley and Irvine set out to demonstrate how employees who feel appreciated “not only work harder, they trust each other and their leaders more” and that “a ‘positivity dominated workplace’ creates and maintains a competitive advantage.”
What does “social recognition” look like? It can be the use of a mobile app to share company wide the news that a peer has been recognized by her manager; of crowdsourcing to engage staff in recognizing a colleague’s record years of service; of a gamification approach to awarding points for hitting milestones; or of an internal social media feed dedicated to celebrating great work.
The Power of Thanks shows how large companies including Intuit, InterContinental Hotels, JetBlue, Hershey, and Symantec have gotten better performance from employees through such programs. And it describes numerous case studies to demonstrate how a carefully planned and consistently executed “Culture of Recognition” business strategy inspires not just engagement and loyalty, but also stronger, more unified teams and departments; a creative, innovative culture; increased profitability, and improved organizational health.
But small employers can benefit too. The authors suggest that tactical recognition—which focuses on the connection between a manager and an individual employee and encourages managers to catch workers “doing something good”—“often works best in a small business, which is typically driven by the personality and leadership of the owner.” For instance, they write:
“Mallory’s Auto Repair, with 10 employees, is a small society in which Mallory can celebrate and recognize good work frequently. GE, with more than 300,000 employees, is a different story.”
Thanking your employees socially is smart long-term strategy, Mosley and Irvine say. In addition to the human resources benefits of such a program, the data that social recognition programs yield contribute to improved management practices. It can enable employers to improve hiring and onboarding methods, document and promote best practices, spot cultural energizers as well as quiet-but-strong employees, identify management trouble spots, and improve performance reviews.
As the authors conclude, “Something so simple and powerful might work like magic, but it’s really just common sense.”