Living Meaningful Recognition

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According to Gallup, one of the most frequently asked questions from managers is, “How much recognition does an employee need?” Gallup’s research and best practice has found that a staff member should be individually recognized at least once every seven days for doing a good job. In fact, one can never give too much recognition if it is honest and genuine. Recognition and praise, in any form, helps staff feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in their work and contribution to the greater good of an organization. From the worldwide Gallup 12 survey results, the statement of “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work” consistently rates lowest from employees surveyed. Another powerful Gallup statistic is that staff who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to leave the organization within the next year.

While this may be a finding that is consistent across various industries, countries, and teams, we in Student Affairs can continue to enhance the workplace culture around recognition. While receiving perks such as monetary bonuses, free childcare, or all you can eat gourmet meals would help in appreciating people for their efforts, it is important to keep in mind that we each have the opportunity to provide kudos for our staff and colleagues through our daily interactions. We asked the GO BIG Staff Initiative team to tell us what type of recognition they appreciate receiving, along with tips on how we can improve recognizing one another. Here is some of the collective wisdom they shared:

  • Find out what is meaningful for each staff member. Recognition and praise is an individual preference. Out of the 18 GO BIG team members that responded, each person had a different perspective on how they would want to be recognized, what feels authentic, and what motivates them to continue to do great work. While one person may love receiving a public kudos at a staff meeting, another individual may prefer a private, handwritten thank you note.
  • Provide a specific, genuine thank you versus a generic “good job.” An example of this is helping to connect their work on a specific project to the greater mission and purpose of Student Affairs.
  • Celebrate any milestone, big or small. Each task and multiple steps within a process has value. Let’s recognize the journey along the way, in addition to the finish line at the end.
  • Take note of the “little” moments. Notice the tasks that may easily go unnoticed (staying late in the office, setting up a room before a meeting, ordering supplies, etc.) Often times such tasks take much longer than perceived and require detailed work; thus, these moments are not so little!
  • Explain how their work has impacted YOU positively. 
  • Give credit where it’s due. Share how each individual has contributed to the overall success of the team.
  • A passing kudos in the hallway can count just as much as a large recognition party.
  • Stretch yourself to recognize someone outside of you inner circle. Peer to peer recognition can be just as powerful as manager to employee.

Here are 3 things that you can do TODAY to practice meaningful recognition in the workplace:

  1. Nominate an awesome colleague for a Spotlight Award! Contact Annalyn Cruz in Learning & Development if you want a consultation on how to recognize your staff in meaningful ways.
  2. Set aside 30 minutes weekly on your bCal to write thank you emails or handwritten notes to your staff members or colleagues across Student Affairs.
  3. Read this quick article entitled “5 Ways to Reward Great Employees Besides Money.” Commit to trying at least 1 of the behaviors listed in the article.

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