Praise and Recognition: Easy, Inexpensive, Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

Traditional employee reviews fill an important function. But, particularly with a temporary or evolving workforce, regularly recognizing and motivating good work can be essential ― and sometimes, it can be pretty simple.

At AvantaStaff, we’ve seen that taking 10 seconds to point out someone’s effort or accomplishment can have a huge ripple effect. And in a year that’s tested all of us, the positive energy this can generate has never been more important, for the employee and for you, too.

A Gallup study found that employers are missing out on this “low cost, high impact” way to connect with and motivate employees: “Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company.”

Building a Strong Team

For new employees, especially a temp employee who experiences being “new” on the job site more frequently, positive feedback can help ease anxiety and make them feel invested, productive and part of the team. We’ve found that temporary and temp-to-perm staff benefit tremendously from a little extra effort to help them feel a like successful contributor to the bigger picture ― and the data backs it up.

Gallup found that recognition has a powerful impact on teams that translates to individual employee satisfaction. In their study, 74% of employees who reported that their team received praise also strongly agreed that they had “the feeling that what [they are] doing at work is valuable and useful.” And that impact correlates with higher-quality output: The research found, of workers on teams that were praised, a full two-thirds strongly agreed that “quality is always a top priority.”

That’s a pretty sound return on investment.

From AdvantaStaff Managers: Eight Lessons Learned

At AdvantaStaff, we’ve been reflecting on small but significant ways to recognize employees. Here are some strategies our managers have found effective that you might tailor to your organization’s practices:

  1. Be genuine, specific and timely.

We try to call out good behavior wherever we see it. For example: “Thanks for putting in the effort to wear full PPE, Will. You’re a good role model.” “I notice you’re here early every day, Jaime. I appreciate your punctuality.” “Ava, your manager mentioned you had some great ideas about our process. Good work.”

  1. Put it in writing.

Our employees have responded to the extra effort of a manager adding a note of praise to the employee’s file, a social media post giving props, or even a simple post-it note saying, “Thanks for the extra effort.”

  1. Solicit input.

We know that managers and supervisors are our most important resource when it comes to identifying and acknowledging stand-out on staff. Recently, we asked supervisors to regularly thank new employees for pitching in and note those who have gone above and beyond.

  1. Make it public.

Meetings and informal gatherings, even the breakroom, have presented great opportunities to congratulate an employee or team on a job well done.

  1. Recognize teams, too.

Building strong teams means calling out the accomplishments of employees working together to reach a goal. If we see one employee helping another with tasks, directions, or any challenge big or small, we try to let them know you appreciate the team spirit.

  1. Reward good safety practices, attendance and punctuality.

Yes, these are basic expectations when it comes to employee behavior, but we’ve learned that we see these behaviors much more consistently when we recognize and reward good habits.

  1. Add incentives.

In pre-COVID days, AdvantaStaff managers might buy teams pizza or lunch or even bring in an ice cream truck. We’ve had to pivot over the past year, and we’ve seen managers get creative by offering safe but much-appreciated rewards like an employee-of-the-month gift card, paid time off or a restaurant gift certificate.

  1. Make time for praise.

When we’re pressed for time, it’s easy to focus on constructive feedback and forget about offering thanks and recognition. But positive reinforcement is critical for helping employees feel valued, invested in their work and supportive of their colleagues. We’re putting “praise” on our calendar to-do lists to make it a regular habit.

Have you found an effective way to offer accolades and create a positive buzz in the workplace? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.