Yes, thanking someone in person is the best way if that’s what makes sense. But it’s not so black and white in today’s business world.
What if your choice is thanking someone in person two weeks from now or sending a note via the intranet or emailing seconds after an employee does something great? Oh, just pick up the phone and call, you say? What if the person is simply unreachable? Is a voice mail better than an email? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I’m not alone in intensely disliking long voice mails. I feel like I have to listen just because I don’t want to miss something important, even though it’s pretty rare for people to leave big news on a voice mail.
Of course, I’m not saying that online recognition should completely replace all other forms of recognition forever. Online recognition has the best results when it’s part of a comprehensive recognition program that includes all sorts of interactions – from formal memos to live town hall meetings and informal discussions.
Here are three reasons to expand your recognition program online:
1 – If you operate on a global level, your employee relations program has to operate on that same level, and technology is a big part of that. The bottom line is that employees appreciate recognition, and when they feel appreciated, they’re more likely to leave your customers with the same feeling.
2 – Online communications are preferred by younger generations and by some older ones. I’ve been with many clients who keep checking their emails while saying something like, “I’m sorry. I have to check. I’m waiting for my boss to tell me how the launch went.” When the email comes through, they say, “Oh, she said it went great. That’s a relief. Now I can move on and focus on what I’m doing now.” Another lesson: Sometimes any communication is seen as recognition.
3 – The world operates on immediate gratification these days. Just as your customer wants whatever it is they want immediately, employees crave almost immediate gratitude for getting the job done well.
What qualifies as online recognition? Tribe works with a number of big global brands to launch micro-sites for giving global “shout-outs” up and down the ranks to sharing stories that make heroes out of employees who don’t usually win the spotlight and providing training for managers on how to make the most of online recognition.
Do you have someone who pushes back on recognition programs? We hear a lot of, “Managers just need to say thank you. We don’t need a program for that.” Actually, not all managers are created equal. Some have a natural talent for recognizing people, and some don’t. Having multiple methods for making sure someone gets the recognition they deserve is a good way to hedge your bets and make sure everyone wins.
There are tons of books on recognition, but an interesting read is The Carrot Principle about a ten-year study of 200,000 managers and employees. This research says that companies in the top quartile for employee recognition, as determined by the surveyed workers, “earned a significantly higher return on equity, return on assets, and operating margin.” (You can read all about the study in The Carrot Principle, out in 2007, a New York Times best seller. The second version came out last year.)