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How (and Why) to Better Recognize Your Employees

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    Ernie Els of South Africa holds the Claret Jug trophy after winning the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes golf club, Lytham St Annes, England Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

    Even though we all now share oxygen with people who think they should be given medals just for showing up we could all use a little attaboy or attagirl from time to time. The good news is that, according to a semi-annual study carried out by Globoforce, which is not a James Bond villain corporation, 55 percent of respondents said they'd leave their jobs for a place that "clearly recognized… their efforts," 51 percent of employees said they'd been recognized in the last three months (up from 44 percent in fall 2011) and that 81 percent of employees said recognition makes the more satisfied in their work (up from 73 percent in fall 2011).

    No matter how you slice it, maybe it's time to recognize the hard work your troops do.

    Okay, sure. But how? There are all sorts of ways, and what might work to motivate one employee might not work for another one. It might not even work for anyone else in the company. So, this might be time to start a fun to-do list and think of ways to give props where props are due.

    Joshua Gross, the human resources manager for Los Angeles company Coalition Technologies says his company pays for all his employees to go out for lunch together every Friday. That might not be feasible at your office, but, hey, it's an idea.

    Mari Escamilla of Media Contact, says that one of the companies she represents, Listen Up Español, gives "the top salespeople… a chance at winning a car." The company gives away a car, apparently, every two months. That's a lot of cars.

    Company cruises, gift certificates, open meetings with senior leadership, spontaneous snacks, offering cash rewards for every time a customer compliments an employee, "hall passes" to leave after lunch, a portrait of the employee after they've worked there for 20 years and taco breakfasts are just a handful of the employee recognition initiatives I heard about from a wide variety of companies nationwide.

    So that should give you a couple things to think about and hopefully not just outright steal.

    Another aspect of this, as Detavio Samuels, the EVP/director of client services for GlobalHue, points out, is how to implement whatever perks you're thinking of hatching. Samuels recommends that whatever you plan on doing, just get started with it: "No matter how stupid you think it is… you're not even the game if you are doing nothing."

    Once you've started, Samuels recommends assuring your recognition program(s) are aligned with your company goals because "the best reward programs will be mutually beneficial for both company and employees." Finally, once your programs have been activated, let people know about them and encourage your workers to get in on the action as well. As Samuels says, "The people in the trenches must be taught and empowered to recognize each other for their great work -- after all, they are the closest people to each other's work anyway."

    So, there you have it. Get cracking on figuring out how you can make your most valuable players feel like valued players! 

    David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.