Make workers feel wanted — and raise employee retention rates

If your company doesn’t have an employee recognition program in place — and you want to hold on to valued workers — you may want to consider implementing one.

In a previous post, we discussed how financially devastating a bad hire can be to a company, potentially costing as much as 150 percent of the employee’s first year of compensation.

The cost of losing a high-performer that the company had invested in, including the expense involved with then having to find and cultivate a new employee, can be just as significant.

It’s not hugely surprising that HR professionals said in a recent Human Resource Executive survey that developing leaders, ensuring employees remain engaged and retaining key talent were the three biggest challenges facing their organization.

As the economy continues to improve and job openings follow suit, creating an employee value proposition that adequately supports employee retention will likely be an ongoing challenge for many organizations.

Employee recognition programs can be a huge help.

The Recognition Program Pay-off

Studies have shown recognition programs, when executed well, can provide tangible benefits. Sixty-three percent of companies that measured employee recognition program ROI saw productivity increase, according to Society of Human Resource Management research.

Fifty-eight percent of companies that measured employee recognition program ROI saw a higher profit margin return.

On average, organizations are allotting 2 percent of their payroll budget to fund employee recognition programs, according to nonprofit human resources association WorldatWork.

If your budget is too tight to incorporate that kind of expenditure — but you’re concerned disengaged workers could potentially lead to an employee retention issue — don’t panic. You don’t need to spend a lot to make employees feel appreciated. A little recognition can go a long way toward keeping employees on board.

Consider the following low-cost employee recognition program ideas:

1) Broadcast your employees’ achievements3-14-16_blog.jpg

Public acknowledgment, ranging from posting praise on a company bulletin board to providing an employee-of-the-month parking space, is a completely free and often effective way of thanking employees, according to Inc.

2) Say thank you in person

Recognition Professionals International recommends having a leadership member take employees out to lunch to get input on how they think the company could improve — or to just get to know the employee on a more personal level.

3) Make an impromptu award

In the past decade, certificates and plaques — which can be a low- to no-cost option — have been the most popular type of employee recognition award, according to the nonprofit human resources association WorldatWork. Nearly half of companies (47 percent) handed out company logo merchandise, a fairly inexpensive item.

4) Ask for input

Fast Company suggests dedicating several days each year to innovation, encouraging valued employees to weigh in on ways to change their workspace — and submit ideas about how your organization can increase its employee value proposition.

5) Encourage education

Paying for employees to take classes and seminars that will prep them for different roles in your organization can let specific employees know they’re appreciated, according to Monster.

6) Work with local businesses

If you can’t afford to purchase gift certificates for each reward recipient, consider implementing a program that will provide valuable discounts, such as the one aerospace engineering firm Finmeccanica UK offers — which, according to The Guardian, offers employee price breaks at area supermarkets and spa, golf and other activities.12-22-15_2_blog_skinny.jpg

7) Fund philanthropy

As part of your employee recognition program, your organization could, as Canadian Business suggests, start matching employees’ donations up to a certain amount.

8) Make it Personal

A handwritten note from someone in a leadership position can be a strong statement some employees may hold on to for years, according to Inc.

9) Recognize employees’ efforts outside of the workplace

Involving workers’ families in various ways — such as inviting them to an office open house to show them what an employee does or adding them to office social outing guest lists — can help strengthen employee relationships, according to legal, financial and regulatory information provider Mondaq.

10) Reward the entire team

7-21-2016_acp.pngPayScale suggests adding a new office amenity as a thank-you for an employee’s hard work, such as a deluxe coffee machine — which offers the employee recognition and provides your staff with a new item they can all enjoy.

Adding an employee recognition program (or enhancing a current one that may be somewhat out of date) can help you greatly improve employee satisfaction and retention levels.

If you’re not sure what program perks or other amenities would best resonate with your staff, conduct a company-wide survey to find out.

For tips on confidentially assessing your employees’ current state of mind — and employee value proposition wish list — check out our “Creating the Most Effective Employee Value Proposition” post on crafting an effective staff survey.