Recognizing Your Employees: Part 1 of 3

The Importance of Recognition

"When someone comes along who genuinely thanks us, we will follow that person a very long way.” – Alan Loy McGinnis

Do you remember the first time you were recognized on the job for going above and beyond?

While doing research for this blog I took a walk back in time to consider my first experience with employee recognition. It was in the late 1980s, well before “employee engagement” was a common corporate concept, and before the advent of computers, cell phones, and the Internet. It was a very difficult time in the financial industry. Deposit campaigns featuring expensive “8% + Your Age” CD rates—remember those days?

I was new in the role of sales/training manager, having been on the job less than six months. On a Friday afternoon, my boss came into my office and placed two books on my desk: Zig Ziglar’s See You at the Top and Top Performance: How to Develop Excellence in Yourself and Others. He said, “These are for you—they are two of my favorites. It is my way of thanking you for all the work you have done on the training project. I want you to know how much I appreciate what you have accomplished and the difference it is going to make.” And on top of that, he told me to take the rest of the afternoon off and spend time with my two children. Talk about WOW! Thinking back, that was the first of several recognition experiences I had while working for him, and it has stuck with me all these years.

Why was what he did so distinctive? Because his acknowledgement was:
  • In the moment and specific . It was spontaneous and timely, and I knew exactly why I was being recognized. 
  • Heartfelt and sincere. He wasn’t just going through the motions.
  • Tied to my perception of value. My efforts were going to make a difference.

What is employee recognition? It’s the acknowledgment of an individual’s or team’s behavior, effort, and accomplishment supporting the organization’s goals and values.

Why is it so important? Because it …
  • Lets them know their work is valued and appreciated
  • Gives them a sense of ownership and belonging in their place of work
  • Improves morale
  • Enhances loyalty
  • Helps build a supportive work environment
  • Increases motivation
  • Increases retention

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Dr. Bob Nelson

Recognizing effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a good job of recognizing your employees, they tend to perform better and that gives you even more achievements to praise.

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