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Recognition first. Reward later. That’s the winning formula for employee engagement.

Even moreso, empower your employees to recognize one another.

In our blog post a few weeks back we included rewards and recognition as one great way to prevent silos from forming. Well, it turns out that it’s also a top way to keep your employees from leaving the company.

New Data Shows Recognition on Top

McKinsey has come out with a new survey showing that the most important factor for an employee wanting to stay in their job is that they feel “Valued by the Organization.” This beats out the second-place factor: “Valued by My Manager.” And in third place is “A Sense of Belonging.”

These three areas of concern are quite similar and show that what matters most to employees across the board is being part of something bigger where their contribution is clear.

Meanwhile, the study shows that employers have it all wrong, thinking the top three reasons their employees are thinking of leaving are that they want a better job, want better pay, or have poor health.

There is a huge disconnect here! Employees want recognition and employers think they want cash!

Remote Work Itself Isn’t the Issue

Although remote work has empowered the “Great Resignation” where up to forty percent of employees are considering leaving their current job, the “Ability to Work Remotely” and “Ability to Work Autonomously” are at the bottom of the pile at number 18 and 19 out of 20.

The fact is that organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than those that don’t. And given that the overall cost of replacing an employee is between one and two years of salary, that amounts to a savings of a full third of your organization’s payroll! Wouldn’t it be worth putting something solid in place?

You can still recognize your employees in a hybrid workplace. In fact, in many ways, it’s easier.

Here are three ways to give public recognition and three ways to give more private recognition.


Write a LinkedIn recommendation

These days, a manager giving her employee a recommendation on LinkedIn is a better form of recognition than two years of Employee of the Month plaques. Everyone in their network will see this compliment forever. Even better, ask the whole team to write a recommendation for that employee. Or even better, reward a group by asking them all to recommend one another.

Sing their praises to the hills

Well, there’s that Employee of the Month thing, of course. There are also many other ways to make sure a person who has done a great job gets credit for it. Recognize the week’s stars in an all-hands meeting. Or do it asynchronously as the welcome page in your hybrid work management platform. Send a mail, text message or Whats App honoring the top performers.

Reward the team in their name

You know that old military punishment where when one person misbehaves, everyone has to do pushups? It’s very effective, because there’s no better way to stop a bad egg than with the force of numbers. In similar fashion, recognize employee X’s triumph by buying the whole team lunch. Host a thirty-minute hybrid “cocktail party” in her honor. Give gift cards to everyone, not just the employee you value – but on her behalf. You will create an incredible sense of goodwill and positive energy by rewarding the whole team to recognize one person’s success.


Tell them you appreciate them

There are many ways to do this. Get a little creative to show them they matter. Write a thank you note by hand, even if you have to take a picture of it to deliver it. Make a card on Canva – it only takes a few minutes using a template. Give them a call and just say how great a job they are doing. Don’t hold back. Rather overdo your recognition than underdo it!

Buy them their favorite coffee

Someone’s manager serving them coffee must be one of the most amazing forms of recognition possible. Especially when it’s a special spiced latte or some other favored treat. Don’t let remote work stop you – that what Door Dash and Uber Eats are for. Starbucks delivers in many locations.

Treat their family to something nice

Maybe the only thing more surprising and delightful for an employee than having their manager serve them coffee is having their manager do something great for their family without them even knowing about it. Of course, you want to make sure it’s not anything offensive or that feels intrusive. But what will make the star of your team happier to stick around than having a happy spouse and children who feel the boss cares and recognizes their hero?

One way to ensure you make it easy to recognize your employees – and for them to recognize one another – is by using our AT THE EDGE Engagement Solution for Hybrid Work. There are surely other ways to do it too. Although we, of course, love ours, because it is so easy and it works. Want to know more? Book a call with us!

Michael Lee, SVP of Strategy, Innovation Minds