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Effective Employee Recognition Strategies for Essential Workers

Posted by 99 MGMT on


This year, our country has been facing some of the most challenging months in recent history. When stay-at-home orders took effect, many individuals found themselves in a work-from-home situation, many found themselves without a job, and millions of Americans found themselves classified as “essential workers”.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, essential workers are “those who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations.”

This clearly encompasses many people, working in many different positions - including healthcare. And since we already know that physician burnout is a serious concern, it’s no surprise that essential workers are also feeling the stress of working through a pandemic.

Studies have shown that employee appreciation and recognition can have substantial effects on productivity, communication, and retention, so especially in a time of uncertainty in public health, showing your employees that you value them will be beneficial on many levels.

This is why employee recognition is more important now than ever. Here’s our tips on some effective ways to show employee recognition to essential workers.

Prioritize Safety

First and foremost, the best way to show appreciation to your employees is to make sure that your work environment is as safe as possible.

When you take actionable steps to show employees and customers alike that public health and safety is a primary concern for your business, you are setting a precedent of consideration, thus showing your employees that you value them.

Ask Employees What They Need

Sometimes when trying to think of how to show your employees the appreciation they deserve, you may struggle with figuring out what the best answer is. 

While it can definitely be easier to hop on a bulk trinket-type website and order enough stress balls to give one to every worker, consider instead, asking your employees what kind of recognition they might like to receive.

Doing this is a two-fold win, because you’re showing your team that you value their input, as well as opening yourself up to suggestions you may not have thought of because of your position.

Now obviously, there will always be someone who cracks a joke and says “A million dollars?” but, more often, you might be surprised by how much employees will value your willingness to listen.

Single People Out

When someone is told to single another person out, the initial reaction can be a reluctance to isolate or draw attention to an individual, as that is a situation many people are familiar with being uncomfortable with.

However, in a piece called Leading with Gratitude, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton shared the following statistic:

"67% of managers are thinking they are above average in offering praise and recognition to their employees, but only 23% of their workers are agreeing."

This goes to show that a vast majority of employees surveyed said that they wish their achievements were complimented or appreciated by their bosses, so sharing positive feedback is almost never a bad thing!

Especially in times of crisis like right now, letting your employees know that you appreciate their hard work and sacrifice in unprecedented times can go a long way.

The 3 B’s

When recognizing employees for good work and appreciating the sacrifice of essential workers, it is important to always follow these three guidelines for the best overall experience:

Be Specific

Don’t be wishy-washy with compliments. If you’re going to take the time to point out that someone is doing a good job, you should provide specific feedback, that way they know what to keep doing!

Be Timely

Show your appreciation when it happens! As soon as you know that one of your employees has done something worth recognizing, you should do so.

Waiting too long to share that feedback can create anxiety that causes workers to feel underappreciated for their efforts and sacrifices.

Be Genuine

There’s no value in giving praise that you don’t mean - it’s as simple as that. Just be sure to always give meaningful compliments when it is warranted, so as to not devalue compliments as a whole.

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