It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Cry if I Want To

October 20, 2015
| ByMadison

It’s your birthday, and you’ve just received the mandatory office birthday card. Everyone in your team (or whoever was around on that day) has signed it. Some have tried to be inventive with their good wishes; “remember last year on your birthday when we…!”, others have written the obligatory “happy birthday” often without even signing their name. This is the fourth birthday card they’ve signed this month.

This situation is sadly a common occurrence in many workplaces. A blanket approach to recognizing employee birthdays is one of the many vague and impersonal recognition programs in place in organizations today.

Why does the personal touch matter?

Whether it’s recognizing employees for being born on a particular day, or for delivering a great piece of work; when recognition is personal, it tells the employee that you value them and their contribution. Recognition doesn't have to be extravagant, but it does need to mean something to the receiver if it is to have an impact.

Recognition needs to be timely and specific

Recognition is even more valuable if it is tailored to a specific action or event. When recognition is action-specific, people understand why they are being rewarded and can work to repeat the specific behavior. Tailored recognition reinforces specific ways of working:

"Don’t just give someone a reward for being “employee of the month.” Give them an award for delivering outstanding customer service when a particular problem occurred. This creates a culture of “doing the right thing." Josh Bersin.

Things to remember when recognizing employees

1. Get creative! – There are so many ways to recognize and reward employees, and with the added support of a recognition platform you can come up many more, each one tailored to the individual and the event.

2. Know what your employees like – Be honest; how well do you know your employees? Any gift or feedback is most appreciated when it’s something the receiver desires. If you don’t know your people, how can you know how to reward them? Remember that everyone is different and is motivated and engaged by different things. What works for one person might not work for another. Spend time understanding your employees and they will reward you in kind.

3. Ask people how they like to be recognized – As we said above, we can never know everything about everyone, so there’s also no harm in asking people whether they prefer to be recognized privately or publicly, and what form they’d like that recognition to take. When people get rewarded in the way that most appeals to them, they are much more likely to repeat their behavior.

4. Variety is the spice of life! - Selecting a wide variety of catalog options for your recognition platform gives you the opportunity to appeal to the different needs of employees. Variety also allows you to make frequent changes to your recognition offerings to prevent them from becoming stale and overused.

Final thoughts

If employees begin to feel their efforts go unrecognized, or recognition becomes a tick-box exercise, their efforts back to you and the organization will too. By using a blanket approach to recognition, you can never truly connect with your teams. Get creative, listen to your people and give feedback when it’s due. Your employees will love you for trying, and they will repay you in kind!

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