Companies with the most engaged employees are those that go the extra mile to build a positive culture and sense of community in the workplace. Regardless of their size or budget, they emphasize recognition and positive reinforcement as a means to achieving cultural excellence.

Focus on What’s Right

It’s easy, as a manager, to fall into a pattern of focusing on what’s wrong on any given day, and then repairing it. It’s what a manager does, right? But to truly change your culture paradigm, you need to shift management focus to finding what’s right – and then rewarding it.

  • Teach managers to proactively search for and acknowledge employees who demonstrate your company’s desired behaviors and attitude. Positive reinforcement is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improved employee satisfaction and effectiveness.
  • Catch people “doing it right.” This increases the likelihood they will repeat positive behaviors. At the same time, it nurtures their self-confidence.
  • Recognize everyday milestones as well as extraordinary achievements. Writing a thank-you note or email, or personally thanking an employee right at their workstation, takes only a few minutes and costs virtually nothing. However, it goes a long way toward showing your commitment to your people.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Research has repeatedly shown this approach builds engagement. When co-workers acknowledge one another, you’re moved beyond simply creating a work team to building a community of people who support and empower one another.

Best Practices to Emulate

It may not be feasible for your company to budget huge amounts of money on recognition, but you can assess the best practices of organizations that are winners in engagement and customer service, and adapt them accordingly.

  • Paid-paid equals win-win: One software firm offers its employees $7,500 to take a “paid-paid” vacation. They literally pay people, but they have to actually go away somewhere and can’t do any work or answer work-related messages. The company stands by the concept that employees return to work in a better state, with a fresh outlook and commitment. This also eliminates the issue of people thinking they’re the only one who can complete a specific task or solve a problem. They feel less pressure to handle everything themselves and develop a heightened sense of trust in their employer. If you can’t afford to go that big, you could tone this down to a few extra days of paid leave or a long weekend.
  • It’s all about autonomy: Southwest Airlines gives its employees elevated levels of autonomy, recognizing the basic fact they know their own jobs better than anyone else. This has included allowing employees to design their own uniforms. The company CEO recognizes employees weekly with a public “shout out” to those who have gone above and beyond at work. Not surprisingly, Southwest has become a prime example of excellent customer service, due to its team of happy, committed people.

Let StaffMasters – a leader in the Carolinas in recruitment and workforce development – help develop the targeted solution you need to enhance engagement and build your winning culture. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.


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