Your receptionist/customer service rep has successfully handled eight difficult client calls this week. Your junior insurance producer just closed a big enough deal to meet his guarantee for the first time. Your senior producer finally got a thumbs-up from a prospect she's been chasing for a long time. How did you recognize each of them?
Does employee recognition even matter?
First, let's get a clearer definition as to what employee appreciation is.
Employee appreciation: acknowledgment of a person's or team's efforts going beyond the call of duty in the course of their jobs, with results that uphold the company's values and goals. The recognition can be formal or informal, but it is expressed in a timely manner - as soon as possible.
No doubt your team won't jump ship next week just because you didn't recognize them - but over time, the lack of appreciation will erode your relationship. Gallup Polls state, "The number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don't feel appreciated."
Note these statistics as well:
- Companies with strategic recognition programs report at least a 71 percent engagement level among workers, versus companies without them (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)
- Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20 percent (Gallup)
- Disengaged workers cost our economy more than $300 billion every year (Gallup)
- Employees not adequately recognized at work are three times more likely to leave in the following year (Gallup)
Need more convincing? Take a look at the following facts and figures as to how recognition - or the lack thereof - affects every part of your business.
Increased productivity and performance
- Highly engaged employees are 38 percent more likely to have above-average productivity. (Workplace Survey - Gensler)
- Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202 percent. (Dale Carnegie)
- 60 percent of "best in class" organizations report employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance. (Gallup)
Improved work culture
- Companies with strong engagement efforts report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. (Workplace Survey - Gensler)
- 70 percent of North American workers hold timely recognition to be "effective" or "very effective" (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)
- Of the companies spending one percent or more of payroll on recognition, 85 percent see a positive impact on engagement (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)
- Companies who implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9 percent lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Gallup)
- Companies scoring in the top 20 percent for building appreciation-rich cultures have a 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than every other enterprise (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012)
- 41 percent of customers are loyal because of good employee attitudes (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)
- A five percent increase in customer retention generates a 25 - 85 percent increase in profitability (Harvard Business Review)
Convinced? Now let's review some top practices for launching and maintaining your employee appreciation program.
Best practices for employee recognition at your insurance agency
- Decide what you want to recognize and encourage, such as living your company values, saving the company money, creating a new innovation, hitting goals, referring new business or new employees. Then continually be on the lookout for these achievements.
- Make your appreciation SPECIFIC (so that everyone knows exactly what it is you're recognizing), MEANINGFUL (since everyone's not motivated by the same things, let the employee choose their reward from several options) and TIMELY (as soon as possible after they meet the goal, do the action, etc.; don't wait a month before recognizing, because it will have lost its value by then).
- Don't make it a set-in stone policy, such as "employee of the month," because that can be too vague and too much time can go by before the person is recognized. Instead, make it random: an immediate reaction to an action or behavior you see and want to reward.
- Include peer-to-peer recognition. Colleagues are in the trenches with each other, and they're better able to pinpoint a team member's contribution.
- You don't always have to give money. Sometimes employees just want a handwritten note and direct praise in front of others for a job well done.
- Consider the "trophy value." Every time the employee uses, sees or interacts with the reward item, he or she associates it with the company and the positive behavior that earned the reward. The reward helps employees recognize that their employer truly values employees and acknowledges positive work habits.
- Keep it going. Build rhythm around communicating the top employees recognized and those who are recognizing others most often. Recognize those who have provided value in your insurance team meetings.
- Celebrate the team occasionally. Bring in breakfast or lunch for everyone, as a way of saying thanks to all. According to Gallup, 67 percent of full-time employees with access to free food at work are "extremely happy" or "very happy" in their job.