Employee Recognition

Does your workplace recognize the service of its employees? I am fortunate to work in an organization that does so, and it strikes me as a topic of conversation that is timely, as many people have started to feel employers are less caring about their employees and more focused solely on production.
So yesterday afternoon, 26 members of the organization who work in the Social Services Department (we are employed by a Municipality that also includes staff in Policing, Roads, Child Care, Housing, etc.) were recognized for their years of service to date. A fairly small event, it included a table of fruits, vegetables, desserts and beverages, seating for 50, and a few balloons as decorations. Organizers had taken the time to set up the room with a podium from which the Director addressed those assembled, and there was a gift for each recipient.
At this year’s event, each honouree had been asked to write ahead of time, what motivates them personally. To their collective surprise, each person had their source of motivation read aloud just prior to being formally recognized for all to hear. It was a nice touch, and such a wonderful thing to hear for the rest of us there.
So what was I doing there? Certainly not getting anything beyond a few nibbles at the buffet table! I had asked for permission to attend just to offer support to my colleagues with whom I work. My office mate was having his 5 years acknowledged, and two of the Clerks I work with their respective 15 year plateaus recognized. The whole event lasted about an hour, and with the networking that went on before and after, it extended out to 2 hours.
So is that 2 hours a waste of time and expense for an organization, or is that time valued by an organization as a gesture that promotes networking, recognition of longevity and talent? I can tell you that those assembled all appreciated the kindness of the organization for making it possible in the first place. And in our case, bringing together employees from 5 physical locations affords us the chance to greet, network, and nurture relationships so important when serving common clients.
Now when we see a name pop up in an email, or read that name in a newsletter, there’s a greater chance that we recall the face, know the person, and will respond differently because we know the person. Being in a, ‘people business’, we value each other, and know the importance of continually taking care of each other emotionally, so that we can continue to provide service excellence. You can add up the cost for an event like this and it will show up on a budget line, but you will find it impossible to measure in a budget the impact of the goodwill that money produces, and that leads to better performance, which is the bottom line.
Some organizations have dispensed with employee recognition for budget purposes. Others choose to recognize their employees but far removed from public scrutiny so they don’t appear to be using funds inappropriately. And to be fair, when the public does hear about some extravagance, we all have reason to cry out at the apparent waste and misuse of funds.
However, I believe there can and must be some mechanism in place for an organization to formally thank and acknowledge its employees. When done so, we all benefit by knowing we are valued, appreciated and it encourages us as co-workers to pause for a moment and congratulate our peers. So we feel good about ourselves and pat each other on the back, shake some hands, take a few photos, and share in some food and drink. Today is another day, and we the staff will return to our various work locations and get back to the work we do with greater enthusiasm and appreciation.
What if anything does your organization do to similarly recognize employees where you work for their years of service? If this process isn’t occurring, perhaps it might be something to examine. It need not be an expensive event, nor require every employee in the organization to be present at the same time, thereby allowing the business of the organization to continue uninterrupted. No matter the size, there is merit in this.
In the private sector, especially in organizations that generate vast profit margins, I imagine that the practice of bonuses and rewards is an ongoing practice used to generate envy and heighten desire in others to similarly excel. If it works in those sectors that’s great, and I don’t begrudge them how they do their business. (What is a bonus anyhow? Never had one myself!).
Even in a micro-enterprise of less than 5 employees, thanking employees for their time, service excellence and commitment should be encouraged. For not only does it recognize current employees, but it can be part of a larger culture that attracts other professionals, knowing that they will be valued and treasured.
People after all, are the single biggest investment a company can make. When you’ve got the right ones, recognizing their contributions is but one way to keep them happy. They’ll say good things about your company, work with enthusiasm and take pride in what they do, which benefits everyone.


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