A talented team is arguably one of the most valuable assets of any company. For startups and smaller enterprises, this statement usually rings even truer.
But it takes plenty of time and effort to recruit the right people. And, once on the team, making sure that your talent sticks around is an even bigger challenge. While some degree of staff turnover is natural, it takes time and energy for new hires to learn the specific ropes of your company, build relationships with colleagues and begin delivering results. If these new hires leave, it not only puts unnecessary strain on your operations but could also point to a larger issue.
Retention initiatives often look at how competitive compensation rates are, or whether work-life balance at the company could be improved. Employee recognition is often left out of the conversation but it is something that has a significant impact on any retention strategy. That’s because 36% of employees cite a lack of workplace recognition as the main reason for quitting, with 60% being more motivated by recognition than money.
And it’s not just retention rates that are at risk, but the performance of those employees who stick around. Research shows that employees on the receiving end of fair and consistent recognition from their leaders generated twice as many ideas per month as those who don’t receive the same close attention.
In a tight labor market, every founder can benefit from taking a look at how the individual achievements of each team member are currently being celebrated and being honest about where there may be room for improvement. Here are four ways that founders can strategically improve employee recognition to better retain their best performers and boost motivation across their companies.
Share your network with star performers
Founders and senior executives are often overwhelmed by requests to act as speakers or mentors at industry events. At times, it may be appropriate to consider sending a rising star from the company in your place. This not only helps to increase company representation at such events but also offers a highly valuable way to recognize your top performers.
For employees at an earlier stage in their career, getting named as a board advisor or mentor is an accolade that adds prestige to the individual’s résumé while also validating the presence of the company.
It’s important to communicate exactly why a certain employee has been chosen to represent the company.
For example, the former co-CEO of Salesforce, Bret Taylor, was also chairman of the board of Twitter in addition to his role at Salesforce, which helped draw attention back to Salesforce.
Equally, speaker roles at industry events are highly valuable opportunities for aspiring leaders, helping them to fast-track their visibility among peers and forge valuable connections on behalf of themselves and the company. Rather than hoarding such opportunities, leaders who choose to share the benefits of their established networks with star employees for the greater good are set to win in the long run.
Here it’s important to communicate exactly why a certain employee has been chosen to represent the company for such opportunities. In this way, other team members will know that it’s in relation to a specific achievement rather than a case of favoritism and gives others something to aspire to in the future.
Don’t limit recognition to internal comms only
Many managers just aren’t good communicators and are often what could be called “emotionally stingy.” Although employees report a general lack of recognition, it usually does happen in some form. However, in my experience, smaller wins and general team achievements are limited to a shoutout during company meetings or buried within performance reviews.