As leaders, our tendency is to think about, and apply, recognition as discrete actions, recognizing employees for something specific they do. However, recognition should be a journey, not a sprint, where it is built into all stages of the employee life cycle.

When considering the six stages in the cycle, from attracting candidates to performing exit interviews, we can identify any number of ways to demonstrate recognition.

Stage 1: Attraction

Although we may not be recognizing specific employees during this stage, there is ample opportunity to recognize your team and your organization. This is the stage where you promote your brand, what has made you successful, the positive aspects of working in your organization.

Stage 2: Recruitment

Give your employees opportunities to participate in recruiting other members of their team. Whether recruiting internal or external candidates, involving current team members in the recruitment and selection process says you value their contribution. These employees will then do all they can to ensure the new team members are successful.

Stage 3: Onboarding

Like Stage 2, involving current team members in the onboarding process demonstrates recognition of their value. It provides them with opportunities to share their knowledge and experience with the new recruits. We all want to be recognized for what we bring to the team, what we have worked hard to achieve, and this allows us to do that. Be sure you provide regular, positive feedback to them while they participate in this process, encouragement is recognition.

Stage 4: Learning and Development

Investing in your employees’ professional development provides them with a career path. Investment means recognition. Continuing to provide them with learning and development opportunities means they are recognized for their professional growth and are seen as valued members of the organization.

Stage 5: Retention

“Research has shown that employees who are appreciated are more loyal to their employers. One study by Aon Hewitt found that turnover was reduced by 31% at companies with a strong culture of employee appreciation compared to businesses with weaker recognition programs.”

Be aware of individual preferences when it comes to recognition. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ action. Ask employees what they value and, if possible, use their input to guide your recognition activities.

Stage 6: Exiting

For most employees, there comes a point when their employment will end. Make sure you treat this stage with as much importance as the other five stages. When a team member leaves, it affects the entire team.

Lesley Calvin, one of MCE’s expert facilitators, provided our team (during a recent team retreat) with a great tool to recognize one other. It involved anonymously sharing how we felt about one another, knowing some of us would soon exit from the team. Imagine how wonderful this feels, as you exit the organization, to have other team members share positive thoughts, feelings, and experiences about you. Now that is the power of recognition.

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