5 lessons about employee recognition for finance leaders

5 lessons about employee recognition for finance leaders

When was the last time you reminded your employees about how vital they are to the success of the company and how much their contributions are valued.

If you can’t remember when, then this article is for you.

Sincere and consistent employee recognition is important because it leads to higher morale, improved employee retention, and a more engaged workforce that produces higher-quality work. However, research by Robert Half shows that many managers need to make a greater effort to ensure their accounting and finance staff are, in fact, feeling happy while on the job. 53% of works between the ages of 18 and 34 say they receive constructive feedback often; only 42 per cent of those aged 35-54 agree.

The five simple (but essential) employee recognition strategies outlined below can help your team members feel happier at work and more confident that their work is truly appreciated:

1. Look back … and then pay it forward

Over the years that you spent working up to your current leadership position, you reported to any number of managers. Chances are you remember one or two of them specifically because their staff management tactics told you without any doubt they were grateful for you and your work.

Maybe those managers spent an extra few minutes talking with you every week, or always took time to listen to your concerns? Perhaps they always made the point to thank you in person rather than by email? Maybe they threw you a party when you got engaged or celebrated a milestone birthday?

Whatever it was, you remember them for it. Think about the things that your favourite managers from the past did to recognise you and make you feel great. Then, start (or continue) doing those same things for your employees.

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2. Think inside - and outside - the wallet

Confirm that you’re providing appropriate compensation to your employees. A common reason good employees quit their jobs? Inadequate salary and benefits.

In addition to attractive starting compensation, annual and spot bonuses can be powerful motivators. However, don’t assume that offering more compensation is the best or only form of employee recognition, though. Cash bonuses and gifts tend to motivate employees only for a short time.

Consider balancing monetary rewards with other perks and benefits such as offering flexible work schedules. In Robert Half’s The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees report, those in the finance sector ranked near the bottom for work-life balance – so this would be a great place for finance leaders to start.

3. Broadcast your appreciation

What’s even better than letting employees know you appreciate their work? Telling the whole office.

The positive effects of employee recognition multiply exponentially when you praise individuals publicly. Consider sending staff-wide congratulatory emails, mentioning top performers in the company newsletter and holding meetings where you tell employees, one by one, exactly what they’re doing well and how their efforts make a positive impact.

According to Dr Christine Carter, a sociologist at the University of California Berkeley, going as far as being really specific about the achievements of your employees will make them feel seen and recognised.

4. Put pen to paper

Why not write thank-you notes to employees? This personalised approach offers an effective way to express gratitude, especially if you write notes by hand and tailor your messages to each employee’s achievements and efforts.

The employees who get these notes are more likely to remember you for years to come as a thoughtful boss who sincerely valued the contributions of your team members.

5. Have fun with employee recognition

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be a chore. Think about throwing a party for your employees. Take them out of the office just for the fun of it, or create a game where everyone gets a nod for their unique contributions to the team. You can even ask all your staff members to take part in acknowledging and commending their colleagues’ efforts. As you get more creative with these ideas, and do them regularly, you will help to foster a workplace culture that puts both employee recognition and happiness at work front and centre.

Nic Marks of Happiness Works says it’s important for leaders to remind themselves regularly of the pivotal role they play in how their employees feel. “If your manager says one bad thing to you, it can really dampen your motivation for days, even weeks,” he says. “Similarly, when a manager says something great to you it can expand your positive feelings and make you feel good about yourself for quite a while.”

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