The working environment has permanently altered. A difficult labour market has provided employees with options that haven’t existed in a generation; individuals are rethinking work-life balance; and in most businesses, a hybrid-remote workplace is here to stay.

Experts have written a lot about the new world of work and the changing employee experience, but I’ve read a lot less about how recognition techniques are changing as a result.

Because I prefer to focus on the CEO’s perspective, I’d like to offer five critical tasks that every CEO should be doing to ensure that recognition programmes are aligned with values and improve the employee experience.

1. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Employees have varied preferences for how they want to be honoured, which is nothing new. In my opinion, gregarious people with large egos may need public praise, whereas introverted people prefer personal 1-on-1 contacts over high-profile recognition ceremonies.

2. Put a personal touch on it.
Few things have the same impact as a handwritten message. Yes, I recommend sending these to the employee’s house with a stamp; I write approximately 100 of them each year. It’s a terrific way to honour a noteworthy achievement (personal or professional) while also making a lasting impression. It takes a lot of discipline to do this consistently, and it’s crucial to keep it up. Employees will begin to expect you to write messages like this if they learn that you are doing so. Finally, you’ll be astonished at how many people contact you to say how much it meant to them.

3. Don’t overlook the importance of social media.
A “like” or a brief comment on social media (I limit this to LinkedIn) may make all the difference for workers. Your contribution might help them gain more exposure for their piece, and I’ve found that the fact that you saw it and took the time to remark has a major influence. However, keep in mind that not everyone uses social media, which may restrict the impact of your efforts.

4. Look for happy times (not just validation).
Recognizing someone for something that has clearly caused them joy is significantly more effective than just confirming a behaviour or seniority. The most obvious example of this is salary hikes. When an employee isn’t enjoying their profession, the recognition that comes with a promotion or a raise in compensation is just temporary. In most situations, I’ve discovered that the effect wears off in 90 days or less. When you acknowledge something an employee accomplished that provided them tremendous delight and line it with their preferences for receiving that acknowledgment, you hit the home run.

5. Keep in mind that sometimes little is more.
It’s the little things that count, especially when they come from the CEO. We may get so removed from the work that is done every day, and we frequently spend so much of our time dealing with difficulties, that I feel we lose sight of the modest victories that, when acknowledged, have a massive influence. Keep an eye out for tiny opportunities to comment on anything that has attracted your attention or to provide support. As I’ve observed, doing so can make a significant difference. Work on improving your self-awareness, and remember to take five minutes out of your day to provide real-time acknowledgement.

If you want to step up your game and be far more effective at recognising workers, you must always be on the lookout for tiny opportunities to make a big difference. It’s OK to have the people team back you up here, but taking on more direct personal responsibility would undoubtedly be noted. Your human resources department will be ecstatic as well.

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