Thursday, December 17, 2009

Employee Engagement and Recognition: The Recipe for Retention

December 11, 2009

Call Center Cafe

It was a most unusual reception area. It was painted in bold primary colors, and had the most fascinating reading material – every inch of the walls was covered with handwritten messages from their clients – personal greetings and testimonials about their great experiences with the company.

A sign on the reception desk directed me down the hallway of this up-and-coming firm to the conference room, where I met the Director of Community Relations, who took me on a tour.

Everyone I passed said a cheery “hello!” and gave me a huge smile. In the open cubicle areas, everyone greeted me, and those who were further away jumped up and waved. In the break room, the soda machine advertised something really refreshing — the values of the organization, painted in very large letters across the front of the machine!

Everywhere I looked, I saw satisfied, motivated, happy people doing the jobs they do well. They know what is expected of them; they work in an environment that prioritizes values and productivity at the same time. And the results are evident. has become a well-known provider of internet-based recruitment strategies and resources for employees and employers.

In “First, Break All The Rules”, Gallup Poll researchers Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman write that peak performers want to know what is expected of them at work and that their work has meaning to the organization. Buckingham and Coffman found a positive correlation between employee satisfaction and business success indicators, including profits, market share, customer loyalty and even return to shareholders. expanded its product line and regional operations and continues to grow its market share year after year. There is no doubt that this is due, in part, to its teamwork and employees’ drive. Satisfied employees are driven to produce.

Employee satisfaction is a main ingredient of employee engagement. Satisfaction catapults when employees are recognized for their contributions. Organizations need to ensure the right recognition for the right people. In short, recognition has to be personally meaningful to the employee.

A colleague of mine received a gift basket from her boss as a thank-you. It was full of chocolate items — if it could be made with chocolate or covered in chocolate, it was in there. There’s just one problem – she’s highly allergic to chocolate, and it’s well-known in the office! Now, that working relationship – productive for five years – is a significantly less sweet experience. She believes her manager really doesn’t know her. If he can overlook a serious allergy, is he also overlooking her work achievements?

An online survey of 1,002 randomly selected, full-time employed adults throughout the United States, showed that recognition programs specifically targeted to employees’ preferences play a huge role in employee satisfaction. The October 2005 survey by Maritz Research showed survey respondents who were recognized with employee-specific recognition programs were:

• Eleven times more likely to be completely satisfied with their jobs than those who are not completely satisfied with their employee recognition programs (76 percent versus 7 percent)

• Seven times more likely to spend the rest of their careers with their present company than those who are not completely satisfied with their employee recognition programs (63 percent vs. 9 percent)

• Five times more likely to feel highly valued at their job than those who are not completely satisfied with their employee recognition programs. (73 percent vs. 16 percent)

What can you do to foster a recipe for recognition to increase employee engagement and retention? Start with the main ingredients:

• Establish budget to provide realistic recognition program foundation

• Know your employees’ preferences

• Provide the appropriate forum of recognition, either public or private

• Set up measurable criteria to assess the effectiveness of the recognition program

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 46 percent of those who quit their jobs last year did so because they felt unappreciated. That’s staggering – employees would rather endure the rigors of a job search than stay in a place where recognition is given little attention. By putting some of the ingredients in place for personalized and well-thought-out recognition programs, you create a recipe for employee engagement and, consequently, increased retention. Your organization will become one those 46 percent will look to join.

Debbie Benami-Rahm, M.S., President of DBR Career Services, is a Human Resources strategist who works with businesses to provide employee selection and engagement solutions, resulting in maximized retention and decreased turnover costs. She also works with individuals in career transition. She is the author of “Uncover the Hidden Applicant,” an interviewing resource guide, and creator of the HR² Method for Engaging and Retaining Employees. Debbie can be reached at: For more information, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Every employer must say "Thank You" to its employees for their contributions in organization. Confused about how to motivate employees in the workplace? You can use Bukoo Gifts "Employee Recognition Program" to recognize your employees.