10 Small Ways to Recognize Great Employees

Make it personal to make it more meaningful.

Everyone likes to be appreciated ad recognized for good work. When a company understands and acts on this fact, the payoff can be significant, especially in today’s challenging construction labor market. That’s why more companies across the board are embracing recognition programs.

In a recent survey of HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 68 percent of respondents said their recognition program positively affects employee retention. An earlier SHRM survey found companies that have a strategic recognition program had turnover rates 23 percent lower than those that didn’t.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Retaining Great Construction Talent

Other research has shown that offering recognition programs boosts employee engagement, which improves productivity, lowers absenteeism rates and even reduces safety incidents.

You can make your awards and recognitions more memorable by making them meaningful to the recipients.

1. Designate a parking spot close to the jobsite

Parking can be a real challenge on a big jobsite, and that often means employees have to walk several blocks or even take a shuttle to where they’re working. But there are usually some spaces up close reserved for the project leaders. Give safety award winners one of those coveted spaces for a week or even a month. You’ll be recognizing their good performance and sending a message that safety really is a big deal at your company.

2. Give them some time off

If project managers have lost family time because of working nights and weekends, reward them with a certificate for a few days or a certain number of hours of paid leave. They can cash in that certificate — no questions asked — to go see their child’s school play, take part in a field trip or just kick back and relax on a beautiful day.

3. Reward an entire team’s performance with a meal

Give your team an extra-long lunch hour and arrange to have a few different food trucks visit the jobsite, with you picking up the tab. If the team’s contributions merit more, reserve a room at a highly rated restaurant and give them a memorable dinner.

4. Offer a getaway that both they and their significant other will enjoy

Summer is a busy time for construction workers, and their loved ones may see a lot less of them. So reward your top performers during the off season with an all-expenses-paid weekend at a nearby resort. It’s a good way to say thanks both to your employee and his or her partner.

5. Provide instant recognition

Give individuals who have won safety awards, reached milestones of service or made above-and-beyond contributions colorful stickers that they can affix to their hard hats. Assign different colors and different shapes for various achievements, so that everyone on the job site will know immediately what they’ve done to earn those badges of honor.

6. Choose gift cards you know they’ll like

While an Amazon gift card is usually welcome, an employee who’s an outdoor sports enthusiast might prefer a certificate to a big box hunting and fishing store. A 20-something who’s a movie buff might like a book of passes to the local IMAX theater. You can either offer employees their choice of options or talk to a direct supervisor to get an idea of what your award winner might like. That tells them you’ve taken the time to get to know them.

7. Give them bragging rights

It’s great to run profiles in your employee newsletter of employees who have come up with ways to reduce costs or save time. But go a step further and give them a framed copy of the profile that they can take home to their families. Put the profile on your website so the employee can send the link to out-of-town family and friends.

8. Share the company perks

Don’t reserve the tickets to ball games or passes to big events at a nearby arena for the company’s owners and managers. Give them out to employees when a customer singles them out for special praise.

9. Give employees the opportunity to recognize their peers

While praise from managers is welcome, it’s sometimes even more meaningful to employees to know that they’re respected and appreciated by their coworkers. The rewards don’t have to be huge — a $10 gift card to a local Starbucks can work well — but the payoff in employee morale can be big.

10. Brainstorm with potential winners

Talk to managers and workers about the kind of rewards that they’d like to see your company offer. Maybe it’s the chance to earn new work gear or replace worn-out tools. Maybe they’d like to have lunch with the boss. To get the biggest bang for your reward bucks, give the people who will be receiving the rewards the opportunity to tell you what will be most meaningful to them.

Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.

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