Recognizing Employees? Contributions Can Go a Long Way

Every employee would like to earn as high a salary as they can at their job but surprisingly it's not the number one motivating factor for them in the workplace. Human resource surveys indicate that wages are not even among the top five motivating factors for an employee. What does rank as one of the highest factors is being recognized by their employer for their contributions.

With the current job outlook being referred to as a "buyer's market," job seekers have a lot of positions to choose from. Employers, on the other hand, know there are more jobs than candidates so they have to boost the morale of their employees to retain staff or there might be even more slots to fill.

Bryant Garcia, a corporate recruiter based in Fiducial's Technical and Administrative Support Center (TASC) in Columbia, MD, noted that if you have a motivated employee you'll have a productive employee.

"In order to motivate people you have to acknowledge their efforts," he said. "It's important for employees to have that sense of accomplishment and their employer or their boss feels that they are doing a good job and contributing to the overall success of the business."

While HR studies reveal that employees want to feel valued and know that their contributions are being recognized, some small companies feel that they can't do much in the way of showing their appreciation. But Garcia says that's just not true.

Energizing your employees

"There are a lot of things they can do and most of them are free," he said. "A word or two at the end of a tough week from the office manager or boss who can go around and congratulate everyone on a job well done can go a long way. On Friday, you can let employees leave a little earlier and tell them they've done a great job that week. That has such a resounding effect on their morale that it just energizes people. That's really what you want to do-get to a point where they are energized."

Other suggestions include having an employee of the month club with a small plaque or something that would be displayed in the place of business for everyone to see. Another option would be to energize the entire staff by providing a monthly pizza lunch or something that everyone shares together. Depending on the type of business, awards can be given for the numbers of calls received or the number of clients helped. Milestones can be set for each job and when these are met, make sure that employees are recognized.

"That boosts productivity more than anything," Garcia said. "It makes employees feel happy and productive and they're going to be loyal and want to do well because their job is important to the overall business."

At a time when many companies seem to take their employees for granted, Garcia says that with the abundance of available jobs right now, employers don't have to break the bank to get a lot of return on their goodwill efforts.

"There are simple programs that cost little or no money that can go a long way in keeping people happy," he said.

The most valuable asset

David Moore, a Fiducial franchisee in Fort Lauderdale, FL, doesn't have an awards program for his employees but he makes it a point to celebrate birthdays and special occasions such as anniversaries.

"We have a little luncheon with cake and ice cream," he said. "On Fridays I'll bring in a dozen bagels and we'll all sit down and talk and work together. It gets to be real important. They don't want to miss a birthday. If we were to miss it they would be upset."

Each year, Moore hosts an after tax season party at his home where he invites all his clients, employees and their spouses. "We had about 140 to 150 people attend this year," he said.

Moore says that maintaining morale is very important for him. "Let's face it: our employees are the most valuable asset we have," he said.

In Flagstaff, AZ, Sean Duffy also takes time to recognize birthdays and anniversaries. The Fiducial franchisee also takes his staff out for Christmas dinner.

Like Moore, Duffy considers morale very crucial to the survival of his business so he holds periodic meetings, usually every two weeks where any issues or concerns are addressed.

"It could last anywhere from two to three minutes in length to 45 minutes to an hour," he said. "The topics could be anything from bookkeeping issues with particular clients, clients who keep making the same mistakes or clients that are falling behind and how to resolve that. We always have closure with the ideas as well such as who's going to call which client and when."

Since he's investment licensed, Duffy wants to set up a retirement plan in the near future for his staff.

"It's a major issue with a lot of people," he said. "It's not an incentive plan as such but it really is. People of all ages even those in their 20s should be concerned about retirement."

With pride comes good morale

On Florida's East Coast, Jim Rizzolo tries to create an environment where his employees feel that they are doing something worthwhile in the Fiducial franchisee's Port St. Lucie office.

"I believe that and instill that in my staff," he said. "And I try to have them do work that they can be proud of and to motivate them to be proud of the work they do as it stands up in the community against others."

Rizzolo says that with pride comes good morale and one thing he always does is keep his word when he says he's going to do something.

"If I say you're going to get a raise on a certain date you will get it on that date," he said. "That helps my staff's confidence. They know what to expect from me. I'm pretty much of a straight shooter."

Rocky St. John likes to surprise his employees in his Fiducial office in Colorado Springs, CO. Recently, he gave away two tickets for dinner at a local restaurant to an unsuspecting staffer.

"I appreciate what they're doing," he said. "That's something that will put something behind my words."

St. John says he's pretty liberal about giving employees time off. His payroll person has a husband who's in the U.S. military in Afghanistan. "Whenever he calls nobody bothers her," he said. "We want to support her."

He tries to say "thank you" to his staff when they've gone above and beyond the call of duty by putting a little extra money in their paycheck.

"We just wanted to say thank you with a purpose," he said.

They normally have a gathering for birthdays complete with cake and ice cream along with a $25 check and a birthday card. It's a kind of tradition for St. John who admits he's been doing this in his business "as far back as I can remember."

Having created an environment that's conducive to getting things done, it's also a setting where employees know their work is appreciated.

"I'm slow to attack people and hold them accountable," he said. "I want my door open. I'm much more forgiving and focused on fixing the problem than tearing them down. I'd rather lift them up."

St. John also tries to teach his employees that their absence puts a burden on someone else so they need to be considerate of their fellow staff members. He applauds initiative and will praise his employees during weekly staff meetings.

"I'd rather have people work out their own solutions because they take ownership of it," he said.

Stephen Parezo has 28 years of experience writing for a variety of media and a knack for taking complicated subjects and making them easier to understand. He received his BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park and has covered industries ranging from air cargo to natural gas. Currently, Stephen is the media manager for Fiducial and writes incisive stories on news and topics affecting America's small business owners. His articles appear regularly on http://www.Fiducial.com as the Feature Story of the Week and on http://www.smartpros.com.

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