The fallacy in this statement lies in the fact that employees are human and not machines. We get paid to do a job. We volunteer to do it exceptionally well.
Recently in SmartBrief on Leadership, David Dye put it this way:
“This fundamental truth — that everyone is a volunteer — will change your leadership forever. Every person on your team becomes a gift. Every action they take is a freely given gift. Every ounce of energy they expend on a project is a gift.
“Your work as a leader shifts from force to invitation, from control to influence, from fear to gratitude. You won’t lead to wring out the worst, but to bring out the best.”
Yes, appropriate and fair compensation is critical to establishing a contract with employees. But if you want to establish a relationship, then you need to invest beyond contractual elements of pay. A relationship is built on mutual trust and an expectation that exceptional efforts will be noticed, valued and appreciated.
That’s the purpose of employee recognition – not to stroke egos or give gold stars, but communicate clearly, specifically and meaningfully on how an employee’s efforts contributed to a greater goal. When we know our efforts help others (a team member, the manager, the client or the company as a whole), then we willingly become volunteers to give the vital discretionary effort that’s the difference between a highly engaged employee and one who just comes to work to collect a paycheck.
Why should you care if employees are highly engaged? Research from Towers Watson, Gallup, Aon Hewitt, Mercer, Hay Group, Bersin by Deloitte and many more consistently shows that engaged employees are more productive, miss fewer days of work, have fewer safety incidents, and better understand company strategic objectives and how they can contribute to achieving those goals. In other words, you get much more bang for your buck from engaged employees.
What’s the general attitude towards recognition in your organization? Would you work harder if you were recognized more?
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.