About a month ago, I ran my first-ever half marathon. Yes, a whole 13.1 miles. It was no easy challenge and there was definitely some mental and physical prepping involved. But even if you’re as prepared as you can be, you never really know how hard it’s going to be the day of. You can’t predict the course, the weather or how you’re going to feel that morning.
But as you line up on the starting line with the rest of the 1,000 people running, you get a jolt of energy. Once you start running, you think to yourself “this isn’t so bad! I can do this! 13.1 miles is nothing!” But as you pass mile 3, then 4, then 5… you start to hit an energetic plateau. What once felt effortless at the beginning of the race now seems a little bit out of reach.
Somewhere along the halfway point, after you’ve passed another water station, you start to wonder how much longer you’re going to be running for and why you even signed up to do this in the first place. Then you unexpectedly hear someone say “good job! You got this!” While flashing you a big smile and putting out their hand for a high-five.
You accept the friendly gesture. But what you didn’t realize is that the act of high-fiving also gave way to a sense of power that you didn’t have five minutes ago.
Great recognition is only a high-five away
That right there is recognition in its most basic form. A high-five. A reminder that you’re not in it alone - people are recognizing your efforts and encouraging you to keep doing what you’re doing because, frankly, you’re crushing it.
The same goes for recognition in the workplace. Have you ever worked on an intense project, put a ton of effort into it and needed a push in the middle of it? Doesn’t it feel nice to be recognized for all your hard work?
At Reward Gateway, our peer-to-peer recognition program is appropriately called "High Fives." Employees freely send one another eCards for endless reasons at any time for non-monetary recognition. Some of the reasons you might send them include:
Saying thanks for your help.
Congratulating someone on a promotion or life event.
All-in-all, eCards not only help recognize employees for their efforts, but they encourage collaboration, motivation and teamwork. They also genuinely improve employee communications by building and promoting a culture of open and honest communication.
Building continuous employee recognition with great supporters
Just like those high-fives helped me in the middle of my run, continuous recognition throughout an employee’s journey at your organization is especially important. Recognition shouldn’t just happen randomly or at the end of the year because you might forget what the person even did in the first place.
Recognition should be frequent, timely, continuous and open to anyone – just like a high-five. The high-fives in the middle of my race were just as impactful as the ones at the end, but the key is to recognize throughout. It’s all about timing. When it comes to employee recognition best practices, the four MUSTs are essential for successful employee recognition: Meaningful, Unified, Spotlight and Timely.
Keep in mind, building a recognition culture comes from the people around you. Just like those people cheering me on helped me during my run – teamwork helps get people involved and embeds desirable behaviors in the workplace. And that’s why a successful recognition moment doesn’t just lead to high-fives, but better value for the business, too.
My boyfriend, Brian, and I right after I finished my race. How lucky am I to have this supportive superstar?!
T-shirts may come and go, but that first moment of recognition isn’t something you can touch or hold.
Finishing my half marathon wasn't about the free T-shirt or snacks or even the medal. Finishing isn’t a materialistic thing. It’s about feeling accomplished for yourself and then feeling recognized to know you did a good job to continue that behavior.
I’m grateful to those who high-fived me on race day because it gave me the motivation to keep going. The power of a “you got this” or “keep up the good work” goes a long way and has influenced me to continue running. In fact, I’m signing up for my second race in September and can’t wait!
Meghan Barrett is the Content Marketing Editor at Reward Gateway. Outside of writing about employee engagement, she spends her time capturing sunsets with her camera, making a mess in the kitchen and relaxing in local cafes while eating chocolate croissants.
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