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With Employee Recognition, Make It Personal

Written by Jenna Weiner
Published: 9/14/2009

More personal recognition programs can help boost morale, productivity, and employer-employee communication.

With the recession making it even more important for small businesses to keep their employees productive and motivated, many companies are looking to revamp their incentive programs.

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Inc. magazine reported that many businesses are seeking to create more personal recognition campaigns, finding that the typical gift card or email did not significantly improve morale levels.

For example, one IT services firm - St. Louis-based Datotel - found that its employee-of-the-month program failed to significantly improve employee morale, the magazine reported.

In response, the founder and president made the recognitions more personal by calling, writing a handwritten note, or having an in-person discussion with the high-performing employee.

The article noted that the impact of a well-designed incentive and appreciative program may extend even beyond morale levels - it may make it easier for employees to accept criticism.

"If you make it clear that you are trying to make employees better at what they do, positive and negative feedback become a regular part of the conversation," business consultant Rick Maurer told the magazine.

Though this may not sound like surprising news for small business owners, employee motivation can make a significant difference in a business' bottom line, especially when it comes to top-performing employees - a recent study from Watson Wyatt found that 52 percent of employers have become more concerned about retaining their "critical-skill employees" than they were before the recession.

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