Everyone loves another engraved plaque, right? And nothing says “great teamwork” like another coffee mug. Yes, employees respond to acknowledgement that the work they’re doing is valued. But it’s not about dust-collecting tokens. A company culture that recognizes people on an ongoing basis drives work satisfaction and productivity. And something as simple as a Post-It note can be a powerful motivational tool.

Rewards needn’t be complicated, and they don’t have to be extravagant. Here are five principles for recognizing and rewarding your team:

Reward Often. Don’t hold back. Contrary to old-school management beliefs, you can’t spoil your employees with praise. Always be on the lookout for achievements, large and small. Often, a heart-felt and well-timed “good job!” is exactly what’s needed. Say it out loud, or write it in a note. Just don’t hold it in. For larger achievements, you don’t have to wait until year end. Acknowledge accomplishments when they happen.

Make it Personal. Some people live to be applauded in an all-hands staff meeting. For others, public attention is cringe-worthy. When rewarding individuals, keep in mind it will only be meaningful if it’s valued by the employee. When it comes to teams, one group may value a catered lunch, while others may get a boost from an afternoon of miniature golf. Be flexible and creative within established guidelines.

Be Authentic. Your employees can smell fake praise a mile away. The same old awards ceremony with the same old trophies is sure to get stale after a while. Whether you’re honoring a single employee or a team, be sure to detail how their accomplishments made you proud. If you’re unfamiliar with their project, ask their manager to present a description.

Be Fair. Every team member should have a chance at recognition. Employees who suspect favoritism or believe their achievements go unnoticed will have a hard time finding that extra energy when crunch time comes. Recognition must also fit the accomplishment. Major milestones warrant high-value rewards, but managers can also be on the lookout for opportunities to call attention to small wins with spontaneous treats.

Align Rewards with Company Values. “You get what you reward for,” the old adage warns. Recognition goes hand-in-hand with the company’s mission, vision, and goals to help reinforce those values. One effective way this can be done is to have a higher-level boss or executive visit the team personally to express their appreciation.

And then there’s the power of the Post-It note. Any accomplishment, no matter how small, can be reinforced with a sincere note. Here are a few phrases to get started: “Great job on the…”, “I’ve been extremely impressed with…”, “I sure appreciate…” This simple gesture, which takes a moment of time, is surprisingly meaningful to the employee. Don’t be surprised if you see your Post-It notes of appreciation stuck to the team member’s computer or bulletin board like mini affirmations.

You’ve no doubt seen the statistics. It’s not just the paycheck that fuels hard working employees. It’s all about knowing they’re valued, appreciated, and making a difference. Reward your team, and you’ll be rewarded with their dedication.

This is another blog article I wrote for my friends at AptoZen.

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