Give credit where it’s due

I’m writing this after just walking out of a catered lunch at which The Herald honored employees who have worked for the company for at least 20 years.

I’ve been here nearly 27 years, and it was the first time the powers that be had ever done anything to say “thanks” to all of their longtime workers.

I have to tell you, I had fun and it felt great. Mostly what I liked about it was that we were thanked for all the effort we’d put in to make the company a success.

But this column isn’t about me. It’s intended for managers and business owners.

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you thanked your employees for a good job on a simple task, a great year or a long period of lengthy service?

If you can’t immediately think of an example, it’s been too long. And you’re really missing the boat.

According to the Gallup polling organization, recognition was one of the most important things employers can do to keep their peeps happy, productive and not looking around for greener pastures.

In a 2003 study of nearly 5,600 government business units, Gallup found strong links between recognition and:

* Higher performance. The success rate on financial measures was 27 percent higher for people who were praised for good work.

* Greater customer loyalty. Satisfied workers treated people better.

* Improved safety. Recognized workers had fewer injuries and fewer days off due to injury.

How does this recognition stuff work?

In a partnership with the Public Employees Roundtable, Gallup put out a pamphlet in 2004 titled “Best Practices in Workplace Recognition.”

It recommends:

* Reach all workers. Good managers find a way to recognize each employee when that employee shows excellent performance. If you recognize the same people all the time and ignore others all the time, you’re setting your organization up for a fall. “The worst possible thing you can do to someone at work is to ignore him or her,” Gallup says.

* Set the organization’s values. Reward people who support your values and goals. That’s a great way to make sure people know what’s important and what’s not.

* Use a variety of methods. “The more abundant recognition is in a workplace culture, the more likely it will come in different forms and from different directions – not just from the top down, but up the hierarchy as team members recognize their managers and laterally as peers recognize peers,” Gallup says.

Recognizing workers can be fun and should also be creative and customized.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Money is nice, but it is not required.

Is the person a film buff? How about some movie tickets and a gift certificate for a nice dinner?

Can’t think of the right award for someone? Make up a title and a nice certificate. Have fun with it.

Has the person been working a lot of long days recently? Give them a couple of days off.

“The best managers realize that when recognition succeeds, it is because it is sincere and individualized,” the pamphlet advises.

You should also make sure that recognition is fairly frequent and extends from the newest employee right up through the management structure.

Along that line, I’m told The Herald’s recognition of long-term employees is expected to become an annual event.

That’s great. I’ve got my 25-year pin (only two years late) and I’m working on 30.

Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459;

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