Imagine you’ve been working hard on a new recruitment strategy. You’ve burned through a number of hours and cups of coffee designing a social media campaign, sourcing the right candidates and editing and re-editing job profiles until you feel proud of the finished product. It goes live, performs well … and no one says anything. You focused all your efforts on this strategy, only to find it wouldn’t have made any difference if you hadn’t gone that extra mile.
Too often employees who go above and beyond, whether in their own work, or in helping others to improve, fail to be recognized. What people really want is recognition for their hard work. The interesting thing is that this doesn’t necessarily mean spending more on bonuses and gift cards. OfficeVibe found that:
Not only can a lack of recognition cause extreme disengagement, a study by Office Team reported:
Simply sharing more positive feedback can have a major impact, not only on employee happiness, but on your organization as a whole.
The benefits of positive feedback
While some may argue that needing more praise is a millennial issue, there is actually a scientific reason why it has such a strong impact on motivation. Researchers have found that when we receive positive feedback dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls our pleasure and rewards center) is released into the brain. This is what causes that feeling of happiness we get when someone recognizes how much time we put into perfecting that marketing campaign.
However, this is a temporary reaction. As a result, we’re motivated to continue working hard to receive that reward (feeling great about our work) again. This is how positive feedback motivates people to go that extra mile.
Testifying to the power of praise, a survey of US based employees commissioned by OGO found that:
In fact, it’s not only feedback from managers that can have an impact. A study by Globoforce and SHRM showed that:
While failing to recognize employee achievements can have a major impact on turnover, this can be reversed with an effective recognition strategy. According to Bersin & Associates,
If simply remembering to give praise can have such a big impact, why do so few managers and teammates actually do it?
How to turn feedback into a habit for your employees
When done regularly, we know giving praise can have a major impact on our employee’s or teammate’s long term motivation, yet with pressing deadlines, and countless meetings it’s hard to make it a priority.
The trick is to turn praise into a habit. Behavioral psychologists assert that there are three steps you can take to hardwire a new habit into your daily life: create a routine; set a reminder; include a reward.
As a part of our continued effort to celebrate wins, big and small at Impraise we experimented with new ways we could get our people to share more praise with each other. Here’s what we learned:
1. Make giving feedback as easy as possible
Stanford Professor BJ Fogg explains that the key to successfully changing your behaviors is to start with a ‘tiny habit’. Rather than introducing a big change, start with something small that’s easy to accomplish. After getting used to integrating this easy tiny habit into your workflow, you’ll naturally start challenging yourself to do more.
Being avid Slack users, we realized that enabling our people to share praise on Slack would be an easy way to integrate the habit into everyone’s natural workflow. Rather than signing in to our system, people can now send positive feedback by simply typing:
/praise @(recipient’s slack name)
2. Get people into the routine of sharing praise in real-time
Positive feedback has a significantly higher impact when it’s given just after reaching a milestone or achievement. If you wait for the next performance review to recognize your teammate's success on winning that big account, it'll seem more like an afterthought. Celebrating achievements in the moment is the best way to show your appreciation!
When an employee or teammate achieves a goal, does a great job on a presentation, handels a tough situation or helps you or someone else improve, that’s our cue to automatically send them a /praise.
These two elements formed our routine: Someone reaches a milestone (reminder), you send a /praise (routine).
For praise to be truly effective it should be meaningful. The next step helped us with that...
3. Be descriptive when giving feedback
One common mistake people make is to simply say “Good job!” or “Excellent work!” This can simply sounds like praise for the sake of giving praise.
The great thing about recognition is that it not only motivates the recipient, it also signals the kinds of behaviors which are valued in the workplace. Giving vague feedback won’t tell them what exactly it was they did well and should keep doing in the future.
To make praise truly meaningful, we follow this formula:
Describe specific action(s)
Include the impact
4. Reward the behavior
The great thing about positive feedback is that it’s rewarding in itself, making us feel great about our work. What we found is that praise is actually contagious. When your teammate recognizes your work it not only makes you feel great, it also makes you want to share that great feeling.
To make the ‘reward’ portion even more effective, we created a slack channel specifically for our praises. This is a place where everyone’s achievements are publicly recognized - even remote and international teammates.
What we noticed is that the more people received praise notifications on Slack, the more likely they were to share praise with others. This helped us to increase positive feedback throughout the company exponentially.
5. Record your praise
Often our star team members are the ones who go the extra mile to help a colleague or stay until the last detail is perfect, even when their manager is not around.
To make sure those moments don't go unnoticed, we made sure that all /praise is recorded in Impraise so that people can go back and refer to it later or share it with their manager during their next check-in.
Studies show it takes at least 30 days to form a new habit. It’s time to get started! If you’re already an Impraise user you can enable this feature for your organization by following this link or contacting your customer success representative. To get started, have a look at our handy adoption kit including set-up and user guides, email templates, images, promotional posters, custom emojis and more.
If you’re not a user but you're interested in learning more about Impraise, you can schedule time to talk to a member of our sales team here.