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How To Leverage Employee Recognition To Retain Top Talent

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How To Leverage Employee Recognition To Retain Top Talent In 2023

Attracting and retaining top talent is critical for any organization looking at sustained business growth and profitability. Hence, organizations need to leverage employee recognition to retain top talent as an important aspect of their HR strategy.

Why Retention Of Top Talent Is So Critical?


Employee retention is the ability of an organization to minimize the chances of employees leaving the organization to seek job options elsewhere.

The loss of any employee might hurt the organization’s business operations and performance.

However, the loss of the best-performing employees or the top talent might have even greater negative consequences.

Employee Rewards and Recognition

Here are a few reasons why the loss of top talent can be detrimental to the organization:

1. Disruption of business process or loss of continuity of business operations

2. Decline or loss of important customer relationships

3. Loss of critical business or process knowledge

4. Loss of opportunity for innovation and business growth

5. Loss of competitive advantage especially if top talent joins the competition

6. Fall in efficiency, productivity, and quality of work

7. Additional costs involved in hiring and training a replacement

8. Drop in the morale of other members of the workforce

What Does The Top Talent Want?

Employee recognition is core to the HR strategy of any organization.

Poor employee recognition could be one of the key reasons for the poor retention of top talent in the organization.

To understand this, let’s look at what the best-performing employees want when it comes to employee recognition:

What Do The Top Talent Actually Want?

1. Appreciation For Good Work

Employee Appreciation

Being appreciated for their good work is a basic human need.

The top performing employees in the organization put in their best efforts towards achieving the desired results for their organization.

If the organization fails to acknowledge and recognize their efforts and contributions, it results in a loss of motivation for them.

This impacts their self-confidence and makes them feel unwanted in the organization.

Consequently, they may start looking for other employment options where they might have a more important role to play and are better appreciated.

2. Social Visibility For Achievements

Social Recognition is Essential for Employee Recognition

Social recognition of their work and achievements is of great value to all employees, especially to the top talent.

However, when the organization fails to recognize and celebrate their achievements, there is a feeling of loss of self-worth.

They may interpret it as a sign that their skills and their dedication do not hold much value for the organization.

This might prompt them to seek other job opportunities, where their need for recognition can be better fulfilled.

3. Recognition From Supervisors

Achievements that Organizations must Absolutely Recognize

Employees need recognition from their supervisors and managers for their achievements.

This is especially true for the top talent who may repeatedly exceed expectations and overachieve on their goals.

Recognition from their supervisors can increase their self-worth and job satisfaction, and create better working relationships with the supervisors.

This can lead to their staying in the organization for longer.

4. Appreciation From Peers

Integrating Employee Recognition with the Organizational Culture

Similarly, appreciation and acknowledgment from their co-workers can increase their sense of value to their team and the organization.

It also helps create a conducive work environment, which can encourage the top talent to stay longer.

What are the Best Practices To Leverage Employee Recognition To Retain Top Talent?

Employee Rewards and Recognition

In their effort to prevent their best employees from leaving, organizations often tend to focus only on levers such as higher compensation.

However, they often overlook employee recognition as one of the simplest yet key strategies for enhancing employee retention.

Here are a few best practices that organizations can follow for leveraging employee recognition to boost employee retention:

Best Practices To Leverage Employee Recognition To Retain Top Talent

1. Ensure Instant And Timely Recognition


Offering instant and timely recognition in the form of spot awards can be one of the best ways to assure top employees that they are valued and appreciated by their supervisors and the organization.

Timely recognition makes it more meaningful and motivates the employees to keep up their good performance.

Spot recognition can prove extremely effective in boosting employee morale and the sense of belonging to the organization. 

2. Offer Rewards With Monetary Benefits

Gift Cards

Monetary rewards are very effective for employee recognition.

Giving that extra financial benefit can be the best way to keep the best-performing employees happy and committed.

Monetary benefits can enhance the value of recognition in the eyes of the employees making them more impactful.

Organizations should consider offering financial benefits in the form of cash or gift cards as part of the spot awards, employee of the month awards, quarterly and annual awards, etc.

3. Use Gamification To Generate Interest


Even the best recognition programs can become monotonous and boring over some time causing employees to lose interest in them.

An effective way to overcome this problem is by introducing gamification elements and techniques to make the programs much more exciting.

Implementing concepts like reward points, leaderboards, badges, walls of fame, contests, and challenges can help maintain the interest of employees in recognition programs.

Gamification can help engage the top talent who are likely to make the best use of the program as they would usually win the highest number of reward points.

4. Promote Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer-to-Peer Recognition – Understanding the Nuts and Bolts

Peer-to-peer recognition empowers employees to appreciate the good work and sincere efforts of their co-workers; thus building a healthy work environment.

Receiving a shoutout or a note of appreciation from their co-workers can boost the motivation of top employees in a big way.

Even the best employees feel motivated by the appreciation and support of their peers.

It strengthens their bond with the team and helps create a better work environment.

5. Enable Social Visibility of Recognition


Social visibility of their good work and achievements creates a sense of pride and positivity among the best-performing employees.

Such social recognition helps them feel that the organization values their contribution towards its growth and success.

Social visibility of employee recognition can be achieved through award ceremonies as part of team meetings or town halls and the involvement of the top management.

Publishing the recognition on organization-wide platforms such as MS Teams, Slack, or the Intranet, or even on company social media handles can help in creating the required visibility within and even outside the organization.

6. Celebrate Personal Milestones

Importance of Celebrating Personal Milestones of Employees

Celebrating the personal milestones of employees can send out a positive message to them about being valued by the organization as individuals.

When organizations choose to acknowledge and celebrate the special moments and occasions in the lives of their employees they win their trust and loyalty.

Celebrations of birthdays, work anniversaries, weddings, parenthood, and other such personal milestones of employees make them feel like an integral part of the organizational family and strengthen their sense of commitment.

7. Utilize A Digital Recognition Platform

Best Appreciation Messages for Employee Recognition

Investing in employee recognition software can help make the process of recognition much easier and more impactful.

It can enable organizations to initiate recognition, start conversations, boost engagement and coordination, and strengthen the social bonding between employees.

Organizations should look to take advantage of the various features and functionalities offered by these platforms to reward and recognize their top employees effectively.

Such platforms can enable smooth and timely recognition, gamification of work, monetary benefits such as gift cards, publishing recognition updates on other platforms, etc.

These might be most appreciated by the top talent who are likely to be the biggest recipients.

Wrapping Up

The success and growth of any organization heavily rely on its top talent. When employees feel valued and connected to their colleagues and company, they are less likely to quit. Therefore, organizations should focus on utilizing employee recognition as an effective HR strategy to retain their top talent.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.