The Link Between Recognition and Retention

21 December 2021 |


As entrepreneurs, you’ll know the value of your workforce.


As your company grows, it is likely that you’ll need to take on more staff. This is an exciting step, but also means you’ll need excellent employees. Ones you can trust to keep your company running. And this can be scary. As entrepreneurs, we spend so long nurturing our company that we have to ensure we find the right people to help us with our vision. And once you’ve found them, you will not want to let them go. However, in such a fast-paced world, employee retention can be a difficult thing to contend with.


Over 30 years of experience of working in many businesses both large and small has taught our Founder, David B Horne, that recognition is intrinsic to retention. But so many companies fail to provide regular feedback to their employees, which can negatively impact on staff turnover. And it’s not just us that think this.


Leadership trainer, Zenger Folkman, did a study of 22,000 leaders in a variety of countries and found that feedback and employee engagement were directly linked.


According to their findings, when it came to offering feedback, those companies in the top decile had employees who were three times more engaged than those in the bottom decile. In addition to this, businesses in the latter category had staff who were three times more likely to contemplate leaving. And the benefits of feedback don’t stop there. Employees who received consistent feedback were also shown to go the extra mile for their employer and enjoy better relationships with their manager.


Feedback is clearly key


But how to structure it? And when? We’ve compiled three key steps below to help you implement a fuss-free feedback system into your business.


1. Implement weekly catch-ups.


Managers should be meeting with their direct reports on a weekly basis to discuss priorities, answer any questions and explore the focus for the upcoming week. However, it is vital to also include a five minute round up on the previous week’s performance too. Not only will this encourage employees to be reflective about their role, but it will provide a platform for regular feedback. The content of these check-ins may vary. At times, you will need to prepare considered questions for your employee to reflect on their performance, considering how something could be improved next time. This may be challenging, but the aforementioned study noted that employees who received constructive criticism were still 100% more engaged than those who received nothing at all.


On other occasions, your employee’s performance will be as expected which you may not feel the need to note. However, we would urge you to communicate something. It may just be a simple comment like ‘Well done, you’re all on track for this week. Thanks for keeping on top of things!’ However, we challenge you to find one positive thing each week to focus on and feed this back to your employee. If you have a good workforce there is no doubt you’ll be able to find something to praise! And if you have an employee who needs development, this regular contact will hugely benefit them.


2. Consider introducing value awards that are given out each week.


If your company has particular buzz words to live by, such as adventure, consistency or innovation, create an award for them. There doesn’t have to be a big song and dance about it, but each week you should consider who in the company has exemplified any of your values that week. It can be as simple as sending out an email with an attached and personalised award along with a paragraph on why whichever employee has been chosen to receive said award. There should be a small prize to add further recognition. A £30 Waitrose voucher or something similar would work perfectly.


This way, your employee can buy a bottle of wine, special meal or a new house plant on you! And we guarantee you that when they enjoy said gift, they will think of the company. With 52 weeks in a year, this will cost your company a mere £1,560. The cost of losing a key employee, or the fallout that can occur when you are understaffed, far outweighs this cost. And if you’re thinking that you already have awards, our questions are: How often? Do enough people feel recognised? And how are they celebrated?


3. Do not give feedback in pressured situations.


Although we have noted the importance of relaying information on how your employee is performing, whether negative or positive, it should certainly not be delivered in an off-the-cuff way. We all know that times can be tough, and things can go wrong. However, it can be hugely damaging to subject someone to an unwarranted offhand comment. This is why the set weekly meetings provide the perfect time for feedback. Both parties will have had time to think about what has happened and approach the session in a measured and considered way.


That being said, positive comments are almost always welcome, so do not hold back from giving someone praise if you feel it is deserved. We often think positively about our employees but are less likely to voice it. Don’t overlook the power of recognition!


For more information on the relationship between feedback and a happy workforce, check out the white paper Zenger Folkman published on the importance of feedback here.


Until next time!

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