Why Appreciating Your Employees Externally Is More Important Than You Think

One of my favourite events to organise is the annual diversity initiative, the Forward Ladies (FL) National Awards & summit. It’s a real honour to meet and to celebrate some fantastic female trailblazers and male agents of change – giving them a platform to share, support and inspire others.

This is our own way of supporting the Northern Powerhouse agenda by hosting the national finals in Leeds and not London!
We have categories that bring together large blue-chip corporate organisations, small businesses, the young, the experienced, men and women like no other event in the U.K. As someone who spends a lot of time engaging with businesses looking to improve diversity, I am still consistently amazed at how we continue to underestimate the power of external recognition initiatives such as awards as a tool for improving employee morale and engagement.

I am shocked to hear women who have been shortlisted for an award say that they are unable to negotiate the time off to attend the award ceremony because it is their company’s policy not to support such initiatives!
Their employers have a policy not to support staff who have been externally recognised for an award? This baffles me.

For me, these awards are not just about presenting a trophy or the celebrations, all though they are most enjoyable, it is about recognising and rewarding talent where recognition is due and, in most cases, largely overlooked. The evidence points to the fact that employees who receive frequent recognition and praise are more productive, engaged at work and loyal to their employers.
Yet, Ironically, our preferred attempts at recognition continue to be handing out uninspiring items such as key rings, pens, mugs, notebooks or watches to employees for years of dedicated service when what we all want and crave is our boss’s time and attention. We want validation that our contribution matters.

It used to be that after university, you got a job for a lifetime. You worked with the same employer, climbed the corporate ladder steadily and hoped for a great pension on retirement. Things have changed in the last few decades. There is no pension to keep any one hanging around and people are looking for meaning, connection and shared values with their employers and would job hop to find it.
Allowing your employees the flexibility to pick their own rewards, for example, to attend external recognition initiatives is an easy win for any business. It shows what a great employer you are and most importantly your staff are appreciative of your support and commitment to their development. They will come back motivated and inspired to do more and achieve more.  It does not require a significant investment of money or time to make this work in your favour.
External recognition initiatives have four key ingredients that make them worthy of your consideration. They are personalised, public, frequent and social which are vital for getting the most out of any recognition programme. Giving people what they want is a guaranteed way to make them feel better, drive productivity, and improve morale. They will, in turn, take care of your customers, your brand and your profits.

The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out – HERE