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By Darryl Stewart

Are your employees’ best efforts routinely ignored?

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One third of all employees in any given organization feel that no one cares when they go above and beyond; another third don’t feel they receive appropriate recognition for what they do.

Positive reinforcement is extremely important to motivation on the job. Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to quit their job in the next year and even if they don’t quit, these same employees are 10 to 20 percent less productive on average. Research on the human brain shows a dopamine (pleasure fix) increase from positive reinforcement on par with a great meal or a sensual physical experience.

Providing your team with proper recognition is very powerful and ridiculously low cost, yet it is such a rarity.

You may think you are delivering good positive reinforcement to your team, but you may in fact not be doing enough to get the full effect. To get to the optimum level you need to overcome the built-in human tendency to notice the negative over the positive, also known as the negativity bias. This tendency leads to a natural emphasis by most managers to focus on what someone is doing wrong. Being critical is natural, providing positive reinforcement is not. Great mangers learn to overcome their natural negativity bias and focus on what is right more than what is wrong. A few bits of praise here and there are not enough.

An important part of improving recognition of employees is to discover the forms of feedback that mean the most to each employee.

  • Some of your staff will appreciate public words of recognition; some prefer it in private.
  • Some of your staff will love your positive words of praise; others will find them hollow, even if they are very authentic. The recognition they seek to go along with the words is more responsibility, more challenging work or signs that they have earned your trust.

Jealously is a real issue for managers that practice positive reinforcement. It is important to make sure that you do the best job possible backing up all your positive reinforcement with very specific examples of what was so good that the person did or does to reduce the chance of perceived favouritism.

In a recent blog, I talked about ways to generate positive feedback for a coaching session. This technique helps me to make sure I learn good things about each of the people I manage and coach, supplementing my first-hand experience. We will always work more closely with some of the people we manage than with others, and this has helped me with that reality.

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.