Employee Engagement Employee Recognition

The Power of Positive Feedback for Employees

We’re all wired to crave positive feedback, and it’s no different in the workplace.

Managers who leverage this innate desire for appreciation can create an environment where employees are engaged and motivated to succeed. 

Giving positive feedback may seem straightforward. But in reality, many managers struggle to do so. Some simply forget to provide positive feedback while others don’t know the best ways to deliver it. Research reveals that only 21% of employees strongly agree that they receive meaningful feedback on what they do, which does take a toll on morale, performance, and retention. 

Fortunately, making positive feedback for employees an integral part of workplace culture requires minimal investment; zero money, just a bit of time and attention to detail.

So what can positive feedback for employees really do?

On a surface level, we all know that giving positive feedback in the workplace is a good idea. But there are specific benefits to it, as well as some very compelling data, such as:

Increasing employee satisfaction and retention

Employees who feel their hard work and contributions are appreciated by their employer tend to have higher satisfaction and loyalty. Even the simplest words of praise can be effective in reducing attrition; research shows that employees who feel underappreciated are twice as likely to want to quit within a year.

Driving employee engagement

By nature, the act of giving feedback means more engagement. According to Gallup, employees who regularly receive meaningful feedback are 80% more likely to be engaged at work. On the flip side, disengaged employees can cost your organization a great deal in lost productivity – a loss that is globally estimated at $8.8 trillion annually.

Enhancing employee performance

Giving positive feedback to employees is tried, tested, and proven to be effective. When you let employees know when they are doing good work, not only do they gain clarity on which activities or behaviors are desired but are motivated to replicate their efforts more frequently.

Encouraging personal development

The effects of positive feedback for colleagues can extend beyond hitting short-term performance goals. Praise gives employees a sense of progress and highlights specific strengths they can build on for personal development and career advancement.

Fostering a culture of appreciation

When employees actively receive praise and words of affirmation, they feel intrinsically motivated to “pay it forward” which feels rewarding. Gradually, recognizing contributions and achievements becomes a shared value that’s ingrained in your organization's culture.

How to give positive feedback to colleagues the right way

With so much to gain and nothing to lose – because it costs $0 to say nice things, you can and should get into the habit of giving positive feedback and appreciating employees for all they do. It’s not completely foolproof though. To derive the above benefits and more, follow these tips:

Give positive feedback on the spot

Be sure to give positive feedback as close to the event or achievement as possible. Immediate reinforcement helps employees connect their actions to the positive outcome and motivates them to repeat desired behaviors. The longer recognition is delayed, the weaker its impact gets.

Make it specific

Avoid vague praise like “good job” or “way to go” which don’t tell employees exactly what it is they did right. Your feedback should always highlight specific actions, projects, skills or values an employee demonstrated. The more detailed you are, the more successful you’ll be at reinforcing those desired actions or behaviors.

How we do it at Guusto

Editor: When our employees send recognition on our platform, we encourage them to use a very simple structure in their messages describing the Situation, their colleague’s Behaviour, and the Impact. This helps us to be specific, and to clearly communicate just what a difference their work has had to the company’s results.

Be sincere

Employees can almost always tell when praise is insincere. There’s no need to exaggerate either as you risk it coming off as sarcasm, which can demoralize instead of uplift them. Positive feedback is most effective when it is heartfelt, and delivered using realistic words and tone.

Be consistent

Consistency is key with recognition. To see the most impact, be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to share words of appreciation with deserving employees, whether it is through check-ins, 1:1s, or group meetings.

Highlight individual and group efforts separately

It’s a nice thing to want to recognize a whole team for an achievement, and in cases where all team members have contributed equally towards that achievement, it’s perfectly fine to do so. However, when the division of labor, for whatever reason, wasn’t equal and success is mainly due to a few or one employee, be sure to highlight the efforts of the employee(s) separately and let them know that you have noticed and appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in.

Offer it publicly

Praise provided in front of peers can be particularly motivating, not just for the praised employee but for other team members, too. They’ll see exactly what behaviors and results are praise-worthy, and they’ll work on emulating them.

Give it in different forms

To keep positive feedback fresh and engaging, you can alternate between formal and informal, public and private, verbal and written formats so it’s different each time. A good practice would also be to tailor it to each employee’s preference. Anonymous survey tools can help you learn these preferences, and gain tonnes of insight on improving workplace culture.

Leverage technology

Using an employee recognition platform can help you facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, tie feedback to values, make praise public, and more with very little effort. It can also help you combine positive feedback with tangible rewards for special events and achievements.  

Giving positive feedback is a simple but powerful act that can do wonders. Employees who feel acknowledged and appreciated become more engaged, loyal, and productive at work. By taking a few minutes each week to recognize people's efforts, progress, and embodiment of company values, you can effectively transform disengaged groups into motivated, high-achieving teams.

Using recognition to deliver positive feedback for employees

Want to deliver a steady, systematic stream of positive feedback to colleagues? In The Ultimate Employee Recognition Playbook, we explore how to use recognition to build a more positive culture of feedback that will inspire your employees to do their best work day after day. 

This free eBook covers:

  • Why recognition matters
  • How to build a case for your program
  • Finding the right solution for your needs
  • Setting goals for your program
  • Launching recognition at your company
  • Measuring your results

Fill out the form below to download your copy today!

In the market for recognition software, or any other HR programs? Check out Select Software Reviews to compare different options.

The Ultimate Employee Recognition Playbook

Find the right program for your needs. Drive adoption and transform your team's culture.

Huda Idris

Written by Huda Idris

Huda has been writing about all things tech for over 10 years. She’s currently an HR Tech Editor at SelectSoftware Reviews, a website committed to delivering unbiased software recommendations. By researching, demoing, and testing various solutions in the HR and TA Tech space, the team at SSR helps thousands of Recruiting and PeopleOps professionals build solid tech stacks.

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