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5 Ways to Recognize Top Performers

November 28, 2022

recognize top performers

If retention is a top priority for your company, you’re not alone. With unemployment near historic lows, employees have the gift of choice these days. And while this is great news for employees, employers everywhere are wondering how to reduce employee turnover. One way to do so is to recognize top performers in an impactful way.

In fact, 4.4 million employees quit their jobs in February of this year alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although some turnover is inevitable, losing top performers is particularly costly.

Luckily, managers and leaders aren’t powerless in times of high turnover. There are ways to help increase employee engagement and prevent excessive turnover. One simple way is with employee recognition.


Benefits of Employee Recognition

We know that employee recognition is one of the most underutilized tools for preventing employee turnover. Research from Forbes has found that companies scoring in the top 20% for their culture of recognition had turnover rates 31% lower. Another study found that 63% of employees who feel recognized are unlikely to look for a new job.

But recognition doesn’t only positively affect turnover – it boosts engagement too.

Research shows, employees are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged when they believe they’ll be recognized for their work. Employee engagement, productivity, and customer service are about 14% higher where recognition occurs compared to where it doesn’t. And 82% of people are happier when they’re recognized at work.

Yet 82% of American professionals feel that they aren’t adequately recognized for their contribution.

Sadly, research confirms these feelings. According to a Gallup poll, only one in three employees were recognized for their work in the last 7 days. Another report found that employees had averaged 50 days since they were last recognized.

So, while recognition works, it’s oftentimes not used – or not used correctly.

How to Recognize Top Performers

Recognizing your top performers not only helps you keep them from leaving; it also helps you keep them happy and engaged. Here are 5 ways to recognize your top performers for their achievements.

1. Say 'Thank You.'

Seems easy enough, but this simple and free way to recognize top performers is often overlooked when schedules are busy and time is short. Block off an hour a week in your calendar specifically to reach out to your top performers and recognize them for a recent contribution.

If once a week feels intimidating, don’t worry. You don’t have to acknowledge a major win every week. In fact, sometimes noticing the small things will be even more impactful. See if you notice someone on your team working calmly under pressure. Maybe they helped another team member or were willing to join an impromptu meeting. There are likely all kinds of things that your employees are doing every day that are worth a shoutout.

Looking for ways to mix it up? Why not write a note, make a call, or post some appreciation on a social site?


RELATED: How to Write a Recognition Letter: Template and Examples


2. Share Top Performer Achievements Publicly

Describing an individual's contribution in a company newsletter or team meeting builds up your best employees. And, bonus, it gives peers an example to emulate. For high level contributions consider doing a press release to your local media or a company-wide announcement.

If you have an employee recognition budget in place, consider investing in a recognition program. There are all kinds of programs available to help build recognition into your company’s culture. Ours is Be Recognized.

Terryberry's Recognition Platform offers a comprehensive solution that can host your recognition efforts, including milestone and service awards, peer-to-peer social recognition, feedback and communication, and performance and incentive rewards.

This platform is a great way to help in creating a culture of recognition by empowering employees (as well as leaders) to recognize each other.


3. Give Bragging Rights

Tangible display awards like engraved crystal awards or award presentation piecescommemorate achievements now and for years to come. Today, many people believe money is the most valuable gift. And while money will always be relevant; it may not always be the most inspiring gift.

This is because so many of us use money for practical purposes, like filling up our tank or setting it aside for a rainy day. But instead, imagine that you worked hard on a project. Later, your boss or CEO hands you a personalized memento at a company-wide event and speaks earnestly about how important your specific talents are to the greater mission of the company.

We’re willing to bet that moment will inspire you to continue doing great work and will stay with you for years to come. It’s not necessarily the specific item that excites you, it’s what it represents. It’s a permanent, tangible reminder that your work and talents are appreciated.


4. Utilize Meetings

Since the team has all gathered for meetings already, this can be the perfect time to give public recognition to the group. Just keep in mind the type of meeting, the recognition being given, and the person receiving the recognition. Depending on the recipient’s comfort level, it may be best to move quickly through this portion or it may be appropriate to take a moment to really celebrate.

Don’t forget to celebrate personal wins here too. Maybe they just bought a house or are taking a class. Following up with your employees about their achievements outside of work is a small way to so that you support them as a person, not just an employee.


5. Give an Exclusive Award or Unique Award

You've likely got top performers in each department of your company. Finding ways to recognize these people in ways that resonate with them, can be particularly impactful. Consider giving unique awards specific to the role, like a "The Customer is Always Right Award" for your top customer service rep. Or a "Safety First" award for someone in your manufacturing team.

Awards that are personalized for the individual and symbolic of the company or achievement will instill pride in your top performers.


RELATED: 15 Original Employee Award Ideas That Show You Care

Getting Started

Providing meaningful recognition is essential for companies to succeed in today's market and employee recognition software is a great place to start.

If you’re interested in learning more about Terryberry’s employee recognition platform, contact us today to set up a demo. See how our recognition platform incorporates social recognition, performance awards, milestone awards, and barrier-free communication all under one streamlined platform.


Comments (1)

  • Duncan M. says:

    Top employees are extremely valuable for the company. This is why it is so important to keep them close and motivated. A great way to do it is to recognize their hard work. I find these five ways easy to implement, and best of all they do not require a considerable amount of time and work, thus they are feasible even for extremely busy managers.

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