It makes sense that in an industry with care at its core, employers would value employees and express appreciation for their efforts, said Joel Bishop from human resources consulting and services company O.C. Tanner, who spoke at a session during the annual meeting of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.
That recognition isn't always given, but when it is, the reward for workers is that they feel more connected to the organization and its purpose, and the benefit for employers is a workforce that is more productive, Bishop said.
"When people are inspired, organizations grow and people do their best work," he said.
But appreciation can begin even before the great work occurs, he said, adding: "We're talking about creating a culture that facilitates and fosters people to want to give their best work."
Leaders, Bishop said, inspire people to "really come alive in the organization." When workers are engaged, he said, they are loyal and productive and advocate for the organization.
But engagement does not simply mean that employees are happy, Bishop added; employees also must be focused on the work-related goals expected by the organization.
Managers should recognize their staff members once per week, on average, according to Gallup research, Bishop said. To meet that goal, he suggested that managers add a five- to 10-minute "recognition review" to their calendars three times a week to remind them to write a note, send an e-card, present an award or walk around the organization to say thanks in person.
"When you do that, it enables you to be timely with recognition," he said. And when it comes to timeliness, recognition should be given as soon as possible after the particular achievement being acknowledged.
And recognition must be inclusive, Bishop said, as in: "Everyone is not only eligible for but they're actually receiving recognition."
Managers marking special occasions for employees, such as work anniversaries or a certain level or service, should be specific, tying the recognition back to the mission and vision of the organization and to those affected by the action. Also, he said, managers should personalize the recognition to the individual being honored so that it is meaningful to him or her. And be sincere, with words that are "honest, true and heartfelt."
"You have a noble cause in your organization," Bishop concluded. "You need to inspire people around that and rally around that. As you do so and make recognition both meaningful to them and purposeful to the organization, you'll have success creating a culture of appreciation leading to a culture of great work."