Recognition + reinforcement = retention. It’s a fairly simple equation; however, it’s execution often falls short due to employers and managers not placing enough importance on recognizing and reinforcing positive employee behavior. A recent study conducted by Reward Gateway found that approximately 22% of senior staff members don’t believe that regular, consistent recognition influences retention rates. It’s time for that 22% to start believing as approximately 50% of employees surveyed would leave their job if they did not feel appreciated.

If you haven’t put much thought into how recognition and reinforcement can help improve your company’s retention rates, use the following ideas to complete the equation.


  • Engaging employees in conversations is one way to show them that you recognize them as valued individuals rather than disposable cogs in the corporate machine. Make the extra effort to find out what projects they are working on, what skills they are contributing to their team, and how they are feeling about their progress. Retain this information, and recall details in later conversations to reinforce that you are invested in them and value their contributions to your company.


  • Verbal recognition of employee contributions goes a long way to boost office morale. In fact, 70% of employees polled by Reward Gateway said that morale and motivation would skyrocket if managers would simply say “thank you” on a consistent basis. Don’t shy away from giving employees positive verbal feedback in front of their peers and managers, or even giving positive feedback to an employee in a different department. Lead by example and make recognizing good work a part of your company’s culture.


  • As an employer or manager, you should make praise and recognition consistent regardless of the recipient. While you may have favorite employees (usually top performers) who receive positive feedback often, don’t forget to recognize lower performing employees when you see progress. After all, motivating struggling employees through positive reinforcement may give them the confidence that they need to become successful.


  • Recognition should be frequent and given in a timely manner to keep office morale and employee engagement high. The graph below, provided by Reward Gateway, shows that less than 50% of employees believe that their company provides timely recognition. The same study reported that 84% of employees believe that acknowledgement of success should be given continually year round. These stats show that employees crave positive reinforcement and should not be kept waiting until their annual review to hear what areas they are excelling in; instead, you should be reinforcing desired behavior by showing your appreciation as it is earned.


  • Creating visibility of employee success not only allows team members to see the accomplishments of their peers, but it also serves as positive reinforcement for everyone in the office. In addition to utilizing a “Staff Shout Out Board” (or something similar), you can create visibility of employee accomplishments among senior staff members by recording achievements in their file.



These are simple, yet effective, ways to recognize employees, show appreciation for hard work, reinforce positive behaviors, and ultimately retain employees who add value to your team and the company.