How Recognizing Your Employee’s Personal Milestones Can Boost Your Employee Experience and Culture


Recognizing your employees and their accomplishments both personally and professionally, is not a new concept. It’s been around for decades. But these days, something is missing—the human connection.

More than ever, companies are offering increasingly attractive incentives to keep employees excited, engaged and appreciated. It’s clear why, as studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving.

Symbolic recognition

However, it wasn’t always like this. Let’s rewind to the early 1960s. This era was the first time that symbolic recognition became a common practice to help boost retention and reward employees for their dedication and tenure. In large companies including General Motors and IBM, employees were presented with annual service and retirement awards that included engraved watches, pins, or rings plastered with their company logo.

These items grew to become extraordinarily symbolic and highly sought after by employees, who spent the majority of their careers in one organization. A top executive often presented the reward of choice and in front of dozens of employees, all there to celebrate this monumental milestone. The employee was left feeling valued, recognized and proud to be a part of the organization.

Although symbolic recognition still exists today (even in Lego form), in the age of technology and automation, the way we provide employee recognition has shifted, especially in high-growth and high-change industries like software and tech.

Dozens of software platforms now exist, intending to help companies provide employees a means of delivering positive recognition, also known as “kudos.” Kudos, which are given by peers and managers, mainly recognizes employees based on work-related achievements through channels like email or Slack.

Don’t get us wrong, these types of engagement software are great, but the problem is that employees not only want to feel recognized for the work they do, but they also want to be seen as individuals. It’s not only the work we produce and professional talents, that define who we are as people. We have families, children, and relationships outside of work, all of which directly affect our happiness and well-being daily.

Monumental life events such as work anniversaries, birthdays, the birth or adoption of a new child, marriage, or other celebrations are often forgotten or overlooked. As people, it’s natural to want to feel unique, valued and that people and the companies we work for—care.

So although recognizing employees through software is fantastic, it’s missing that human connection of getting to know your peers on a deeper level. Foosball, flexible hours, beer on tap and even cash, is not enough to keep employees around anymore.

The most meaningful rewards tend to be unexpected, specific and demonstrate that the company cares about their employees as people, beyond their working life.  Employees want to feel connected and appreciated by the companies they spend 2,080 hours working for a year.

When companies can positively recognize monumental life moments of their employees, a positive chain of events is set in motion.

Employees feel appreciated and valued

39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, with 77% reporting that they would work harder if they felt better recognized. Increase employee wellness and retention within your organization with not just recognition—but an employee experience, such as personalized gifts for monumental life events such as work anniversaries, first day, or birthdays. The happier your employee is, the more engaged they will be, and the more likely they will stay with your company for the long-term while producing stronger results.

39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, with 77% reporting that they would work harder if they felt better recognized.

Increase understanding and empathy within teams

We spend countless hours with the same people each day, yet we often know little about them. Imagine the work relationships we could establish if we got to know our coworkers on a more personal level, understanding their struggles or what makes them tick? A company highlighting the birth of an employee’s child opens the floodgates of communication and for employees to engage with that person on a deeper level.

When employees are able to see their peers in a personal light, they feel more connected and are better able to empathize with others, which increases awareness and collaboration skills. All of which leads to stronger teamwork and understanding.

Alignment to the company’s core values

When recognition is tied to a company's core values, it becomes more meaningful and helps a team work towards the same goals, reinforcing positive actions.

Recognizing your employees has a trickle-down effect. If a company can set an example by acknowledging their workers with personalized, and human-centric rewards, it will foster a fantastic employee culture where people are more open, honest and caring.

If a company wants to improve engagement, lower turnover, increase productivity, boost the employee experience, and create value, employee acknowledgment should be a core attribute of an organization’s culture.

Boost your company culture with Chocolate Soup

To build great things, you need to start with great people. Those people need to be treated well and recognized for their efforts and contributions. As an organization scales, it becomes increasingly more difficult to manage an employee recognition program, especially one tied to personal milestones.

Chocolate Soup’s subscription is specifically tailored to help companies manage this program with ease. Caring about employee recognition is excellent, but you won’t reap the rewards if you’re not doing it the right way. Watch your company culture, retention, and employee wellness grow and strengthen with Chocolate Soup.

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