Gift Programs

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Notice me! Why Don’t Managers Praise Employees?

Sometimes HR goes to a lot of work to give managers the tools they need to recognize employees, only to have managers completely ignore them. Managers end up not recognizing employees and employees do not benefit from the employee recognition program that HR took so long to set up. I would like to give HR managers ways to overcome common objections they might hear from managers.

Managers don’t speak an employee recognition program language

Sometimes words of praise are not a part of a person’s vocabulary. People often have to learn employee recognition program phrases and see examples of how others are recognizing employees before they can start to recognize employees. When you are setting up an employee recognition program, give managers specific examples of how they should be recognizing employees. Once the program in implemented, make sure you have a recognition feed posted on your reward website so others can see the reasons people are being nominated for awards. This is a great way for recognition leaders to show what they are recognizing others for and give other managers an idea of what behaviors are being recognized.

Employee Recognition Program Phrases of Praise Examples:

I appreciate…
Thank you for…
You rock!
I want to recognize you for…
Great idea!
You really helped us out when…
I am so happy you are a part of our team.

Employee Recognition Program Feed Example

Managers don’t understand why employee recognition programs are important

I read an article over the weekend on titled, “Americans hate their jobs, even with perks,” that called for managers to look towards pay raises and recognizing/rewarding efforts instead of turning to perks like catered meals and free massages. The article cited a recent Gallup survey showing just 30% of employees are engaged and inspired at work. Unengaged or actively disengaged employees may be present at work, but are not excited about work. These employees could even be spreading discontent among other employees and killing productivity. (Misery loves company, right?) There is so much evidence of effective employee recognition programs impacting productivity, turnover and absenteeism. Managers not only need to understand the importance of recognition, but see the change recognition can make in their department.

They are afraid of being unfair or seen as partial

If someone is sensitive to this issue, advise them to review all the recognition given over the course of a month or two. If a manager is consistently recognizing the same people, he or she should try to learn more about what others are doing to go above and beyond to include them in the employee recognition program. Another tip is to make sure managers recognize and reward the entire team if several people contributed to one successful project.

They don’t want to thank someone for doing their job

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m not going to thank someone for doing their job.”? I have heard this in restaurants and stores, each time it is grating to my ears. Employee recognition programs are not put together to praise and recognize people for simply doing the minimum requirements of their job description. Employee recognition programs are meant to reward people who go out of their way, go beyond what is expected, stay late or come in early without being asked and volunteer to help anytime help is needed. If managers cannot find people who are doing this, then managers could try spending a little more time with employees to learn what they are doing to help each other out and benefit the workplace.

Managers don’t want recognition to lead to entitlement

Sometimes managers don’t want to recognize employees as part of an employee recognition program for fear that it will become something they expect. I blogged about this exact topic a couple of years ago, check out the article on what to do when recognition becomes entitlement. Effective recognition is consistent but sporadic so that it doesn't become an entitlement. Managers can consistently give recognition to employees for a variety of reasons, which is what keeps the recognition sporadic.

They feel they don’t have time to recognize employees

We all prioritize tasks based on what we think is most important. If the employee recognition program time falls off the to-do list each day, maybe the manager needs to re-evaluate priorities. The perception is often that other things are more important than recognizing employees. HR managers need to be able to show managers how important employee recognize is and how easily and quickly it can be done. If you haven’t already setup a system for instant points, you may want to consider doing so. Instant points are cards that managers can have with them and if they see someone doing something they want to recognize, the manager simply gives the employee the card. The employee then would log into his or her account online to add the points to their account. The card can be kept as a collectible and often cards have various designs.

Instant Point Employee Recognition Card Samples

Managers don’t know what employees are doing enough to praise them for anything

Unfortunately, this is sometimes a reason given by managers for not recognizing their workers. Managers should be involved with employees enough to know overall what projects are being worked on, if deadlines are being met and if budget is being adhered to. It is a manager’s responsibility to know enough to praise employees for a job well done. One way that our organization has helped to facilitate communication is to have a short weekly meeting where we can all share what we are working on.

They feel employees are lucky to have a job and do not need to be praised for doing well

Employment is a two-way street, it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Paychecks are compensation for work done, for showing up and getting things done. Employee recognition programs have their place in the workplace too, recognition should be given when people go above and beyond the call of duty, demonstrate desired behaviors and help to improve the workplace beyond expectations. If you don’t believe that employees need to be recognized, check out this article on why recognizing employees is critical to retention.

Managers are afraid to start recognizing employees all of a sudden, after years of work going unnoticed.

Although this is a common concern, rest assured that employees who haven’t been recognized in the past, are normally so happy to receive recognition, they may get emotional. Managers have to start somewhere and the time might as well be now.

Managers weren't included in the program setup and don’t have the same buy-in that HR has.

If you are having this problem, now is the time to start the conversation on what managers would do differently. Get their feedback and use the feedback to help update the employee recognition program. Make sure you let managers know when the program will be updated and follow up on any promises you make. Managers will accept the program more quickly if they have a say in how it is set up.

By overcoming these common objections, you can help managers to notice their hard working employees. Those who consistently go outside of their comfort zone and job title for your organization won’t stay long if their efforts go unrecognized. Newly hired employees will catch on very quickly if your company is the kind that has an effective employee recognition program or if no one will notice you no matter what you do.


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