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Thanking your staff is good business.

There’s a good reason 86 percent of companies currently have a recognition program or plan to implement one — they can have a big payoff.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM®), more than half of companies surveyed said their program resulted in higher productivity, engagement and employee retention. What’s more, 52 percent of companies said their program helped fuel customer retention and 58 percent said it helped boost their profit margin.

It’s good business that doesn’t need a big budget to be effective. The study found that, in lieu of big bonuses, a growing number of organizations center recognition programs on incentives like positive co-worker feedback. Salary and bonuses actually ranked third.

Consider thanking your staff with one (or more) of these 6 rewards to establish or add to your recognition program:

US-Employee-Recognition

    1. More time off: Providing additional vacation days doesn’t directly cost your company anything — and may help prevent absenteeism. Two-thirds of employees who call in at the last minute aren’t missing work because they’re sick, according to the 17th annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. Instead, 26 percent take time off due to stress or because they feel entitled to.
       
    2. Flex schedules and work from home: Most employees would greatly appreciate having the flexibility to come into work a bit late, leave a little early to take kids to appointments, or take care of other personal matters. They would also enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home occasionally. Sciencedaily.com, reporting on the results of a 2014 study by the University of Illinois, found that telecommuters were slightly more productive than their counterparts in the office, but the real win was that they were inspired to become better corporate citizens, as a form of payback to the company.
    1. Time and resources for corporate or personal philanthropic interests: Encouraging good corporate citizenship through community involvement is still another way that companies can satisfy their employees and customers. A May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 82 percent of U.S. consumers — particularly mothers and millennials — consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding what services or products to buy. Smaller companies, who may not have the resources to support a CSR program, can offer employees some time off to pursue their own charitable interests. Employees will appreciate the support and time away from their day-to-day obligations, while companies expand their profile and network in the local community.
       
    2. Employee Training: According to Boston.com, a recent survey conducted by recruiting firm Execu/Search, found that 65 percent of employers will put a greater emphasis on training in 2015, recognizing that this is essential to retaining their employees (now that there is more job mobility). The Small Business Association offers low-budget ways to achieve this, such as hosting brown bag “lunch and learns” and starting a mentorship program.
       
    3. A simple thank-you: Seventy-one percent of companies said appreciation expressed by a direct supervisor had the most positive effect on employee engagement at their organization, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. By contrast, 41 percent said the opportunity to advance was a major job satisfaction factor.
       
    4. Fulfilling projects: When an employee goes above and beyond, the first step is to let them know. You can then show your appreciation by giving them greater autonomy and more interesting assignments. Promote good work with more good work — and employees will feel energized and ready to tackle tasks that come their way.

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