In an increasingly competitive job market, employers are constantly looking for ways to retain their employees. One challenging, but likely effective, way for them to do so: improve the ways they’re recognizing their employees.


“I’ve been involved in a multitude of employee surveys, and the one issue that recurred in literally every single one of them was employee recognition,” writes Victor Lipman for “Employees never got enough of it – invariably it was a pain point.”


Proper recognition of employees’ hard work is more important than ever, writes Eric Mosley for the Huffington Post. “More companies are implementing (recognition programs) as the cornerstone of their strategies to build a best place to work,” Mosley writes, adding that such programs improve the workplace as a whole. “This ideal culture puts people first and is predicated on strong relationships, a commitment to employee happiness, and a strong emphasis on employee development.”


The research supporting such programs is pretty clear. Mosley, reporting on a recent Gartner survey, reports HR professionals have found such programs make their employees both happier and more engaged at work. “According to the survey, 68 percent of HR professionals with a values-based recognition program saw a positive impact on employee retention,” Mosley writes.


And companies’ programs don’t necessarily have to be traditional, Matt Stratz writes for You can celebrate longevity milestones with special swag – Groupon gives employees celebrating their one-year anniversary a highly recognizable jacket and adds patches for subsequent years. Or, they might pass around a trophy (or other object) weekly to celebrate jobs well done.


Another idea: celebrate employee risk-taking, even if it’s not necessarily successful, Stratz writes. “Recognizing employees for their risk-taking capabilities and creative ideas is just as important, if not more so, to individual and company-wide success,” he writes. “It encourages employees to continue thinking outside of the box and serves as a learning experience for the organization as a whole.”


Effective recognition doesn’t have to be top-down, either. Employees who recognize their coworkers are more likely to be engaged and feel appreciated, Lipman writes. It also improves employee relationships. “When someone feels valued, they’re more likely to rate their colleague with a higher score,” Lipman writes, “and 70 percent of employees felt their peers were the most important factor in creating an engaging environment.”