3 powerful things that happen when you praise your employees

Author: Dean Stallard, Managing Director, Hays Greater Bay Area

Praise is one of the most simple but powerful tools a business leader has at their disposal. A study by McKinsey found that 67% of employees saw praise or commendation as more of a motivator than financial reward. And of course, the links between verbal praise and company profit has been widely acknowledged in many reports and case studies too.

And whilst employee motivation and company profit are two priorities for me as a business leader, I’ve observed some less obvious but just as important benefits to giving your team the praise they deserve. These include the below:

1. You set a standard of success

Anyone who knows me will know that I am no stranger to giving a heartfelt “well done” in the middle of a meeting or writing a personalised congratulatory LinkedIn update mentioning one of my team members. This is because I believe in giving credit where deserved, but at the same time, in doing so, I am reinforcing the kinds of successes and behaviours that I hope to see from my entire team. Studies have found that people are motivated to push themselves when they see a peer being publicly praised. Therefore, I like to think I am setting my expectations and motivating people to surpass them.

For this to work, however, it’s important that I don’t just give my employees a pat on the back and the same generic “well done” speech every time. I try to make my congratulations specific and explain what that person or team did well. I then go on to describe how their achievements made me feel and how this added value to our business. Depending on the situation, I will also ask the individuals to say a few words about how they reached this goal. Because for me, recognising success properly must go hand-in-hand with sharing best practice and inspiring others.

2. Your people will start to believe in themselves more

When you praise an employee for a job well done, this reiterates their strength and potential in their own mind, and their level of self-belief goes up. And employees who believe in themselves are a valuable asset to any organisation. Some academic studies have found that when employees believe in themselves, they feel encouraged to think creatively and suggest innovative ideas for the business.

I have also personally found that confident employees will back themselves enough to go outside of their comfort zone and take on stretch opportunities because they have more faith in their ability to succeed. And over time, they build the self-assurance needed to put themselves forward for that promotion or pitch to that client, because they know that they stand a good chance of getting the results that they want.

3. You will retain and attract more talent

It has been proven that regularly praising your employees will increase their level of workplace happiness and engagement. This, in itself, is incredibly important. After all, happy and engaged employees will be productive and more likely to stay grow and their careers with you, rather than look elsewhere.

What’s more, happy employees are more likely to say positive things about what you are like to work for; be it to their friends, family and professional networks, or on online review sites. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful thing when it comes to attracting new talent – in fact, a study conducted by Glassdoor found that over 80% of jobseekers trusted the word of an ex-colleague or a family member when it came to reviewing potential employers and over 60% trusted online review sites. Ultimately, you want your employees to be saying that your business is a great place to work and that you give praise and recognition where deserved, in turn, helping you to build your talent pipelines for the future.

I will add that every leader should be consistent and open in the way that they praise their employees, authentic in the way that they give recognition, and inclusive of everyone’s skills and talents. This blog is not intended to be a how-to guide on giving praise, however – this is a far more complex topic, and one for another time. What’s simple and clear though, is that giving praise in the right way drives results, beyond simple revenue figures.

I always give credit where credit is due, and every day, I look forward to walking into an office filled with confident, inspired and ambitious individuals working towards their next success. And no doubt, if you make a habit of praising your employees more often – you will soon feel that same amazing feeling.

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