Two little words

At the 2017 Employee Engagement Summit last month there were four key themes on the agenda: change, technology, measurement and recognition – the act of making employees feel valued.

One speaker quoted a recent Harvard Business Review article which said recognition was the ‘number one trigger to employee engagement, with non-monetary recognition far outweighing financial reward’. 

Sometimes it’s just about saying those two little words – thank you.

In our Talkback 2016 results around 80% of colleagues said their manager thanks them for doing a great job, up by 3% from the previous year so we’re making progress.

But 20% of colleagues (approx. 14,000 at any one time) don’t feel this way. That’s a lot of people not feeling the love.

How hard can it be to say “Thank you”?

Last year we introduced the Being Co-op thank you cards, and they proved to be a real hit. I’ve given and received cards and it’s a great feeling to be able to show my appreciation and know that others appreciate what I do.

Great examples of recognition

Some leaders are really great at recognising colleagues’ efforts and achievements. Derek Furnival is famous for his acts of kindness and baskets of goodies and John McNeil’s celebratory event in Glasgow to thank colleagues for going the extra mile was an inspiring example of best practice. But it’s not always about the money or the gifts, and our recently gathered insight showed us that a ‘Thank you’ won hands down above every other form of recognition.

Thank you for Being Co-op

So, we’re going to build on the great things already happening, tell these stories more widely and build a culture in which all colleagues feel appreciated, every day.

  • With Thank you for Being Co-op we’re taking a uniquely Co-op approach, aligning how we recognise each other with our Ways of Being Co-op and encouraging colleague to colleague recognition.
  • With Everyday Thank You we’ll continue to use cards, and other kit – making them available to everyone.
  • And with Uniquely Co-op – colleagues will be able to nominate those who go ‘above & beyond’ – and those individuals or teams will receive a unique and special experience, that only we can offer.

We have a vital role to play in making sure this works, creating the right environment where those two little words really do go a long way.

My ten top tips

  1. Don’t delay:  recognising colleagues in the moment can have more impact than saving it up for a formal chat
  2. Be specific:  explain why you’re recognising a colleague and how it contributes to your teams’ objectives – link it to our Ways of Being and purpose
  3. Celebrate appropriately: everyone is different. Understand how the colleague would like to celebrate. Would public praise or a private chat be more appreciated?
  4. Say it like you mean it:  stating the obvious but being authentic in your thanks will have more impact
  5. The whole team: collective recognition can strengthen team bonds. Was it a combined effort?
  6. The unsung heroes: get all the facts and recognise everyone who had an impact
  7. Get others involved:  share great stories ad involve other leaders in recognising your team
  8. Focus on the ‘how’: recognise behaviours as well as the things colleagues have delivered
  9. Set out clear expectations:  share what ‘good’ look like so colleagues know what kind of behaviour they’re aiming for
  10. Let senior colleagues know: where appropriate recognise a colleague in front of senior colleagues (or cc them into an email)  – it’s great to share the credit

It doesn’t cost a penny!

Colleagues unanimously told us they’d like to be thanked more so I’m wondering what’s holding us back? 

Go on. Give it a go.

Vicky Matthews

Colleague Engagement Business Partner