Many of us will celebrate Labor Day today with a picnic or partaking in retail's many sales. The real significance of Labor Day is to recognize employees and their contributions for the year.
The holiday started in 1882 when Matthew Maguire, a machinist in Patterson, N.J., proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Now in its 133rd year, the federal holiday can serve as a healthy reminder for companies to recognize their employees.
However, according to a Gallup pool earlier this year on the state of the American Workplace, many companies fail to invest in initiatives that ensure a high level of employee engagement. According to the study, only one-third of American employees are engaged in their work. Seventy percent aren't reaching their full potential--a problem that affects the performance of individual companies.
Here are five reminders for how to recognize employees and keep them motivated and happy.
1. Recognize Your Employees Publicly: Take the time to recognize your key players in an email, thank-you note, or in a meeting this week. Implement an "Employee of the Month" or even an "Employee of the Year" program.
2. Empower peers to celebrate each other's work: Allow employees to nominate peers on a monthly basis who have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction and bring value to the company. Set up a virtual awards system and turn it into a gamification technique to incite positive employee behaviors with customers.
3. Invest in continuous training: Continuous training goes a long way and benefits not just the employee, but also the company. It helps employees expand their knowledge and abilities and is an important driver of engagement. Failure to provide this may leave employees feeling uncertain about their potential to grow within the company.
4. Provide healthy incentives: Some companies are approaching employee retention by putting an emphasis on improving health and well being. Whole Foods Market, for example, offers additional store discounts beyond the standard 20 percent that all team members receive based on each team member's degree of wellness, offers. The extra discount is based on meeting certain biometric criteria for cholesterol levels, body mass index, height-to-waist ratio, and blood pressure, along with being nicotine free. There are four additional levels of discounts based on the team member's score, from 22 percent to 30 percent.
5. Tie promotions to customer metrics: Align career advancement opportunities to customer-focused metrics like customer satisfaction. For example, managers can be eligible for promotions when they've achieved specific customer satisfaction objectives.
Whatever your employee engagement strategies include, it's important to remember that high levels of employee engagement in an organization are linked to superior business performance. What's your strategy for getting there?