This is my article on the importance of employee recognition/appreciation and how “one-size-fits-all” observances like Administrative Professionals Day/Week are good, but they are only starting points.
April 25, 2012 is the 60th anniversary of Administrative Professionals Day. This day of employee recognition has been sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals since 1952. It was originally called Professional Secretaries Day, but the name was changed in 2000 as a way to keep up with the changing responsibilities of administrative personnel. Aside from employee birthdays and national holidays, it is one of the most recognized workplace observances.
Administrative Professionals Day is a part of the broader Administrative Professionals Week. The concept was rooted in the work of Harry F. Klemfuss of Young and Rubicam. Klemfuss acknowledged the contributions of secretaries in the workplace, wanted to encourage more people to become secretaries and wished to set aside a time when the importance of these professionals could be celebrated.
Importance of employee recognition
Employee appreciation days such as Administrative Professionals Day are a good start for employers that want to recognize their employees for their efforts. However, “one-size-fits-all” holidays such as Administrative Professionals Day, National Nurses Week and Boss’s Day take away some of the individuality necessary for effective employee recognition. If an employer waits until a recognition holiday to express their gratitude for a job well done, they are losing out on countless chances to provide feedback and express appreciation. Employees who feel valued show better job satisfaction and productivity, even going so far to make extra effort and improve their performance to a level above expected standards.
Employee feedback, whether positive or negative, should be immediate and specific. Feedback cannot always wait until a performance evaluation or an employee recognition day. Most employers understand that it is bad for business to let negative performance issues slide. But letting positive feedback slide is also costly. Employers run an the unnecessary risk of losing good talent if employees feel they are being taken for granted. It costs more to replace good employees than it does to retain them. It does not always require a celebration or an award; a simple “thank you” can go a long way.
Even workplaces that have a recognition program in place made find it necessary to revise it from time to time. Some programs can lose their effectiveness after a while. One idea to keep a program from stagnating is a multiple-layered employee recognition program, with clearly designed goals and rewards. Having several levels of performance incentives can make a recognition program more appealing because once one reward is achieved, a bigger reward awaits as more goals are achieved.