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Why Employees Stay: The impact of strong leadership & recognition programs

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You've probably heard that Roosevelt quote a thousand times, but we thought we'd kick off a blog on the importance of leadership support using a quote from one of the nation's great leaders.

You've probably also heard a thousand times the quip that employees don't leave companies, they leave managers. While not quite as profound as the statement by the nation's First Teddy, there’s probably equal truth in this quote.

So, if we believe both points of view, does that mean people will stay with you longer because they have a good leader that they respect? We think so, and there’s a pile of research that tells us we're probably right.

We believe in the importance of getting your leaders and managers involved with your recognition programs, so they connect with their performers and keep them engaged longer.

According to a recent study by the IRF, top performing companies have strong executive buy-in for non-cash Rewards and Recognition. The vast majority of top performing companies (93%) reported their executives are strong supporters of non-cash rewards and recognition as a competitive advantage.

We thought that was enough reason to share a few tips to help ensure management is connected to their teams and engaged in their development.

  • Engagement is driven from the top. T-Mobile's John Legere is a raving employee advocate and supporter of recognition programs throughout the company. And the results validate the effort: T-Mobile is now one of Fortune's Best Places to Work, and employee turnover at call centers has reduced to 23% at T-Mobile compared to an industry norm of 43%.
  • Mid-managers create the biggest change. Bryan Tyler, the new CEO at McKesson, shared wise words on LinkedIn this summer in support of leadership involvement in recognition at McKesson. He stated, "Leaders need to make sure they take time to celebrate wins and let employees know that they see, value and appreciate their hard work."
  • People don't care what you know until they know that you care. You can be a great tactical manager, knowing your craft like no other. But unless you can connect with your team members, mentor them along, and show them they matter, you're going to be a one-man (or woman) show. Start with the technology and rewards that serve as great elements of a strong recognition program, and then go the extra mile to support your managers with tools like best practice guides, how-to guides, FAQs and tutorials that arm them to become captains of caring.
  • Celebrate values as much as you celebrate growth. We've blogged it a hundred times – find the emotional connection that drives employee enthusiasm in your organization and celebrate the heck out of it. Encourage the behavior, recognize it when you see it, and put reward funding behind it.
  • Require sustained practice. Engagement is not a day, or a gift, or an event, it's a way of life. If a manager decides to bring in pizza because engagement scores are low, or sales objectives are high, you can count on money wasted. But if your management commits to a culture of engagement, you'll see the results in performance, retention and earnings per share.

We believe that senior management support for our recognition and incentive initiatives is key to success. We see a rise in the interest level of management from mid-level supervisors to the c-suite, and some of that interest could be because WorldatWork surveys tell us more managers see recognition programs as an investment than they did 5 years ago.

Great leaders make great companies, and leaders who support and promote their employees create raving brand advocates of their people.  Engagement is not a day, it's a way of life.

Workplace Engagement
Employee Recognition
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