The Importance of Recognizing Employee Value
In the world of work, what is “adding value”? And, as an HR or compensation practitioner, why should I care? How does recognizing employee value help me do my job better?
Adding value is about out-performing normal expectations through an exceptional attitude or work product, outside the scope of one’s regular assignments. It is unanticipated and goes beyond what is typically considered in evaluating employee performance. Some describe it as giving 110% effort.
Adding value can mean the simplest of things, such as determination when a project isn’t moving forward. Some ask, “Isn’t adding value just doing one’s job?” The answer is “no,” unless, of course, their job is public relations! Adding value is a special quality that ought to be identified and rewarded regularly.
Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Examples of Employee Value in the Workplace
In the most traditional sense, an employee who adds value is someone who does the following:
- makes their workplace better by taking initiative
- uses good judgment to improve personal productivity on the job
- saves company money
- increases revenues or wins repeat business
But, in a less traditional sense, the employee who offers suggestions that solve tricky problems, brings optimism and creates more positive attitudes in the workplace, particularly when that is not the norm, is also adding value.
Make a Practice of Recognizing Added Value in Your World
You don’t have to limit identifying when and how you identify how someone adds value. You can get in the habit at home or in your everyday life. Recognizing value allows you to see the better side of life and to differentiate between those that should be recognized for their contributions and those that should not. This distinction is much easier to see when you actually benefit from someone’s extra effort and you take that knowledge into the workplace.
In my personal life, I look for and recognize things that add value to my experience at the restaurant, hardware store and even the ball game. It is the driver that I let in traffic that waves ‘thank you’ or the waiter that brought me out a taste of that funky-sounding soup du jour. This gives me the benefit of savoring some courtesy and civility in an often too hectic, too loud and information-overloaded world.
In my work life, I make an effort to recognize added value to my experience from a colleague, vendor representative and internal service staff. Some examples are:
- the help desk person that explains the problem and fix rather than barking instructions
- the team member that volunteers to compile data (or perform another tedious task)
- even the union representative that steps back to identifying our interests when discussions become too positional
What is in it for me? I get collegiality, collaboration and support in an often too competitive, antagonistic and fast-paced work environment.
Recognize and Reward Employees Who Add Value
What you want is an organization filled with people who add value everyday. But, what is the motivation for employees to act this way? Are you making it worth their while to go above and beyond their regular duties?
Maybe the employee should expect no more for their efforts than a regular paycheck and a less-hassled and stressed worklife, as well as the intrinsic rewards that productivity reaps – happiness, better health, satisfaction and so forth. Plus, if the employee is a personal service person, they will undoubtedly get bigger gratuities and referrals. In other cases, a good word to a manager who values customer feedback may result in kudos and bonuses.
But, why not make it worth every employee’s while to go above and beyond? That brings us back to what identifying how an employee adds value does for you as an HR professional. Recognizing that others add value to the workplace gives you a tool in your arsenal so that you encourage employees to add even more value to your company.
By recognizing how and when employees add value, you learn useful ways to influence your company’s growth, such as:
- information about what makes a difference and is needed at your organization
- knowledge that is valuable in coaching and employee training
- ways to differentiate between exemplary employees and ones that need training
- a basis for creating or spinning recognition and employee reward programs
- a “heads up” and an ability to maybe intervene in grievances or discipline
Plus, it improves your own worklife to look for and recognize the good rather than always dealing with the challenges presented to the HR professional.
So, I suggest that you make a practice of recognizing employee value everyday. And, may you always be the recipient of added value and pay it forward to those in your life!
Judi Jones, SPHR
HR Free Agent
Guest blogger bio: Judi Jones, SPHR, has work for 25 years in compensation, process improvement and organizational design and development, using a holistic approach to workplace challenges and systems. Presently, Ms. Jones is a free agent consulting with government and non-profit organizations. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics.
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