The Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs for Law Firms

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It is important to recognize excellent work that employees do in order to maintain a motivated and engaged workforce within the legal industry. For employees to feel valued on the job, it’s essential that they see the difference that their projects are making – and employee recognition is one way of doing this. Many firms employ people consulting services to ensure that employees feel valued. There are many ways to recognize employees in the legal industry, which we will take a look at now. First, we will look at some of the best ways to recognize employees and then move into why employee recognition programs are effective.

So, if a legal firm wants to boost morale and engagement in the workforce, what types of recognition will do that for employees?

1 – Make Recognition Timely

When employees are forced to wait for a yearly awards ceremony or even quarterly reviews for feedback on their performance, their interest in receiving that feedback can be significantly diminished. It is immeasurably more effective for a firm or law office to zone in on the kind of results they are looking for, communicate those benchmarks clearly to employees, and then recognize high performers immediately – or at least weekly. This will not only encourage the top performers to maintain the quality of their work but inspire others to strive also to be recognized.

2 – Make Recognition In Line With Values of Firm

Employees need to know the work they are doing is not only in pursuit of the bottom line, or cold hard cash. They want to feel they are contributing to a higher mission and doing good work. Therefore, by making sure that recognition for employee performance is visibly aligned with the organizational values of the company, motivation, and commitment to excellence, not to mention loyalty, will remain at high levels.

3 – Make Rewards Relevant to Individual Employees

Every human being is an individual, therefore obviously, so is every employee. What would be meaningful to one person would be meaningless to another, and vice versa. Therefore, it is incumbent upon managers to get to know each of their employees and find out what types of rewards would be individually meaningful to them. For example, a particular employee might be introverted and would be embarrassed if they were publicly recognized. For that person, a congratulatory email could potentially be more appropriate. Another person might feel slighted by an email because public praise means a lot to them. Individual preferences are important in order to make the rewards meaningful, and therefore something that employees will strive for.

4 – Make Sure That All Employees Have a Chance to Be Recognized

The most effective recognition programs are inclusive of all employees, at every level of the firm, in every type of role. If the organization only recognizes the same employees time after time, this can lead to hurt feelings and petty competitiveness, reducing employee engagement – which is the opposite of the intended result. It is also essential to recognize that there are other ways of contributing to the law firm aside from only financial and broaden the parameters for recognition.

5 – Make Sure Recognition Is Public

If employee recognition stays only between manager and worker, then significant potential benefits of that recognition are lost. Rather than keeping the interaction private, limited to only the department or team the employee belongs to, communicate the praise and/or award across the entire organization. In this way, the employee will know that it is more meaningful, and they will also receive positive feedback from other employees on their level, as opposed to only upper management. This also allows other employees to aspire to receive the same type of recognition for themselves.

So, how are the concepts of employee recognition and employee engagement related?

1 – Employees Derive Meaning and Purpose From Their Work When It Is Recognized

Employee recognition drives employee engagement for a number of reasons. One of the most important is that it gives employees a feeling that their work serves a higher ideal. People want to know that the labor they do as part of the workforce contributes to the greater good and makes peoples’ lives better – whether those are the lives of their customers or their colleagues. When a worker feels that they are striving for a higher purpose, their motivation and work ethic – not to mention their productivity – will skyrocket.

2 – Being Recognized Lifts Workers’ Self-Esteem

When people work only to avoid criticism rather than to achieve recognition or reach goals, there is no motivation to go beyond the bare minimum required to stay out of “trouble.” This can make employees feel bad about themselves and their performance. If this becomes widespread, it can affect firm’s morale across the entire organization. However, when employees strive for praise and recognition, their productivity and internal perceived value increase exponentially, as does their engagement.

3 – Workers Have an Inherent Desire to Feel Valued

Human beings have an innate desire to feel recognized for the value that they bring to an organization, whether that is social, familial, or – as is relevant here – corporate. When workers are made to feel that they are an integral part of a team that is striving for a goal, and when they, in turn, receive recognition for achieving that goal, they will feel that the organization as a whole values their contribution. Not only that, they will feel that the company values them as a human being, and their morale will soar. This will increase their motivation and passion for the work that they do, as well as their emotional investment in and loyalty to the law firm as a whole.

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