Top 3 ways to show employee recognition across a diverse workforce

By Kimberly Abel

Like so much that happens between management and staff – common sense is the key when it comes to a creating and implementing a successful employee recognition programs for a diverse workforce.  Here’s what we know. The science of human behavior tells us that people are both rational and emotional.  The emotional side of our brain is wired to respond to appreciation.  The emotional side of our brain is what connects us to people, teams and organizations.  So whether you have a wide mix of generations, educational backgrounds, or a workforce that includes physically challenged or talented autistic workers – everyone will appreciate a thank you and reward – but only when it is expressed with meaning and common sense. Below are a few tips to insure your program is a success:

1. Know your people and their achievements.  Never utter “thanks for a job well done” unless you know the names of all individuals and are able to cite each accomplishment whether as a walk-around one-on-one, group setting, or written. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or disability — when the boss shows appreciation – that will resonate across all diversity lines.

2.  Make sure the reward is a fit for their lifestyle.  Giving an expensive dinner coupon might be great for an established executive but burdensome for a worker who would incur babysitter costs, a new suit or even a full tank of gas to get there.  Millennial workers may be thrilled with the latest gadget but an older worker, less familiar with technology, might prefer 2 hours of paid leave instead. Remember, rewards are from you but for them!

3.  Combine your thanks with their feedback.  When you thank employees for their hard work, initiative and keeping up with demands – also find out what they think of the current operations and processes.  You may be surprised how much employees can offer when it comes to improvements since they are the ones actually doing the day to day work.  Authentic expressions of gratitude combined with genuine respect for the ideas of each employee is key for moving forward as a unified team.

About the Author

Kimberly Abel is the Vice President, Employee Solutions for Maritz Motivation Solutions, a world leader in designing and managing motivation and loyalty programs for major corporations.  Abel is responsible for developing and communicating the company’s thought leadership and point of view on workforce performance and employee recognition solutions. She can be reached at

Leave a Reply