Good people always find a better job so if you want to keep your talent in today’s market you need to let them know they are key.
This doesn’t mean a big ceremony or an expensive gift. The recognition is the key. In my former corporate life, one of the brilliant engineers worked for us ten years and was due his service recognition The Human Resources department just changed the program to make it more meaningful. There was now a certificate and a catalogue so employees could order what they wanted. Each supervisor attended training to learn about the new policy and program worked.
“Hey there, Congratulations on 10 years! What did you choose from the catalogue, “ I said when I saw this engineer in the hallway?
He said, “Oh, I haven’t done it—I found the catalogue and memo on my desk. Looks interesting.”
By now I was puzzled. What had we done wrong? We really upped the value of the awards and did the training. What we had not done was convey the importance of the recognition. It was the moment of stardom of individual celebration of ten years. What was meaningful was the recognition. I got too caught up in the program and the task and forgot to emphasis the reason for the program. This manager left the information on the desk with no celebration opportunity. It was an important as a post it on the desk. There was no “fifteen minutes of fame.” The opportunity to reflect on the contributions by the engineer over the 10 years was lost. The highlighted career of a successful employee, especially in front of colleagues and new engineering graduates was lost, and so was the chance to re-spark the feeling that engineer had ten years earlier.
I had a bit of a routine when I let my desk each night. I cleaned off the top and then took out some note cards. I would not leave until I wrote five cards to five employees thanking them or recognizing them for something. Sometimes it was about the extra work that day due to several different customer groups or a Board meeting. Sometimes, I sent the note card to their home especially if it was congratulating them for a grade they received for a class they were taking through tuition assistance. Blood drives gave ne a list for several days.
Twelve years after I wrote one note card, an employee pulled me over to his toolbox to show me that he saved it. If he was having a bad day, he read it. I still feel the lump in my throat from that moment. He gave me a moment to cherish and remind me of the true purpose of HR. Engagement survey results can’t do what kindness can do.
So, take a moment and don’t assume that people know you care. It is those moments that make us a different person and our organization an employer of choice.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Rexroad is a nationally recognized speaker and author and serves as an HR consultant and coach for those people and organizations who are ready to succeed to even greater levels. She is the Official HR Guide for self Learn more at or