Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The Power Of Praise

How to build a culture of recognition in your organization that leads to happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

October 9, 2012

The book The Carrot Principle describes how managers use recognition to engage employees, retain talent and accelerate performance.

The authors cite a study of 200,000 employees that found that employee recognition not only increased efficiency, but paid off significantly in terms of an organization's bottom line.

In some cases, cThe Carrot Principleompanies that implemented employee recognition programs saw a return on equity and assets as much as three times higher than that of other companies that did not have recognition programs.

Based on similar ideas as those described in The Carrot Principle, ISSA's Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) includes employee recognition programs in its standard criteria.

Quality-driven, high-performance organizations understand the value in offering employees awards and incentives that recognize and validate a job well done.

Recognition keeps employees motivated and helps organizations reinforce their expectations and goals.

Rewards and incentives are especially effective when employers cannot offer merit raises, bonuses or promotions.

Employees want to be valued and appreciated for their work and to feel that their work is important.

Recognizing and rewarding employees decreases stress, absenteeism and turnover, increases productivity and improves quality, safety and customer service.

Building An Effective Program

To be effective, employee recognition programs must be lead by managers or organization leaders and link back to the organization''s goals and bottom line results.

They should create a sense of ownership among employees, be sincere and simple.

Rewards and incentives must be meaningful to employees and given to them in a timely manner.

  • Management commitment

It is imperative that managers and organization leaders support employee incentive programs.

They must be dedicated to committing the time and resources required to plan and execute the program.

Leaders should allow supervisors and employees to get deeply involved in planning and running the program and commit to keeping it going and improving it as needed.

  • Connect the dots

Incentives and rewards are most impactful when they are aligned with the organization's mission, goals and values.

It's important that employees see a connection between their work, the organization's strategy and how work is rewarded.

Performance measures should be created to demonstrate the connection.

If there's no link between the organization's goals and the employees' work, employees will not understand their purpose and the organization won't reap the benefits of rewarding employees for good performance against goals.

  • Employee buy-in

Any rewards or incentives must be attractive to employees and perceived as having value and meaning or the program won't be effective.

The program should be attractive enough to drive employees to want to be a part of it.

  • Simple yet sincere

Programs for rewarding employees should be thoughtful but uncomplicated.Praise Handshake

Simply using the employee's name and letting him or her know that he/she is valued is priceless.

  • Tailored to work/effort

Employee rewards and incentives must be meaningful to the people receiving them.

Some teams might appreciate a handwritten letter over company logo collateral, for example.

Employees involved in more time-intensive projects should be awarded accordingly with something more meaningful and valuable, such as time off or an award ceremony.

  • Timely

Rewards and recognition should be given as soon as possible to reinforce the connection between the employee's work and the organization's results.

These criteria are the essential building blocks of a culture of recognition, or what's described in The Carrot Principle as a "Carrot Culture," a culture of recognition.

When implemented properly, recognition programs help organizations retain and engage good employees and positively impact the organization's bottom line.

Put simply: We work harder at places where we feel recognized and valued for our unique contributions.


Dave Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS). AICS is the registrar for ISSA's Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certification program.