A key “activator” of employee engagement is employee recognition. As an employer, it is crucial to make your employees feel appreciated, and that is a great way to increase their loyalty to your brand.

In the December 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, an article entitled The Ordinary Heroes of the Taj links the Taj’s employee service training to their heroic performance during more than one terrorist incident. Although linking service and rewards practices to performance during crisis seems a bit specious, the article does give a glimpse of just how important making employees feel appreciated is.

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces operates 93 luxury hotels across India and 16 other hotels in other parts of the world. Even with so many locations, and over 13,000 employees, the Taj continues to deliver unprecedented levels of service to its guests. From the article, we can find several keys to the success of the Taj employee recognition system.

For example, expressions of gratitude must come from immediate supervisors, who are central in determining how employees feel about the company. This is best expressed in the old maxim that people join companies but leave managers. The key to any employee recognition program is in the hands of front line managers.

Also, the timing of recognition is usually more important than the reward itself. Too many managers hold back on “thank you’ s” until later; the worst hold back praise and feedback until an annual review. A prompt, verbal thank you at the time of the exceptional work is received better than a financial thank you six months later.

One of Stark Service Solutions clients is the Hard Rock Tampa Hotel and Casino, which was recently featured in Hotel Executive on the subject of Sustaining Service Culture That Drives Radical Change. This AAA Four-Diamond award winning property has over 3,400 employees and 400 managers, its casino is one of the most successful casinos in the country.

business-woman-with-award_hfguieahs-medManagement used Stark Service Solution’s cloud based app to overhaul their employee training and appreciation programs. As a result, over 20,000 Team Member Recognitions have been awarded. Management at the Hard Rock points to this for increasing customer satisfaction and employee morale.

The Hard Rock Tampa has created a special recognition program that links customer satisfaction to employee rewards. They have a system resulting in success – do you? Also, their employees accumulate awards throughout the year based on three areas of input: compliments from guests, compliments from colleagues, and their own suggestions. In this manner, employee recognition isn’t solely based on the manager, but also appreciation from the employee’s peers.

Recently, an employee at the Hard Rock Tampa gave us feedback that one employee was overcome with emotion, noting that she had no idea her management recognized her until she saw it within our Touch System.

Perhaps most compelling in the example cited at Taj, at the end of each day, the committee at Taj reviews all the nominations and suggestions. How often do your leaders think about appreciation? How often do you thank your direct reports, your peers or even your boss?

A challenge many face, especially larger organizations, is when Employee Recognition is a manual process. If the process is not efficient, it’s not effective. The manual process makes you miss out on the benefits of real-time data. They have the policy but they don’t have the culture because of high-turnover. Software overcomes that challenge. Working with a technology solution from Stark makes your Employee Recognition process more efficient, and makes accommodates for the busy manager.

Your brand’s success is earned daily by extraordinary employees, and the extraordinary leaders who are mindful of appreciation and service daily.

Training your management team to incorporate employee recognition programs is an important part of your overall management strategy. However, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Sustaining a culture is impossible with antiquated manual systems. Stark Service Solutions can help you implement an employee recognition program quickly and efficiently, and train your staff to recognize their team members in a timely fashion and provide the infrastructure for lasting results with their Recognition App. For more information, contact us for complementary assessment.