Whether it’s through bonus compensation, personal emails or merit increases, employees want to be recognized for a job well done. According to Business News Daily, employee recognition is one of the most effective ways to keep employees happy and to make sure they stick around to continue to put out solid work. A survey done by Office Team and reported in Business News Daily reported than almost half of the workforce would be more than dissatisfied with their employment situation and would eventually leave their position if they felt unappreciated. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Labor study, feeling unappreciated is the top reason people leave their jobs. Job appreciation is becoming even more important in offices as research also found that workers younger than 35 were most likely to abandon jobs in which they felt under-appreciated. With this in mind, employers are seeking out new and more effective ways to reward employees and keep the good ones around. How to recognize an employee Recognition should be about more than just a pat on the back – it needs to be meaningful and sincere, and in many cases, should come with a reward such as bonus compensation.One way to achieve this is by personalizing the employee recognition. A boilerplate email sent to each individual who achieves something above and beyond the call of duty isn’t enough. Meanwhile, some people will respond positively to verbal praise, but nearly everyone would prefer gifts or tangible rewards such as merit increases customized to their preferences. Unsure of what your employee would like from you? Ask. This first shows your employee that you care about what they want, and encourages productivity since they know recognition may be on the way. Ask question such as what they like to be called (nicknames or abbreviations are more common than you might think), or what form of recognition makes them feel the best. Some people like gift cards to their favorite bookstore, while others will prefer a gift card to a coffee shop, or a more direct monetary reward. Keep in mind that, although congratulatory emails will certainly be appreciated, almost 40 percent of employees prefer palpable rewards. Successful employers utilize a rewards system for many reasons. According to Sales Force, 74 percent of companies use recognition programs such as sales performance management to create a positive work environment, while 71 percent responded that they utilize programs to elicit high performances from their employees. Additional reasons listed to reward employees were to create a culture of recognition and to increase morale, ranked at 69 and 66 percent, respectively. What not to do When offering recognition, be sure to avoid pitfalls which can botch the process. One of the biggest mistakes an employer can make is offering a token gesture. Sending an employee an email to congratulate them on being the top salesperson of the year and increasing company revenue is not enough, and could make an employee feel that their achievement is being invalidated or brushed off as insignificant. Avoid being too vague about the employee’s accomplishment. Messages of congratulations should be individualized, citing specific details of the achievement and the ways in which those achievements have benefited the company at large. Also be sure to reward contributors – neglecting to recognize collaborators can create resentment between employees and especially toward supervisors. An office in which employees feel their work is not being noticed unless they take the limelight can create negative competition or a lack of interest in pursuing projects as assistants or part-time contributors. In order to most effectively recognize their employees, many business owners have begun turning to incentive software or sales analytics to keep a schedule of when and how to reward employees best.