IMAGINE the surprise of almost 500 Operations & Technology employees at Citi Singapore one morning when they were greeted with breakfast, personally made by their senior managers.

Or how about the staff at Secured Finance who were not only served homemade food by their managers, but were also offered shoulder massages and shoe polishing services?

These gestures were just some of the many surprise “thank you” activities that were specially created by managers for their staff on Citi Appreciation Day. The event is one of several initiatives that aims to embed a culture of appreciation and recognition within Citi Singapore.

Mr Jonathan Larsen, Head of Consumer Banking and Global Cards for Citi Asia Pacific, and Singapore’s country head and Citi country officer says: “Creating job satisfaction goes beyond compensation and opportunities for career development, mobility and work-life balance.

“We believe that recognising our people for effort and performance is key to engaging and motivating them. In fact, we take it a step further by empowering our people at every level to appreciate and recognise excellence in each other.”

Mr Larsen led the string of surprises on Citi Appreciation Day, with a personal note to staff, thanking them for their dedication.

“It is only through your passion and hard work that we continue to achieve our successes together,” he said.

Few companies can argue that their employees are their biggest assets to the organisation. This is especially true in tough economic times when resources are scarce, and employees remain loyal and hardworking to the company.

Now that the economy is slowly recovering, it is only appropriate that they are thanked for their diligence and support to the company.

Though many view staff recognition as a nice but frivolous undertaking resulting in no monetary return, keeping employees happy should be a priority for all organisations. Employees are motivated by many different things, but feeling appreciated ranks higher on the list than many managers realise.

Staff recognition can be used as a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for the business. When one recognises employees effectively, one reinforces the actions and behaviours that are desired to be repeated. In addition, staff morale and spirits are heightened, allowing for increased productivity and motivation.

Taking small steps

For managers who do not feel comfortable in expressing recognition of their employees’ efforts, starting small is a good first step. The more a manager practises the art of appreciation and recognition, the easier it will become and the resulting positive effects will create a snowball effect.

In truth, one does not need to splurge on gifts when it comes to staff appreciation events and activities. Some of the best forms of recognition such as verbal or written praise are simple, easy and require little time to undertake, yet are able to deliver great impact.

However, as a company’s profits and performance progressively improve, so should the rewards. Rewards and recognition can even be implemented as a more formal programme within an organisation. At Citi Singapore, the Appreciation and Recognition of Citibankers (ARC) awards is an initiative based on a pyramid framework. The higher the tier of the pyramid an employee is placed on, the greater the quality of his contribution and the more exclusive the rewards given.

Furthermore, in recognising the role that families play in supporting an employee’s career, companies can offer rewards that can be shared with loved ones. These include diving courses, weekend hotel getaways, fine dining experiences at Singapore’s best restaurants, spa treats and even enrichment programmes for kids.

To have better employee relations and enduring results, the key is to have a sound procedure of staff recognition in place that is equally powerful for both the organisation and the employees.