Why do almost 33% of companies struggle to hold on to their top talent? In a word, lack of recognition is a major reason why job-hopping has reached epic proportions. A Harvard Business Review study found that 72% of people rank cultural recognition for high performers as having a significant impact on engagement at work.

Gift cards, fruit baskets, a holiday bonus, and ‘Thank You!’ post-its left on a high performing team member’s workspace are all nice, but not enough. To drive home the point that recognizing greatness isn’t just a passing hobby but a full-time obsession, your HR team needs to get a bit more personal. 

1. Promote from within instead of hiring new messiahs
There’s no one on the job market who’s better qualified to propel your company from strength to strength than your top performers. These are the people who’ve internalized your company’s mission, vision, and values, and have turned these ideals into action. On the flip side, a company that’s too quick to hire externally may be sending the wrong message to its best and brightest: we don’t see you as upper management material. Avoid sending that message by making internal and upward moves more accessible.

2. Team leads should take their superstars off campus for a pow-wow
A lot of cultural recognition programs are too generic to really make a strong impression on your company’s strongest performers. An effective way for your team leads to communicate their appreciation is to break up the punch-in, punch-out office routine by taking a deserving team member out for a cup of coffee or meal. People leaders can make these outings even more effective by bringing up the specific decisions, actions, and innovations that have generated so much positive buzz.

3. Recognize accomplishments, not just results
People today believe that their work should be meaningful, not just a way to pay the bills. This is especially true for your younger team members, 90% of whom think that it’s “somewhat important” or “very important” that their work has a positive impact on the world. This is the reason your company should recognize team members who are living their passion to make the world a better place. The person who pulled extra hours to make sure that a project was completed on time should absolutely be recognized. But how about a Shoutout or Kudos for the team member who introduced colleagues to a new book series or planned a team night out? 

4. Go viral with your cultural recognition programs
In this 24/7, hyperconnected world of instant communication, it’s important to get the word out about your prized people’s awesomeness by using your company’s social media forums. These tweets, Facebook messages, and LinkedIn posts should include details about a spotlighted team member’s recent accomplishments. For an even more personal touch, you may also want to include interesting facts about your rising organizational star, something that colleagues may not know about the person they sit next to and work with every day. 

Build a culture of recognition, or watch your irreplaceables leave…

It’s unfortunate that many companies continue to downplay the importance of recognizing outstanding effort and initiative. A massive amount of research shows that job-hopping, especially among Millennials, is at an all-time high. One major cause of this is something we like to call Recognition Deficiency Syndrome: 79% of people who quit their jobs claim lack of appreciation as a major reason for leaving. 

Building a culture of recognition is a great way to stem an exodus of your exceptional employees. Not only will specific, timely, fun ways to say ‘Thank You!’ make your superstars feel appreciated, they’ll also inspire colleagues to take their game to the next level. 

An HR team that develops and implements the right kind of culture of recognition will have taken one huge leap toward curing rampant career hopping at their organization. If you build it, they will stay…and tell their friends about your company.


from Stephanie Stevens

Stephanie is Content Marketer at Hibob. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Crisis Management, and enjoys abstract painting and watching horror films in her spare time. She believes that people can connect with themselves, their peers, and the world around them through creative writing, helping them foster a deeper sense of self and their life goals in the process.