Recognizing high achievers is crucial if you want to retain your best talent.  All of us like to be noticed. We like our good efforts to be recognized, and our hard work acknowledged. This is a basic truth about human nature, and it’s something most leaders know intuitively. If you want to retain your best employees, one thing you should always do is show them some recognition.

There are many ways to recognize employees, and the most basic is to offer them a pay raise (or perhaps a bonus). I am very much in favor of giving raises when they’re deserved. Realistically, your company can’t always afford to recognize high achievers with salary increases. Even one-time bonus checks can be too much on your budget. So what can you do when you want to bestow some well-earned credit on your employees, but just can’t afford to do so with cash?

 Recognizing High Achievers: Giving Recognition (Without Giving a Raise)

  • The first thing I would recommend is that you be transparent with your direct reports. You may feel really bad about the fact that you can’t give raises, but beating around the bush isn’t going to help things. Instead, level with them. Without betraying anything confidential, let them know about some of the broader reasons why you just don’t have the resources for pay raises this year.
  • Something else you can do is ask your employees what they really want. So maybe you can’t give them a raise right now—but is there a project they’ve always wanted to take on? A new responsibility you could give them? A chance for them to shine? Let them know that you value their good work and want to hear from them what new challenges or opportunities they’ve had in mind.
  • Also, pay attention to how your employees accept praise. Some employees really love being applauded in public, while others find it preferable to get a pat-on-the-back more privately. Be ready to acknowledge the good work of each employee in a way that’s appropriate for them.

Recognizing high achievers is critical and I understand that these things don’t necessarily mean as much as money in the bank. However they do represent some ways to honor employees whenever honor is due. And, they don’t cost you anything.

Knowing how to engage and acknowledge employees is critically important for any leader. It’s something I’d love to talk with you about in detail. Reach out to me today and let’s start that conversation! You can contact Dr. Rick at or call 888-267-6098.

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