The volunteer community is a membership organization’s heart and soul. Their contribution is priceless and the organization couldn’t function without them. Not only do they make things happen behind the scenes, but they also express the values of the organization in their activities.  Characteristics such as leadership, personal growth, achievement, community, vision, honor, and respect are evident in their involvement

While those leaders who place a high value on contribution will give regardless of recognition, without acknowledgement, their energy, interest, and enthusiasm may wane over time.  A simple act of gratitude adds fuel to their internal drivers and affirms them as individuals and contributors, encouraging them both personally and professionally.  

Why is it so difficult to keep recognition in the forefront when organizations often depend on it?  A couple of reasons come to mind.  First, because those who volunteer are motivated by personal satisfaction and a commitment to the organization and aren’t usually seeking acknowledgement. Second, because in an organization like CMC-Global Institute the leadership are also volunteers who are contributing their time and expertise in addition to full time work.

How can we create and reinforce a culture of recognition?  Josh Bersin researched the topic of employee recognition  and shared these best practices that apply in both workplace and non-profit scenarios.  Implement peer to peer recognition – not top down.

  • Make recognition easy and frequent. 
  • In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, two of the most valuable psychological needs we have as human beings are the need to be appreciated and the need to “belong.” These needs are met through peer-to-peer thanks and recognition. 
  • The study revealed that “Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates!”

What would a culture of recognition look like in your company? In any organization to which you belong?   It starts with individuals, teams and leaders noticing, inquiring, and being interested in the actions of others, and recognizing their achievements. A culture of recognition starts with an attitude of gratitude.

An attitude of gratitude has ripple effects far beyond the impact on a company, a volunteer organization or the individuals themselves. It can resonate within the culture and help to shape it into the future. Start today. 

(Adapted from the original version that appeared in C2M Connect, January 2015 by Kathie Nelson and Pamela Campagna)