Employee recognition is a sure way to encourage a team environment, but it won’t happen overnight. You can speed up the process by recognizing team members for their continued efforts. There are so many ways to reward employees for consistently good behavior — and it’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep them striving for your operation’s goals.

You want to reinforce positive team behaviors and encourage the same in other members of the team. So instead of ranking the employee, rate their performance against established criteria. That gives every team member an opportunity to become a top performer. And when their performance deems it — say the employee consistently does his or her job well and helps out others on the team — recognize that employee by letting him or her know you appreciate their continued efforts toward your operation’s goals.

Tips for improving employee recognition:

Be timely and specific. For employee recognition to be effective, recognition needs to happen fast. If you wait weeks or months to say “well done,” you won’t have motivated the employee to repeat the behavior. Keep a stash of movie passes or gift cards to hand out on the floor when you catch an employee “doing his part” for the team. It’s inexpensive, instantaneous and motivational.

Match the reward to the achievement. If an employee team solves a major business problem that saves the store thousands of dollars, members should receive a reward that’s a little more substantial than a reward for someone who, as a favor, comes into work on his or her day off.

Having your managers practice employee recognition will encourage positive behavior and increase productivity and retention — improving the overall success of your operation.