Why Steve Grau Insists Upon Recognizing Employee Performance (and You Should, too)

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 5, 2022

Steve Grau, founder and CEO of Royal Ambulance, doesn’t just dole out the occasional compliment. He insists upon a company culture with consistent performance communication from day one onwards.

This has proven to be highly effective, as last year, Royal Ambulance was named one of the top 50 small to medium companies to work for in 2021. It costs little to implement this kind of ethos, and by looking at what a business stands to gain from recognizing employees’ success, it becomes clear why it should become the norm across all industries.

Everyone craves acknowledgment, and in a workplace setting, proper recognition is essential to keep both a company and its employees thriving. It sounds simple enough to give effective feedback, yet studies show that 82 percent of employees feel like their managers do not properly recognize their achievements.

This absence of communication doesn’t just damage the employer-employee relationship but spreads to negatively impact the customer experience as well. This is why forward-thinking leaders like Grau no longer see performance recognition as a superfluous touch, but an important cornerstone for the business as a whole. A dedicated staff recognition system has paid big dividends for the growing company.

Enhanced Morale and Engagement

“We took our time in developing a program that praises employees at key moments with us,” explains Grau, “and in doing so, found both their satisfaction and engagement rose. Nobody wants to feel like an anonymous cog in the machine where they work, and there are numerous opportunities of achievement we celebrate.”

Continues Grau, “Completing their first 90 days on the job, running 100 calls with us, or even leaving Royal for new educational or professional prospects are all things we make a point to note. We have found this creates a classic win-win scenario where everyone involved is more excited to be there, which almost always results in a higher quality of work.”

The value and genuine goodwill employees have developed through this program has caused them to put forth more effort into their work. Grau has found that this kind of mentality eventually spreads to the customer as well.

In highlighting those who are meeting or exceeding expectations, Royal Ambulance’s strategy has invigorated not only individual employees, but the business as a whole. “All it takes is a little forward thought and a consistent system,” says Grau, “and from the top-down, everyone stands to benefit.”

Recognition Improves Retention

Grau’s recognition efforts are especially pertinent in light of the cost of employee turnover. A high turnover rate within a company can quickly become costly. Studies have found that on average, businesses spend over $4,000 to fill open positions — and typically take 42 days or more to fill that position. 

Employees who are recognized for their efforts stay longer, and if and when they do leave, are much more likely to refer others to the place where they felt valued. “Everyone has unique goals when they enter a new job,” says Grau.

“We do our best to help employees professionally and personally grow during their time with us. By putting together a system of praise for those who are thriving in the organization, we have found people stay with us longer, and leave us with glowing reviews and recommendations to new candidates.”

Aside from making the workplace a more pleasant place to be, recognizing employee performance has been found to save businesses money and time. This extends well beyond the present as it affects future prospects once the word gets out on how the company communicates. 

“All of our KPIs on employee retention have increased since instilling our staff recognition system, and it has made the experience as a whole more enjoyable for all. Without it, the employee feels like they are at the best flying blind, or at worse unimportant or ignored. You can easily dispel these notions with just a few kind words or a note, and the end effect is a cycle in which all involved have an opportunity to grow,” comments Grau.

A Culture of Cohesion

“We have plenty of young professionals working with us who are new to the workplace environment,” says Grau, “and sometimes this means they can be timid about sharing their questions or concerns. By fostering a feel-good environment these barriers can be broken down, and honest assessment then follows. We want everyone to feel like their voice is heard, and that we are doing everything we can to put them in a position to succeed. Recognizing exemplary performance results in cohesion across the board, and everyone stands to benefit.”

Whether it’s manager-to-employee or peer-to-peer, encouraging praise has helped Grau’s team define and empower the culture. By paving the way with encouragement, the channels of communication are then open for further feedback.

This has created a space in which employees feel unified, and are far more likely to share their true thoughts. This has helped the company obtain new perspectives and innovations that otherwise would have been left unsaid. 

Laying that initial groundwork of an open-aired workplace took some time to instill, but according to Grau, the potential benefits are limitless in getting the most of his employees.

The Bottom Line …

Royal Ambulance’s employee recognition program has proven to be a key driver to the overall health of the business and the effectiveness of its employees. It has solidified the team already in place as an enthusiastic and cooperative unit and planted the seeds for future success via retention and reputation. Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why any industry leader should consider crafting their own employee recognition program today.

“At the end of the day, we want our people to feel and be treated like more than just numbers,” concludes Grau. “And we strive for all involved to feel valued as people first and foremost. It starts by creating the channels of communication and then leading by example by regulating using them. After enough time by recognizing and celebrating individual performances, we instill the belief that they possess the power to make a real impact on the company and change within themselves.”

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

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