Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today’s Workplace

 In Employee recognition, employee retention, Rick Conlow, Servant leadership

Employee recognition is an often-undervalued approach. When executed well it elevates engagement and retention.  In the battle for talent in an increasingly complex, disruptive, and competitive world, organizations cannot afford to miss this point. Culturally engrained employee recognition and appreciation matters in today’s workplace.

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's WorkplaceThe High Payoff of Employee Recognition

Research shows employees with little, or no recognition exhibit decreased job satisfaction, higher turnover, lower productivity and engagement, and greater stress or burnout.

Research also adds that consistent recognition and praise can have significant positive effects on employee performance and loyalty.

For example, one of our clients wanted to increase sales results with existing customers. Through planning meetings, training, and coaching we ramped up the initiative. Management set a fifteen percent goal for improvement. We thought they could do more. So, we implemented a recognition program for customer reps and management. It included timely monthly and quarterly awards plus incentives. As a result, the company achieved a 75% gain! Through feedback, the company’s branches listed recognition and coaching as the top initiatives that helped.

Companies that achieve top-tier ratings for employee morale and engagement report the following gains.

  1. Increased Employee Engagement: According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, employees who receive regular recognition are more likely to be engaged in their work. This results in higher productivity, lower turnover rates, and 21% more profit.
  2. Improved Employee Retention: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that organizations with effective recognition programs experience 31% lower voluntary turnover than those without such programs.
  3. Boosted Job Satisfaction and Performance: A survey by Psychometrics revealed that 69% of employees say they would work harder if they received more recognition for their efforts.
  4. Impact on Performance: The Aberdeen Group found that organizations with effective employee recognition programs have a 14.6% higher employee performance compared to those without such programs.
  5. Positive Work Environment: The O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2020 Global Culture Report showed that 87% of organizations with a strong recognition culture reported a positive employer brand.
  6. Link to Employee Well-Being: A survey conducted by Globoforce in 2021 found that 84% of employees felt recognized by their manager reported lower stress levels.
  7. Appreciation and Effort: According to a survey by Glassdoor, 53% of employees felt that receiving recognition for their work would make them feel more appreciated.
  8. Connection to Happiness: The Harvard Business Review reported that employees who feel appreciated and recognized are not only more satisfied with their jobs but are also happier overall.

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's Workplace10 Examples of Company Employee Recognition Programs

With a genuine commitment to employees, companies can creatively find ways to enhance their employee recognition and appreciation efforts. Learn from these ten examples.

  1. Google – Google has a peer recognition program called “gThanks,” where employees can send “thank you” notes to their colleagues, praising their efforts and contributions.
  2. Salesforce – Salesforce has an internal recognition platform called “Thanks for the Win” (TFW). Employees can award each other “points” for exceptional work, and which they can redeem for various prizes.
  3. Facebook – Facebook has a recognition program called “Facebook Applause.” Employees can give “Applause” to their colleagues for going “above and beyond” in their roles, and the recognized employee receives a notification and appreciation message.
  4. Microsoft – Microsoft has a recognition program called “Thanks” that allows employees to send personalized notes of appreciation to their peers.
  5. Adobe – Adobe has an employee recognition platform called “Cheers for Peers.” Employees can send virtual “cheers” to each other to recognize their contributions.
  6. Amazon – Amazon has a recognition program called “Connections.” Employees can give each other virtual “kudos” for demonstrating Amazon’s Leadership Principles.
  7. IBM – IBM has a recognition program called “Catch Me at My Best,” where employees can acknowledge and celebrate their colleagues’ excellent work.
  8. Cisco – Cisco has a peer-to-peer recognition program called “Connected Recognition,” which allows employees to send recognition badges to each other for demonstrating company values and achieving success.
  9. Deloitte – Deloitte has an employee recognition program called “Applause.” Employees can send “applause” to their colleagues as a way of showing appreciation.
  10. Intel – Intel has a recognition program called “Spot Bonus Awards,” which allows managers to give on-the-spot bonuses to employees who have demonstrated outstanding performance.

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's Workplace12 Methods of Employee Recognition

What are the best practices for recognizing and appreciating employees? Study these proven approaches.

  1. Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year: This is a classic recognition program where a standout employee is identified for his/her exceptional performance, dedication, or contributions. The person may receive a plaque, certificate, or other rewards like gift cards or a reserved parking spot.
  2. Peer Recognition: In this program, employees can nominate their colleagues for recognition. Peers can acknowledge each other’s efforts and accomplishments, which helps build camaraderie and a sense of appreciation among team members.
  3. Spot Awards: These are spontaneous and immediate rewards given for specific actions or achievements. Spot awards are often small but meaningful gestures, such as gift cards or thank-you notes, to recognize excellent work in real-time.
  4. Longevity Awards: These programs celebrate employees’ loyalty and commitment to the company by recognizing their years of service. Timeframes like 5, 10, 15, or 20 years are commonly acknowledged milestones, and employees may receive gifts or special bonuses.
  5. Performance-Based Bonuses: Companies can implement performance-based bonus programs tied to specific targets or metrics. High-performing employees receive financial incentives as a reward for achieving their goals.
  6. Team-Based Rewards: Recognizing the collective efforts of teams is equally important. Companies can offer rewards like team outings, team lunches, or team-building activities when a group accomplishes significant milestones or achieves outstanding results.
  7. Employee Appreciation Events: Organizing events dedicated to showing appreciation for employees can be impactful. This might include annual recognition banquets, appreciation weeks, or themed celebrations.
  8. Personal Development Support: Recognizing employees’ aspirations for growth and providing opportunities for further education or skill development is a valuable recognition program.
  9. Wellness Initiatives: Acknowledging the importance of employee well-being, companies can have programs that promote wellness, such as gym memberships, mental health support, or wellness challenges with rewards.
  10. Innovation Awards: Recognizing and rewarding employees who produce innovative ideas, process improvements, or new products/services can encourage a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship.
  11. Customer Appreciation Programs: Employees who receive exceptional feedback from customers receive recognition and praise for their efforts.
  12. Global Recognition: For multinational companies, having a centralized recognition program that spans across distinct locations can promote a unified company culture and recognize outstanding employees worldwide.

Remember, the success of any recognition program lies in its sincerity, consistency, and alignment with company values. Tailor the program to suit your organization’s unique culture to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities to receive recognition for their contributions.

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's WorkplaceWhat Kind of Recognition Do Employees Really Want?

Bottom-line, employee appreciation is more than a program. It is about the relationship of employees with their individual managers and the company. Employees want to know that their organization values them. And they want a positive environment to do their jobs. You do not have to spend a lot of money. Sixty-five percent of employee value non-monetary recognition over fiscal ones. Listed below are specific considerations for managers and organizations to elevate their efforts to deliver recognition.

  • Make it timely, genuine, and sincere.
  • Observe and listen to employees–this is a form of recognition.
  • Implement regular one-on-one performance discussions/check-ins.
  • Encourage peer recognition.
  • Align recognition with company values.
  • Consider individual preferences.
  • Use a variety of methods but a simple thank you or personal note works wonders.
  • Personalize the recognition or praise.
  • Connect recognition to career growth.
  • Celebrate milestones and achievements.
  • Ask for employee input.
  • Lead by example.

Why Do Managers Do a Poor Job of Employee Recognition?

High employee disengagement includes high management disengagement. Managers deliver poor recognition because they are not receiving what they need from executives to be more effective. The company may have a toxic culture and employee praise is not a priority. As a result, financial resources are not allocated to assist the recognition effort. Consequently, elevated levels of stress lead to greater burnout and anxiety.

Managers often have multiple responsibilities and tasks on their plates, leaving them with limited time to focus on employee recognition. They may prioritize other urgent matters over recognition efforts. Managers may not have received proper training or guidance on how to effectively recognize and appreciate their employees. Consequently, they are poor in setting expectations, communicating, praising, and coaching. And they lack knowledge of the best practices for providing meaningful recognition.

Furthermore, managers may worry about showing favoritism if they recognize individual employees more than other employees. As a result, they might avoid recognition altogether to prevent any perceived bias. In too many cases, managers may prioritize achieving results over recognizing employee efforts. They might believe that employees should perform well as part of their job and, therefore, may not feel the need to recognize them separately. Finally, managers’ personalities and leadership styles can also play a role in their ability to provide effective recognition. Extroverted managers may naturally be more appreciative and expressive, while others may find it challenging to express praise.

Pulling It all Together

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's WorkplaceCreating a culture of appreciation and recognition starts in the executive offices. However, it is no excuse for any manager to do a consistently poor job of employee recognition and praise. You can learn and train yourself through individual initiative. That is what exceptional and servant leaders do. Finally, remember these quotes as they highlight the importance and value of employee recognition.

  • “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, American writer
  • “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”– Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
  • “When a manager recognizes an employee’s behavior, personally and sincerely, both feel proud, gratified, and happy. There is a human connection that transcends the immediate culture to create a shared bond. The power of this bond is stronger than you might think; indeed, it is the power that holds together great organizational cultures.”– Erik Mosley and Derek Irvine, co-authors of The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work
  • People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.”–  Bob Nelson, best-selling author, and motivational speaker
  • “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”– Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • . “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they are your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”– Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox

Why not join us on LinkedIn for the Servant Leadership revolution that is taking place about the power of people? Go here:  ServantLeadership@RickConlow International. THANK YOU!

Also, click here for excellent insight and a complimentary resource called–4 Keys to Creating a High-Performance Team.

Why Employee Recognition Matters in Today's WorkplaceIn addition, see our RealTime Learning & Training leadership and personal development website–over 250 resources. Micro-learning and career advancement at your fingertips!

Finally, see Rick’s newest book. The 5 Dynamics of Servant Leadership: How to accelerate your career and inspire your team!  See his newest self-directed leadership training: 21 Servant Leadership Training Lessons.

CEO/Founder, Rick Conlow International: RCI transforms managers into leaders by coaching and training them to become Servant Leaders. Clients achieve record-breaking performances in sales growth, customer experience improvement, employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. Furthermore, RCI’s online resources coach and train all managers or employees to higher levels of career success.



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