There is something profoundly gratifying about being acknowledged for our efforts and contributions, whether it’s in a personal or professional context. It’s an experience that we not only enjoy as human beings— but one we actually need in order to maintain motivation and satisfaction in our lives.
This is because approval, acknowledgement, and recognition are linked to our sense of identity. Imagine being a small child, around the age of seven or eight, and looking up to your oldest sibling. Now imagine your parents consistently recognize how intelligent your older sibling is. They congratulate them on their good grades and regularly refer to your sibling as their “little genius.”
Over time, you begin to realize your parents don’t say the same things about you. They aren’t neglectful or rude to you, either. They simply don’t give you the same acknowledgement. Would you begin to question your intelligence? Would you start to believe you aren’t as smart as your sibling?
For many people, the answer would be yes, because when others fail to notice or validate us, we begin to question our sense of self.
This is the power of recognition.
And what we often fail to realize is that our need for recognition doesn’t go away with age. We simply seek it from different sources. As adults, these sources present themselves in our work and professional careers.
Employee recognition is the practice of expressing appreciation and admiration for the hard work, behaviors, or positive contributions a team or individual has brought to your business.
The key word here is in the expression. The employee(s) must understand the purpose of the feedback being presented and it must be delivered in a positive way that resonates with the team member(s), producing the desired result.
If an employer’s recognition efforts are not impactful for the employee or team they are intended for, then it is not meaningful recognition and won’t be effective in terms of benefiting employees and increasing engagement.
On a broader scale, creating a culture of recognition is important because it helps employees feel valued and increases overall job satisfaction. When employees feel appreciated and respected, they are more likely to be enthusiastic and passionate about their roles and as a result, put more effort into work. Naturally, any employer wants employees to be happy and the power of recognition is clear when looking at the benefits for employees. But what are the benefits for employers who cultivate recognition culture in the workplace?
Studies show that business productivity increases by 31 percent when employees are happy, and that 92 percent employees are more likely to repeat a specific action after receiving positive recognition for it. This can be attributed to the role of acknowledgement and approval in motivation. When employers commit to giving recognition, they create an environment where the brain reward systems of their employees are activated. Or, simply put, employees will want to continue receiving positive feedback because it makes them feel appreciated, so they’ll seek out ways to be more helpful to their teams and members of upper management.
Another noteworthy example of the power of recognition is its ability to increase employee loyalty and therefore reduce employee resignations. Businesses with a formal recognition program in place have 31 percent less turnover than those without a program at all. Plus, 55 percent of employees who plan to switch jobs say lack of recognition is the top factor driving their decision. This is why establishing a recognition culture should be a priority for every business, big or small. If companies want to combat this trend, they must familiarize themselves with employee recognition best practices and begin developing strategies that align with the wants and needs of their team members.
Absenteeism costs American companies between $2,660 & $3,600 per employee every year — a price that could jeopardize the viability of many organizations. But when employers introduce rewards and/or public recognition, employees are more motivated to show up and not only complete their work, but do it well. A Gallup study found that if companies double the amount of the employees they recognize weekly, they would see a 27% reduction in absenteeism.
There are several recognition forms businesses can choose from when determining how to show appreciation for their employees. Below are the most common options.
When a manager or supervisor gives special acknowledgement to a subordinate employee, it’s referred to as top-down recognition (or leadership recognition). While this hierarchical approach to recognition can be effective, it does have its drawbacks. Upper level managers may be biased, for instance, and focus on giving praise to specic employees while neglecting others.
In order to truly harness the power of recognition using this model, senior executives must have a process in place for identifying potential bias, and they also need to have their finger on the pulse of all employee efforts throughout the company.
Company-to-employee recognition is one of the more prevalent forms of employee appreciation. Under this model, employers host company-wide events or initiatives that apply to all employees. Whether it’s an Employee of the Month program, an annual employee appreciation event, or educational opportunities, the benefits are offered to staff on behalf of the entire organization.
In these situations, employees express appreciation for one another by acknowledging the talent, accomplishments, or contributions of another employee. They may nominate their peers to receive a monthly bonus, post a compliment on the lunch room bulletin board, or give the individual the parking space closest to the oce entrance for an entire week — the options are endless!
Public recognition is exactly as it sounds — a public display of appreciation directed toward a specific employee or team of employees. This can be done in a team video chat, during a staff meeting, or at a major company event. The primary reasons to acknowledge employees in public are to display transparency, share the celebration with others, and to generate excitement amongst other team members.
Before planning a public recognition, however, it is important to confirm the individual(s) being acknowledged are comfortable with this approach.
Private recognition typically takes place behind closed doors, during either a one-on-one conversation or a small gathering of key team members. The employee(s) being acknowledged may receive a raise or opportunity for advancement, for instance, and thus the need for privacy is paramount. Private recognition is frequently given in situations where a specific individual is being rewarded for their efforts.
Performance recognition is all about rewarding efficiency. Employees that uphold or exceed quality expectations while also maximizing productivity are celebrated for their achievements. Examples of performance achievements that might be rewarded include lowering production costs, improving average resolution times for customer service, or reaching a monthly sales target.
Milestone-based recognition is less about how fast or well a task or workflow is completed and more about reaching a specific point in a process. An employer might give a gift card to a fine dining restaurant to all employees on their one year work anniversary, for instance, or pay for a team lunch when a project is halfway completed.
Value recognition is administered on a more subjective basis. Management teams or an employee’s peers will determine they provided exceptional value to the company and decide to reward them based on the outcome of their efforts. A real estate agent might close the highest sale in their rm’s history, for example, or a frontline employee might demonstrate exceptional leadership skills during a crisis.
Regardless of how you choose to recognize your employees, one thing is for certain — your employees will appreciate your efforts and it will benefit your business overall. Remember, we all have a fundamental human need to feel valued and validated.
LeggUP is a professional coaching platform designed to help your employees feel heard, and purpose in their work, and feel empowered to take hold of their careers. Ask us what we can do for your company!