Employee Recognition

The concept of Employee Recognition is not new but in today’s digital fast paced environment it is easy to forget the HUMAN in Human Resources. 

As humans, we are hardwired for recognition and feedback: babies push themselves to do incredibly hard tasks, like walking and talking and we, their parents, recognize their efforts and encourage their endeavours.  Throughout school the same process of learning occurs, and for today’s millennials who have grown up in the Google instant-response age, constant feedback is a way of life.

As far back as 1943, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchical set of needs that motivate human behaviour.  Survival is the most basic need, then food and shelter, then safety, then the need to belong and be appreciated (both of which are underpinned by Recognition), and finally Esteem and Self Actualisation (also underpinned by Recognition). 

So what happens when adults go to work… how is the recognition and learning factor catered for?  There is a point of view that PAY ticks the recognition box, and yes, it is certainly one tick, but what opportunities are lost by not giving enough attention to the other forms of Recognition?

This blog sets out the business case for non-financial Recognition.

Firstly what do we mean by non-financial Recognition?

Recognition can take a number of forms:

·         Acknowledgment of someone’s value to the team

·         Praise for a task well done

·         Involvement in decision making

·         Contribution to a discussion

Recognition is received as “I matter”, “my contribution is valued”.

A large number of studies over the past 20 years have shown that recognition is the key to employee engagement and can increase employee performance by up to 15% in service industries, and up to 20% in manufacturing.

1. There is a direct link to outcomes.  If you acknowledge me, I am likely to be moved by your respect and approval - I will see a value in this and it will make me feel part of things, of the success of the team, of the shared endeavour.  Employees who receive recognition are five times more likely to go the extra mile.

2. When recognition is supported with good information and genuine appreciation e.g.”Good Job Agnes, we met that key deadline because you helped John out”, the employee’s behaviour is re-enforced.

3. It helps the employee to understand what matters in the organisation (culture) and gives insight into how they can enhance their future performance. 

On the flip side a lack of recognition can stop employees from having the motivation to achieve their potential and do even greater work.  Many managers feel that they are good at recognising their staff, yet less than 12% of employees (Gallup research) feel that they receive meaningful recognition at work.  Perhaps this is because a formulaic approach doesn’t work; for recognition to be meaningful it must be relevant and specific. People sniff out insincerity in a flash.  In 2004 Gallup conducted research with 4m employees on the importance of praise and recognition.  The conclusion was that employees who receive regular praise are more productive, engaged, and more likely to stay with the organisation than those who do not.  They also receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers and even enjoy better health.

So the next time you see someone doing the right thing – take a minute to thank them openly.  Recognition is good practice and good business!