Recognition: powerful, but often overlooked

Employee Collaboration

By Siti Rashidah Yusoff, Lecturer, School of American Degree Program


We all like to be recognized and appreciated. Just by giving an award or recognition certificate, formally recognizing someone in front of a group or even buying a cup of coffee, we’re telling the employee that their work is appreciated.” – Harvey Stein, President, Stein & Read Incentives.

The importance of recognizing individuals for their contributions is clearly reflected in these quotes. In any type of situation, effective leadership depends on reinforcing, motivating, and rewarding value-enhancing behaviors to spur superior performance. As such, a closer look at the positive impact that recognizing people can have on organizational performance will be taken. In fact, Brun and Dugas (2008) reveal that a lack of recognition constitutes the second-largest risk factor for psychological distress in the workplace. Employee recognition has been identified to be a strong motivational tool that enriches employees’ energies towards the accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives and also have significant positive relationship with employee performance (Rahim & Daud, 2013).

What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition, according to Amoatemaa and Kyeremeh (2016), involves the timely, informal and/or formal acknowledgement of a person’s behaviour, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which clearly has been beyond normal expectations.

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” —Stephen R. Covey, American businessman and the widely renowned author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

With organisational success tied to the performance of employees, recognition is now globally more relevant and embraced in organizations determined to succeed in an economically competitive era and its extensive scope presents varied options for use.

5 Magic Steps to Employee Recognition Success

  1. Be specific, be relevant

When recognition is linked to a particular achievement or business goal, it becomes more meaningful. When honouring workers, explaining why they are being recognized is helpful in helping them connect the appreciation to their behaviour. This helps the team to keep performing well.

  1. Be timely

Recognition that arrives months after the fact isn’t nearly as meaningful as recognition received promptly. Make employee appreciation a top priority and put in place structured processes so you can strike while the iron is still hot.

  1. Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes

There is a great deal of research that indicates people are motivated by more than just cold hard cash. It’s also worth noting that when it comes to giving and receiving praise, everyone has their own preferences or styles. Get a better understanding of each person’s primary language of appreciation (at work).

  1. Little things go a long way

While it’s crucial to recognize major accomplishments, every day thank-yous can motivate employees just as much (and sometimes even more). Writing handwritten notes or using the intranet to promote the good behaviours of individuals, can help instil a regular culture of employee recognition.

  1. Connect to the bigger picture

Recognition helps employees see that their company values them and their contributions to the success of their team and the company overall. It makes workers feel secure in their worth to the organization, which motivates them to keep doing great work. Share updates on how the organization is working to achieve its mission on a regular basis and describe how individual employee goals contribute to that vision.


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