A culture of recognition develops engaged and loyal employees. Making employee appreciation integral to your workplace culture can be achieved through meaningful and intentional practices.
Employee recognition has long been a cornerstone of effective management. But today, as the competition for talent escalates, the ways organizations show that they value their employees have become more important than ever.
Creating a recognition program is a start—so if you don’t have one, that’s a good first step!—but great companies go further, constantly reevaluating the ways they reward employees. As companies grow, this becomes even more of a challenge, and leaders must rethink the way they add value to the employee recognition experience.
What is employee recognition?
Employee recognition refers to all the ways an organization shows its appreciation for employees’ contributions. It can take many forms and may or may not involve monetary compensation. Companies recognize employees for things like:
- Exhibiting desired behaviors
- Going above and beyond expectations
- Milestones such as tenure
Why employee recognition matters
From a very early age, we crave recognition from parents, teachers and friends. So strong is our desire for positive affirmation, particularly during developmental periods, that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one.
This continues to hold true as we move into the workplace. Employee recognition helps to:
- Retain top talent
- Increase employee engagement
- Encourage high performance
Great Place To Work-Certified™ company O.C. Tanner studied employee engagement and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it.
An employee survey included the question, “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?”
Respondents answered in their own words, providing a variety of responses, but a clear pattern emerged. 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often.
While other themes like autonomy and inspiration surfaced, recognition was the most common theme that emerged from responses. The study showed that affirmation, feedback and reward are most effective for motivating employees to do their best work.
See the complete results in the chart below:
By narrowing in on several statements in Great Place To Work® Trust Index™ survey that measure how much employees feel recognized at work, we were able to see the impact of recognition culture on employee experience.
Great Place To Work analyzed 1.7 million employee survey responses gathered between 2018 and 2020 across small, mid-sized and large companies.
Recognition makes employees feel promotions are fair, spurs innovation and extra effort
After comparing the overall experience of employees who received recognition to those who don’t, we found that recognition was strongly tied to several areas of positive company culture.
Compared to those who do not consistently feel recognized at work, people who do feel recognized at work are:
– 2.6x more likely to think that promotions are fair
– 2.2x more likely to drive innovation and bring new ideas forward
– 2.0x more likely to say people here are willing to go above and beyond
Employee appreciation is linked to higher job satisfaction
In the same Trust Index™ survey, when asked what makes their workplace “great,” employees who responded positively to survey questions measuring recognition say that they are “incredibly lucky,” “enjoy hanging” and that the company has “excellent integrity,” “uplifting environment” and some mentioned their “career success.”