Maximising employee recognition in the workplace

Employee recognition is often undervalued by managers in the workplace, yet it can have a profound impact upon employee engagement, performance, motivation, morale and, ultimately, how long a worker decides to stay with your company.


What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition takes many different forms. Essentially, it is about rewarding an employee for a good job done. The recognition does not have to take the form of a pay increase, although this is often the most valued and recognised form of recognition, but there are many other ways that a manager can appreciate and acknowledge the skills and output of a worker.

What forms can recognition take?

At its simplest, recognition can take the form of a thank you, but other incentives might include training or promotion, more responsibility, taking part in decision-making, having the right tools for the job and awards or prizes.

Smaller organisations may not have the financial resources to employ recognition schemes based on pay incentives, but research has shown that other methods can be as effective in promoting employee engagement and satisfaction.

Survey results

The results of an employee satisfaction survey undertaken in the USA make interesting statistics with regards to employee recognition. Around 5,000 companies and 400,000 employees took part in the survey to find out how often individuals were recognised in the workplace and what form of recognition they valued the most.

The results indicated that the highest number of satisfied employees (73%) lived in Huntsville, in Alabama, followed by Nashville in Tennessee at 69%, Austin and San Antonio in Texas, as well as Washington DC at 68% and Atlanta in Georgia, Charlotte in North Carolina, Orlando in Florida, Raleigh in North Carolina and Tampa in Florida all achieving 67% of satisfied employee scores.

Survey respondents highlighted a pay raise as the most valued form of recognition, followed by training, flexible working hours, receiving a bonus or a promotion. The least favoured form of recognition was a personalised gift such as a plaque or company merchandise.

Executing an employee recognition programme

Implementing an employee recognition programme in the workplace needs to take into account the fact that individuals are unique and value different forms of recognition, or may benefit more from one form compared to another, taking into account the delicate balance of the employee value proposition.

Employers should also recognise that individuals are at different stages of the employee lifecycle, so that different forms of recognition may be more pertinent and valued depending on whether they have just joined the organisation or whether they have been there a long time.

Employers should certainly take the statistics gained from the USA survey conducted into account, with the aim of maximising the satisfaction levels within their organisation. Whenever recognition is given, employers also need to ensure that it is timely (that it occurs immediately following a good job done, or in cases where it is necessary to fulfil a task), and that it is given consideration at regular intervals throughout the year.