This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.
Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations.
Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.
Despite the unquestioned benefits arising from employee recognition, one of the mysteries of the workplace is that recognition invariably is done badly, if done at all. Few organizations have well-established and accepted formal or informal employee programs in place. Therefore, employee recognition remains an undervalued management technique.
Observing current attitudes by managers, supervisors and other employees can be a guide to the state of employee recognition in your organization. The attitude of upper management invariably sets the precedent for everyone else.
The more senior the management, the less open they are to try out new things like employee recognition activities. The less that management or peers value recognition now, the harder it will be to convince them to change.
Linking recognition behavior to performance management will be the key to behavior change towards employee recognition activities. In other words, if employee recognition behavior is one of the criteria on which managers and supervisors are judged, it will be a powerful force for change in attitudes and behavior. In view of this, one of vital determinants of success in establishing an employee recognition program is to sell the CEO and senior management on the benefits of employee recognition activities.
The answers to the following questions will indicate the extent to which employee recognition is used in your place of work (you can also do this location by location to form a general view:
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