The Value of Employee Recognition in the Workplace

Todd Kunsman

Head of Marketing

13 minute read

Employee Recognition

In the modern workplace, companies need to focus more on employee recognition and ensure the work environment is captivating and motivating for their people. 

And the organizations who spend time valuing their people and understand the importance of genuine appreciation are the ones gaining a competitive edge. 

Plus people want to be recognized for their work and accomplishments, but they also want to know that company leaders care and practice what they might preach. 

Just having catchy cliche teamwork posters with inspiring messages and memos from the CEO (probably drafted by their assistant) is not going to cut it. 

Below I’m going to dive into the value of employee recognition, some data, and tips to ensure that your employee recognition strategy is successful. 

 

Why Employee Recognition Matters

There is no doubt, you probably have a few good ideas in your mind right now as to why employee recognition in the workplace is so valuable to the business.

However, you might not realize just how impactful it is across various areas of the organization. So why should your company have an employee recognition strategy in place? 

 

Improves employee engagement

When employees feel valued, are contributing to the success of the company, and are being recognized for their work — naturally they feel more connected to their job and company.

Employee engagement positively encourages your company’s people to care about their work, be motivated, optimistic, and be excited to help the organization they work at become as successful as possible.

Recognized employees will take more pride in talking about their company too. 

 

Strengthens work culture

Along with engagement, when employee recognition is taken seriously, your company’s work culture grows stronger.

Certainly work culture takes time to build beyond the recognition aspect, but it is a key part of the puzzle that interlocks employees as one organization.

When everyone is recognized as a group and as individuals, the practice of recognizing starts to build a real community instead of just silos of task-obligated teams. 

 

More trust between company, executives, and employees

When employee experience is improved and a genuine effort by company leaders is endeavored to recognize employees’ work and build a culture, something amazing can happen — trust!

Too often it’s easy to distrust business leaders and the executives who are making the decisions. This can undesirably create negativity and an atmosphere of skepticism. All these things can impact productivity, engagement, and morale within an organization. 

Instead, working together and on ensuring that everyone is valued can start to build trust among the entire company. This is another way to build a true workplace community! 

 

Improves employee retention

Employee turnover can cost your company big time, more than you may even realize.

Not only are there direct costs associated with employee turnover, but plenty of indirect ones you might not be thinking about like lower morale, loss of productivity, disinterest in company initiatives.

But when your employees feel valued and appreciated, not only are they more likely to go above and beyond, but are more likely to stay at your company. 

 

Can incentivize learning and self improvement

When employees are being recognized, praised, and valued — it can trigger a culture that cares about learning and self-improvement.

It gives your team a sense of looking to better themselves and take their knowledge and work to that next level.

This not only benefits their careers and skills, but improves the overall productivity and innovation of your company. 

 

Data Around Employee Recognition

So now that you know why employee recognition matters, how about some data around it? After all, having some statistics and research around it can help validate why a strategy and initiative truly matters.

Here are some employee recognition statistics I found that are quite interesting. 

  • 40% percent of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often
  • 82% of employed Americans don’t feel that their supervisors recognize them enough for their contributions.
  • If organizations double the number of employees who receive recognition for their work on a recurring basis, they can experience a 24% improvement in quality, a 27% reduction in absenteeism and a 10% reduction in shrinkage.
  • Almost 90% of employees who received thanks or recognition from their boss report feeling high levels of trust in that individual, whereas the figure was only 48% among workers who did not receive any recognition
  • A decade of research proves that employee happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements.
  • 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job.
  • The lack of recognition and engagement is driving 44% of employees to switch jobs.
  • Total costs associated with a turnover range from 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

Building An Employee Recognition Strategy

By now, I think and hope you are truly seeing the value of employee recognition and the role it plays in the success of your organization. And if you already do, then you are ahead of the curve! 

But the work doesn’t stop there, you’ll need to have a strong strategy in place to ensure employees are recognized in the workplace and know their value. 

One of the important aspects to remember is that your employee recognition program and efforts must align with your company’s mission and values. And it should be all inclusive, meaning you are not excluding anyone — no matter their position within the organization.

That said, not everyone wants to be called out in an all-hands and given a coveted award, so be considerate of how the individual employee needs to be validated, either one-on-one or publicly.

Ready to learn more? Here are some tips when it comes to working on your strategy and implementing a program. 

 

Find employee advocates to be your brand champions

If you are just building or rebuilding your strategy, one area you’ll want to focus on first is gathering your current employee advocates.

Those employees who support the brand are vocal, leaders, and actively building to improve the work environment. 

These employees can be your long-term brand champions, but they also help lead or guide an employee recognition program because they are in touch with their colleagues’ feelings and interests. 

 

Have clear objectives of rewardable behaviors

When you are getting started with improving your recognition strategy, it’s important to understand the objectives, how it can impact business, and what is considered “rewardable.” 

What employee behaviors are rewardable? What cadence should employee recognition be given? How are different behaviors going to be rewarded? How often should there be recognition in the workplace? And who and where will various levels of kudos come from?

These are questions you should have a clear vision on and subsequently a corresponding system that will help guide your program. 

 

Use tools to keep employees connected

When you are building an employee recognition strategy and program, you’ll want to consider various tools that keep your employees connected.

These tools can be places for employees to communicate, be informed, share insights, receive feedback and recognition from peers, and more. 

Some technologies that come to mind include Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Workplace By Facebook. Another platform you might not have thought of is employee advocacy software, like EveryoneSocial

An employee advocacy platform can be a place for employees to share, create, add feedback, and connect with employees. But it can also be the central hub where the company includes internal content and communications to give kudos and shoutouts to employees.

Employees will see each other’s content, can comment and engage. But you can also highlight this information in company newsletters and push notifications right from the platform as well. Extending the reach of recognition, keeping employees informed, and motivated. 

An employee advocacy platform is also great for new hires — you can include a LinkedIn profile link for example, where everyone can go to connect with that person (besides commenting and welcoming this person internally).

Or if your company handles gives an employee a shoutout on social, you can share that internal for employees to go engage with that post further.

 

Incentivize performances in some way

With your employee recognition strategy, your company should consider incentivizing performances in some way. Naturally, not everything needs to be led with prizes or some monetary value, so mix it up.

As mentioned previously, rotating trophies (e.g. “employee of the month”) aren’t always the best option as they can foment internal politics and gossip.

But positive incentives can take many forms including team shoutouts, food, giftcards, lunch with an executive, employee only events and appreciation days. 

Incentivizing could also be in the form of certifications or non-zero-sum awards, promotions or new responsibilities with increased pay, public recognition from the CEO, etc. And you can even personalize the incentives based on locations and professional needs. 

You can also let employees choose and suggest ways to improve incentiviations. They will have ideas and be more interested and engaged when it comes to things they care about. 

A Gallup poll found that 24% of employees say that their “most memorable recognition” came from the CEO. 

Be careful to not over “gamify” your employee recognition which runs the risk of the prize or gift card eclipsing the employee’s validation altogether. You want them to genuinely care about their work, company, and want to professionally grow.

By building a positive workplace community with the aid of an employee advocacy platform, recognition can take many forms small and substantial.


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