Difference Between Employee Engagement and Employee Recognition

Dear Levy,

I was speaking to a colleague about ways to improve our workplace culture. She suggested more employee engagement activities. I suggested more employee recognition. Is there a difference? If they are different, do we need to do both? What makes one more beneficial than the other?

--Engagement vs. Recognition


Dear Engagement/Recognition,

First off, it’s awesome that you want to improve your workplace culture. Offering employees a happy, healthy work environment is a crucial to the company’s bottom line. I’m so glad you are asking questions and seeking ways to make your workplace a happy one!

Now, onto your questions concerning the difference between employee engagement and employee recognition. The answer, they are different, but rather than one being more beneficial than the other, I like to look at them as being partners in crimes against a healthy workplace!

There is a strong link between employee engagement and employee recognition. One of the best ways to keep employees engaged in their work is to recognize them for doing it. Engagement and motivation are boosted when employees are recognized for doing a good job.

Your employees want to be inspired. They want to feel valued. And they want affirmation that the work they are doing is suited to the bigger picture. Without validation, they can become disengaged and lose focus of their individual and company goals.

Being engaged in the workplace means being dedicated to their work and performing at the best of their abilities most, if not all, the time. Almost 70% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were appreciated (Gallup).

Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes a simple “Thank you!” is all an employee needs to feel validated in their efforts. When you recognize an employee for a job well done, you are encouraging them to keep doing great work and boosting their desire to be engaged in that work. As management gives more frequent recognition, employees boost their engagement in order to be rewarded. This creates a cycle that can improve the culture of your workplace by up to 167% (Gallup).

As you can see, recognition and engagement work hand in hand with each other to improve the connection your employees feel to the workplace. Utilizing both the engagement activities suggested by your colleague and recognizing employees for being active contributors to the workplace as you suggested can improve the overall attitude employees share about the company.


If you need engagement or recognition ideas, let me know!

Recognition Rachel

How to Recognize Remote Employees