Employee Appreciation vs. Employee Recognition

Dear Levy,

Our company is making a shift in its employee retention strategy. We are looking for a long-term solution that helps our employees to feel valued. Is there a difference between employee appreciation and employee recognition? If there is a difference, do we need to incorporate methods for both in our company’s retention plan?

-- Retention Strategist


Dear Retention Strategist,

Developing an employee retention plan is something that requires research, investment, and at times, trial and error. With so many strategies and methods available, it can be hard to determine which offers the most long-term solution for keeping employees engaged and connected with the workplace.

Some might argue that employee appreciation and employee recognition are the same things. The word phrases are often used interchangeably to create feelings of belonging, acceptance, value, and connectivity for employees. Appreciation and recognition work hand in hand to improve the company’s bottom line.

Research from UC Berkeley suggests a difference between employees who feel recognized at work and those who feel valued. Employees who receive recognition for individual accomplishments are 20% more productive in their jobs. Sounds good, right? Consider this, employees who feel valued as an included member of their organization are 45% more productive.

This data suggests that when employees feel connected to their work and know they are appreciated for their contributions, they are happier and more productive than employees who do not feel like a valued member of the team overall. The data also shows that the desired effects of employee recognition are more short-term but are still an essential part of increasing productivity and workplace happiness.

Employee recognition is somewhat of a subgroup of employee appreciation. To give recognition means to celebrate a specific success or behavior. It is a positive affirmation given to an employee who has achieved specific results or performance levels. There are several reasons for companies to give employee recognition. When given frequently, it can improve employee engagement and strengthening workplace cultures. Employees who receive recognition are inspired to increase production and become a more active contributor to the workplace.

Companies often use employee recognition programs to improve workplace engagement and build lasting employee relationships. Through consistent and meaningful recognition, companies can make their employees feel more appreciated. When used as a complement to long-term employee appreciation strategies, employee recognition can help companies:

  • Increase Productivity
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction
  • Reduce Employee Turnover
  • Decrease Employee Burnout
  • Increase in Sales
  • Reduce Workplace Accidents

Employee appreciation is about supporting your employees for who they are, not just what they do. It is a long-term strategy that involves taking ongoing steps to build an influential company culture that encourages peers to value, respect, and support one and other. It is also a strategy that requires company leaders to create authentic and trusting relationships with their employees and other company decision-makers.

Building this culture of caring and making employees feel appreciated is not something accomplished overnight. Employee appreciation strategies meant to be effective for more extended periods should do more than just reward workers for their accomplishments. Employers must make employees feel like valued team members of the company. They can accomplish this through several types of recognition tactics including, company bonding events, social recognition, peer to peer recognition, employee gifts, new hire welcome celebrations, and more. Through recognition, companies can build stronger company cultures, help their employees connect to the company mission statement, and send a message of appreciation that increases employee loyalty and commitment to the company. Companies that use employee recognition to build a culture of appreciation experience less employee turnover.

I hope you'll find ways to use both recognition and appreciation strategies in your retention plan!

Best Wishes,

Recognition Rachel

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