All human beings have a desire to be recognized. In fact, it’s more than a desire – it’s actually a need. Being recognized taps into our needs around belonging and esteem. Without recognition and appreciation in our lives, many of us would find it difficult to focus on our higher-level needs around achievement and actualization, and the workplace is no exception.
Recognition at work is one of the most powerful ways to transform the company culture and reach your core business goals. Employees who receive recognition feel appreciated, valued, and are more invested in their contributions and commitments to the workplace.
And this seems intuitive because being appreciated feels good – regardless of whether we’re at home or at work. Yet too often, business leaders think that recognition should come in the form of expensive annual bonuses or similar rewards, and they give it infrequently or avoid it altogether. But it turns out that other forms of recognition can be just as powerful.
Recognition can come in the form of praise or acknowledgment – and it can be delivered in a number of ways. We can certainly recognize someone by giving them an award, certificate, or plaque …but we can also recognize them through a sincere conversation or even in writing.
To maximize its impact, recognition should be specific (tell the person what you’re recognizing them for), timely (recognize their contribution in a reasonable amount of time after they’ve made it), and delivered in the way most meaningful to them. For some people, public acknowledgment at a team meeting would resonate best. For others, they’d feel embarrassed and would prefer a private email or meeting. Knowing your people is key – and before leaders scoff at this as another time-consuming tactic, they should understand the impact it can make on the business.
· Employees that are frequently recognized are more likely to feel more engaged and more motivated. This engagement and motivation leads to tangible increases in meeting organizational goals – as it reduces turnover, which is linked to lower effectiveness.
· Highly engaged employees are able to make a measurable impact on the bottom-line of an organization, often leading to increases in safety, profitability, retention and satisfaction for employees and customers alike. And unsurprisingly, one of the elements of high engagement is feeling valued and appreciated.
· Recognition can help the collective workplace continue to work on organizational goals and values. Part of this tactic depends on what you recognize, but by recognizing (and therefore reinforcing and encouraging) the behaviors that are aligned to organizational goals, leaders are likely to see more of those behaviors, creating a ripple effect of people working towards clear goals.
Rather than seeing recognition as another item on a to-do list, leaders who view it as a powerful way to transform into a culture that meets it’s organizational goals will be at an advantage in the marketplace.