Types of Employee Recognition that Backfires

Do you know exactly how to recognize your employees? Your company implements employee recognition regularly, and everyone seems to enjoy it, right? More often, managers struggle to recognize their employees in ways that are meaningful and inspirational. They think that just because they have implemented some form of recognition that they are doing the right thing, and their employees should be on board. 

But there are ways to implement the wrong type of employee recognition. Company leaders should be cautious of recognition tactics that don’t work. These are a few recognition tactics that tend to backfire. 

Giving Bonuses and Title Promotions 

In some companies, ‘title bumping’ is a common recognition tactic. It happens when an employee has done a great job or finished a huge assignment and deserves some reward. So, they receive a new job title and a small bonus. 

However, the new job title doesn’t come with new job responsibilities or raise in pay. The promotion feels like a big deal but carries no weight. Employees receive this type of recognition as ‘lip service’ and stop working towards company goals if they see that it gets them nowhere. Employees need real recognition and rewards to stay motivated towards bigger-picture company goals. Without it, they feel their talents are overlooked or even wasted.  


Forcing Employees to Have “Fun” 

Everyone loves a good pizza party or office celebration involving cake. But when given as a last-minute way to congratulate someone or a team of people for a job well done, many of your employees may feel it isn’t genuine or worthwhile. They may feel forced into participating. 

The same applies when it comes to corporate gift-giving and holiday celebrations. When companies don’t take into account how their employees view appreciation, corporate gifts can come across as cheap and thoughtless. You may think that white elephant gifts and gag gifts are a fun, light-hearted way to bring laughter and fun to the company, but often these types of gifts make your employees feel underappreciated. 

Personalized recognition and meaningful gifts are the way to go when it comes to office celebrations. Birthdays, life-events, holidays, and retirements can and should all be thoughtful celebrations with personalized gift-giving that make employees feel like a unique and valued part of the company. Of course, you can still serve cake, but be genuine in how you invite employees to be part of the celebration. Building a culture of recognition means that gift-gifting and office gatherings are thoughtful, well-planned events that employees want to attend. 


Praising End Results 

Your employees are working hard. While not everyone can complete a large task, or reach a goal, or close a big deal every single day, they are doing things that are deserving of recognition. By only praising end results and outcomes, you are creating a workplace culture that doesn’t value the consistent work of everyone who contributes to the company’s bigger picture. 

If the only time an employee receives praise is when they do something phenomenal, they get burned out and start to feel like their days of diligent work are meaningless. This causes disengagement and could result in lower employee production numbers. 

Employers should be giving consistent and frequent recognition for the efforts of each employee. Praising small victories and accomplishments as they happen is a great way to show employees thanks and appreciation. 


Not Personalizing the Recognition 

Similar to giving gag gifts and hosting celebrations that feel forced, when recognition is given in haste or without regard to an employee’s individual needs, it feels half-hearted and useless. When employers make recognition an afterthought, employees begin to feel like an afterthought. Giving recognition in a way that is impersonal and not respectful to the employee's wants and needs is only going to make the employee feel less appreciated in the long run. It sounds crazy, right? Praising an employee for a job well-done can actually backfire and make them feel less appreciated. It’s true. 

Your employees come from all walks of life and take value in various types of recognition and praise. By taking the time to get to know your employees and learn what types of recognition are meaningful to them can help you be better at how to praise them in the future. When employees know that you care, they feel like valued contributors to the workplace. When given correctly, recognition can strengthen the bond your employees have with you and the work they are doing for your company. 

Recognition Tips and Tools