The benefits of employee recognition in the workplace

Published 30/10/2022
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Most business leaders understand that highly engaged and motivated employees deliver tangible, positive outcomes for the wider organisation. Engaged and happy employees are more motivated, they’re more productive, and workplaces where engagement is high consistently see better financial results - and happier customers too.
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High employee engagement has for a long time been the golden goose that HR teams have been tasked with achieving, utilising a range of strategies spanning internal comms and team building, through to better pay and conditions. 

But it’s employee recognition that has been shown to contribute the most towards high, and sustained, levels of engagement. 

Employees who feel that their efforts are seen and appreciated are far more likely to become actively engaged in their work, and to WANT to contribute in a positive way. 

Recognition can be delivered in a number of ways, from informal ‘thank yous’ from managers to staff, as well as modern approaches including the adoption of online employee recognition programs that enable peers to recognise one another without managerial oversight.  

No matter the approach you take to getting recognition flowing within an organisation, the benefits of good recognition are well-researched and long-established. Here’s a look at just a few of them. 

Organisational alignment 

Employees who feel that their efforts are seen and appreciated are more likely to feel closely aligned with the organisation they work for. 

Research from Gallup shows how, in workplace where recognition is done right, staff are fives times more likely to say they feel connected to their company. They’re also five times more likely to see a path for growth within that organisation, meaning they’re less likely to be looking elsewhere to further their careers. 

High levels of recognition and appreciation are also correlated with a stronger ‘pulling in the same direction’, whereby employees work towards the organisation’s goals and long-term vision. 

Higher engagement 

As mentioned at the top, great recognition leads to higher engagement. In fact, employees who do feel that their efforts are appreciated are four times more likely to be engaged than staff who don’t feel that their input is noticed or valued at all. 

This critical area of people management is often where the business case for recognition is forged by HR departments around the world. A small investment in showing people we notice their efforts, and giving thanks for their regular positive contributions, taps into the intrinsic motivation of everyone within that workforce to give it their all, to go above and beyond, and to help that organisation to succeed. 

Positive employer branding 

The lines between employer and consumer branding are getting more and more blurred. Just as how a PR crisis can affect the ability for a company to recruit, so can poor treatment of workers see retail sales slide. 

Recognition can help to support a positive brand image, including the employer brand - critical when organisations in some economies are finding it so hard to recruit and retain top talent. 

Gallup’s study shows that great recognition leads to a four-fold increase in the likelihood that staff will recommend their organisation as a great place to work. Pair that with a nice referral bonus, and your recruitment teams will find it a lot easier to fill key vacancies! 

Improved wellbeing 

Employee wellbeing was already a big topic before the pandemic, but it has really come to the fore as a critical HR issue over the last three years. 

And research shows that the impact great recognition can have on the emotional wellbeing of workers is profound. 

Data shows that employees who feel appreciated are 73% less likely to report feeling burned out, and also 44% more likely to say they are ‘thriving’ in their life overall. 

These are huge numbers that directly impact so many areas of an organisation’s performance. Healthy, happy employees work harder, they’re more motivated, more loyal and take fewer sick days. Employees who feel unseen and underappreciated are more likely to leave, suffer from work-based stress and anxiety, and take days off for health-related issues. 

Has your organisation taken steps to improve the levels of recognition within the workforce? If not, then now is the time to start! 

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About The Author

Arthur Wilson is a marketing consultant and writer across digital, business strategy and HR. He is a regular contributor to The Entrepreneur and small business advisor for Enterprise Nation.

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