Engaging Employees Through Recognition

By LaNette Miles and LaNette Andrews

At Clyde Companies, we’re committed to showcasing and celebrating equity and inclusion. As part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, we’ve collected some thoughts and resources to share on the importance of employee recognition and its relation to employee engagement.

In today’s competitive environment, organizations are looking for strategies to attract and retain top performers. A simple concept that is often overlooked is employee recognition. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals (Kruse, 2015). Employees who are connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same. Employee engagement affects just about every important aspect of organizations, including profitability, revenue, customer experience, employee turnover, and more (Ryba, 2022).

Why is recognition so important? Research has shown the No. 1 reason people leave their job is lack of recognition. Employees want to feel valued and recognized for their contributions to the team and organizational success. Employee recognition can be a differentiator for an organization and can impact both an employee’s intent to stay and the level of their engagement (Whickam, 2022). Many organizations believe they are good at recognizing employees, yet according to Gallup, 65% of surveyed employees reported that they received no recognition over the last 12 months (Kopoulos, 2017).

Employee recognition programs do not need to be complex to be effective. Some of the best practices for recognizing employees include:

  • Making it personal. It’s critical that recognition is specific, personal, and accurate.
  • Providing opportunities. Allow team members to grow in their current roles and offer opportunities for advancement.
  • Magnifying recognition. Publicize recognition across multiple platforms, including social media forums.
  • Offering beyond-the-call-of-duty perks. Recognizing employees’ efforts that were above expectation motivates the team.
  • Motivating with financial incentives. Financial incentives are not always effective, but they can demonstrate appreciation for high performance. The best financial incentives are open-ended and unpredictable because they motivate employees to excel at all times.
  • Facilitating peer-to-peer recognition. Employees value recognition from their peers.
  • Recognizing team members’ passions. Recognizing employees for their outside activities, hobbies, and passions personalizes the work environment and promotes a team-member culture.
  • Embracing gamification. Competition fuels an energized, innovative culture.

Implementing a formal recognition program can help ensure that employee recognition is purposeful, strategic, and inclusive. If all leaders are not participating, then lack of recognition could produce job dissatisfaction for those employees left out.

In summary, when employees are recognized and rewarded for their hard work and contributions, they feel truly valued. Workplace recognition can help promote a sense of belonging and greater sense of purpose. It provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, ultimately leading to higher retention.

Sources: 

Kopoulos, Ari. “10 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Employee Recognition.” HRM, https://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/strategic-hr/10-ways-improve-employee-recognition/.

Kruse, Kevin. “What Is Employee Engagement.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 June 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/06/22/employee-engagement-what-and-why/?sh=4245e53e7f37.  

Ryba, Kristin. “What Is Employee Engagement? What, Why, and How to Improve It.” Employee Success Software, https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/what-is-employee-engagement-definition#:~:text=Employees%20who%20feel%20connected%20to,%2C%20employee%20turnover%2C%20and%20more.  

Wickham, Natalie. “The Importance of Employee Recognition: Statistics and Research.” Employee Success Software, https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/importance-of-employee-recognition.