Finding Meaning In Employee Recognition

The goal of employee recognition is to reinforce positive behaviors, praise individual contributions, and create a more productive workplace. The regular use of employee recognition not only increases productivity but also trust, job satisfaction, and organizational loyalty. No matter how you approach employee recognition and rewards, it is essential to employee tenure and your organization’s success.

A 2017 study of the American workforce found that only 1/3 of employees found meaning in their work, and of that third 93% reported regular recognition in their organization. The other 2/3 of American employees reported little to no recognition in their organization within the last six months as well as decreased job satisfaction. While some will argue employees should not be rewarded for simply doing their job, studies consistently show that the more recognition and appreciation an employee receives the more satisfied, loyal, and productive the employee will be.

Providing employee recognition fosters an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Employees who feel appreciated by their supervisors and their organization are more likely to trust individuals within the company and see their personal values as more in line with company core values and mission. This creates a sense of community and contribution, empowering employees to find meaning in their work.

While finding meaning may not seem essential, research reinforces its importance. Employees often cite their ability to make meaningful contributions above compensation and other benefits. There are many ways to recognize individual employee’s contributions to your organization, helping them to see where they fit into the puzzle and how important their work really is.

The most important thing with recognition is consistency and frequency.  One way to recognize and reward employee performance is through incentive or bonus programs. This formal recognition can be integrated into annual/quarterly reviews, as a piece of an on-going, pre-determined reward system, or a holiday bonus. While monetary recognition is helpful, employee recognition goes far beyond raises and bonuses.  You should also allow employees an opportunity to acknowledge each other. This can come in the shape of a ‘wall of fame’, office superlatives, and other awards. An office party or the annual holiday party offer a perfect opportunity for public recognition.

Having a formal system for recognition is important but, particularly in larger organizations, it can feel impersonal and do little to foster a sense of comfort and room for professional growth. One way to balance this out, is to create an environment that fosters regular positive informal recognition.  Leaders and managers have a unique opportunity not only to increase their employee satisfaction through their own recognition of contributions, but to create a space where employees recognize each other; increasing a sense of community and collaboration in the workspace.

No matter how you approach employee recognition and rewards, it is important to always approach it with compassion, understanding, and patience. It is a balancing act that may take some time to figure out. Ensure your system is all-inclusive, consistent, and timely and the rest will come. Recognizing your employees will not only allow you to create a more positive workspace but will lead to greater employee satisfaction, loyalty, and, in the end, higher organizational productivity.

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