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Bringing recognition into your employee engagement efforts is a must. Thoughtful recognition is a powerful way to show appreciation, help employees learn from each other and help your team focus on “the wins.”

When you get good at recognizing those who do their job well or go above and beyond their role, employees benefit in many ways. Consistent recognition helps create the environment for more engagement because people are getting what they crave.

When employees get what they crave in the workplace, they:

Feel more respected "I was really working hard on that project and put in some extra time outside of work. I'm really proud that my efforts were evident to others and that they see the impact of what I do."
Can more clearly see the purpose and importance of their work "I was surprised to get recognized for how I handled that customer interaction. I didn't realize the customer was so connected in the community. It means a lot to see how my actions might have a real impact on how someone talks about our company!"
Build better relationships with others  "It was so nice of Steve to notice the extra effort I gave in that meeting. I don't work with him a lot, but I will keep an eye out for more opportunities to help his team."

Yet, the impact of recognition is much bigger than on just the individual. 

Think about skipping a stone across a pond… each time the rock touches the water a series of tiny waves ripple away from the impact point. When you recognize someone for doing their job well, the same thing happens. The initial impact (on the person you recognize) spreads as the others in your organization read about the recognition. That ripple spreads even more when your team starts to build the actions into their day-to-day work, which can have a real impact on your team’s (or company’s) goals and objectives.

Or, if you want to think about the ripple effect in another way, think about spreading positivity or gratitude. People who feel recognized and appreciated are more likely to recognize the good work of others. This is just a fact of human nature (what social scientists call “positive reciprocity”). Recognition makes you feel good, both when you get recognized as well as when you acknowledge someone else.

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As more people get on board with making recognition a habit – a part of your work culture (the “way we do things around here”) – the ripple effect spreads throughout the organization.

Emily Stites-employee-recognition

When people on your team read, hear about and share recognition stories, they:

  • Have a better understanding of other groups. "I learned from a recognition post that IT is really busy right now. I need help, but I know another resource who can probably get me what I need and is likely to turn the request around more quickly."

  • Better understand leadership expectations. "I noticed that our regional VP recognized someone for cleaning up a conference room after a meeting because of the impact it has when we have visitors. I never thought about it that way. I hope I didn't come off as being disrespectful – I should start paying more attention to that."

  • Get better at their job/role. "I just read a post about Alyssa who is doing a great job using our new scheduling system. I'm a little confused by it and concerned I'll use it wrong. I'll go ask Alyssa a quick question to save myself time."

  • Feel inspired by the actions of their team/colleagues. "Wow! I love reading stories about how our customer service reps work with customers. They are really creative and committed to the people we help."

launching-hr-tech-Megan Watts - Louis Kwakye

The impact of recognition on business

These outcomes also have an effect on your company as a whole.

Creating a culture of continuous recognition leads to:

Increased engagement and productivity: The more employees feel the benefits above, the more likely they are to give their best efforts to support the company, creating an environment for improving employee engagement. This leads to improvements in countless areas, for example, faster problem-solving, fewer mistakes, more innovation, less stress and improved well-being to name a few.
Reductions in unwanted turnover: When top performers feel that their work is appreciated, they are less likely to look elsewhere for a job. As recognition becomes an integral part of your employee engagement efforts, you’ll see more and more people who are willing to stay even if offered a similar job elsewhere.
Increased focus on the most important goals:  When the whole team (and leaders) are talking about and acknowledging actions that made an impact by writing a strategic recognition message, employees are reminded about the goals that the company is focused on. These reminders do a lot to drive the results that are most important to the company.

The right kind of employee reward and recognition program can make a big impact on your overall employee engagement and culture initiatives. So ask yourself, what kind of ripples are your moments of recognition creating?

Alexandra Powell

Alexandra Powell, Director of Client Cultural Insights, not only knows American Sign Language, but uses it to secretly communicate with her husband and kids at parties. Alex is a highly experienced employee engagement consultant, trainer and speaker. For over 20 years she has helped HR and business leaders implement strategies that drive true culture change.

Director of Client Cultural Insights

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