What is Employee Reward and Recognition? 

How to define Employee Recognition, once and for all


There are many definitions out there as to what employee recognition is. Some label it as employee appreciation, employee motivation or just another form of employee engagement. And they’re not wrong. But the real definition of employee recognition is that done correctly, it fills some of the most basic human needs — a sense of belonging, feeling accomplished and also feeling fulfilled.

maslowOriginal Source

That’s why it’s so important to link your employee recognition tactics and employee recognition strategy to those directional points in your business, namely that of your purpose, mission and values. When employee recognition is confused too much with the “carrot and the stick” approach, it decreases the positive impact employee recognition programs will have on a business’s bottom line.

So how do we actually define employee recognition?

Employee recognition is the act of showing appreciation and acknowledgement for employees for contributions to the business that links to the company’s purpose, mission and values.

Employee recognition can take on various forms, such as peer-to-peer recognition, manager-led recognition and leadership-led recognition. But what’s critical to employee recognition success is making sure that employee reward and recognition tactics are delivered in a way that makes recognition:

  • Meaningful
  • Unified
  • Shine through a Spotlight
  • Timely



By introducing continuous recognition and linking it to an organization’s purpose, mission and values, employers can drive values-led behavior that impacts business strategy and goals in a meaningful, tangible way.

For more on this, download our highlight on the different levels of employee recognition, which we like to call our Recognition Pyramid.