2 min read

It’s no surprise that employees crave recognition in the workplace and modern workers expect consistent recognition.

In fact, in our recent study we found that 75% of employees in the UK agreed that motivation and morale would improve at their company if managers simply said “thank you” more and noticed when people do good work. And according to KRC Research, 83% of leaders say they could do more to recognise others.

The presence of recognition scepticism at any level is bad for engagement. And you may have worked with a reward and recognition provider to design a beautiful solution that your employees were clamouring for, hoping it would improve churn and produce amazing results right away. And the design and features are important.

But the truth is that the success of recognition within your culture is often in the hands of a company’s managers. 

So why aren't managers recognising? Here are a few reasons I've seen:

Managers feel overworked and underappreciated: Managers are employees too. If there isn’t already a culture of recognition, they may not have the energy to fight the trend.
Leaders don't believe it really will impact results: It’s not that people don’t want to recognise, but it may not feel like a big enough priority or something that will support the goals they are being held accountable to.
It doesn't feel like the manager's ideas: The leadership landscape has been shifting. What worked 20 years ago doesn’t work anymore. No one likes change.
When in doubt, we try to be tough: When people get promoted into leadership roles, they may not have had formal training and may default to traditional leadership stereotypes. No one wants to feel like they are “too soft,” so it is easy to resist a supportive, collaborative leadership style and just get “tough.”
There is a lack of training on recognition techniques: If we ask managers to recognise without giving guidance and training, they may not see their efforts making a difference. And they may be right.

It’s key for managers and HR leaders to be champions for recognition to help transform company culture, achieve business results and connect your people. Managers and leaders can (and should) set the example for how the strategic recognition should be done – the question becomes “how?”

Throughout years of training thousands of managers, I know it can be difficult to truly build that culture of continuous recognition that will drive your business forward. But it doesn't have to be the mountain you've envisioned.

Check out my guide to achieving manager participation for more:

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Download your manager guide »

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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