Happiness At Work – The Power of Recognition

I feel so lucky that my parents did not put pressure on me. Growing up, whatever I did, whether it was sport, school-work or singing, they would simply tell me: “Just do your best!”

When I did well at school, I loved it that my parents celebrated my achievements with me. I would bask in their praise and feel so proud of myself! Looking back, I think their encouragement instilled in me a burning desire to “give my all” and to excel. A desire that continues to this day.

My husband, on the other hand, tells me that no matter what grades he received at school, his mother would imply that he could have done better. Imagine how devastated he felt when he arrived home with 90% on a test, and she asked him why he hadn’t done better! His self-belief and motivation were seriously undermined.

Whether you’re 6 years old, 16 years old, or 65 years old, recognition is a vitally important psychological need.

I’m not referring to narcissistic people who have an insatiable desire for flattery and attention to be lavished upon them, in order to boost their fragile egos. I’m talking about authentic recognition –for a job well done.

Think about your life. How great do you feel when you are praised for your efforts, hard work and achievements? Does it inspire you to keep giving your all? As the quote goes: A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.

Famous sales motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said: “Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”

What is employee recognition? It is defined as the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behaviour, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations.

According to McKinsey, praise and commendation from managers was rated the top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, by a whopping 67% of workers.(McKinsey Motivating People, Getting Beyond Money, 2009)

Employees who are praised for their contributions feel valued and appreciated. They are happier, more engaged, more productive and more likely stay with the company.

And the evidence to support this is compelling-

  1. When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, one Study claimed that 58% of respondents replied “Give recognition.” (Psychometrics, A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace 2010)
  2. Organizations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes. (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012)

Employee recognition needs to be the default, rather than the exception. It needs to be practised regularly, frequently and in a timely fashion. In other words, not once a year at performance review time!

There are so many ways to incorporate recognition into your workplace culture. You could even ask your employees via a survey how they would like to be recognised and appreciated. And they’ll be doubly motivated because management is both requesting and responding to their feedback!

The most effective leaders bring out the best in their teams. They know how to harness the power of employee recognition to motivate and raise morale. Having said that, recognition should not just occur from the top-down. Every employee should be actively seeking out opportunities to praise their peers. In fact, peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.   (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

How about some of these simple and totally doable strategies as food for thought?

  • Having an Employee of the Month award
  • Giving the employee an experience that he or she will love and enjoy, say a dinner for two at a nice restaurant, or a weekend away at a spa resort.
  • Taking the employee and the team out for a celebratory lunch.
  • Run a Morning Tea at work in their honour.

The list is endless, and only limited by your imagination!

Think about some easy ways that you can incorporate recognition for a job-well-done into you Company Culture. And then implement them!

Just think about it – most days of the week, we spend more time with our work colleagues than our family members. They are like our 2nd family. And we are all working for a common goal, which is ultimately the success of the organisation.

So just like my parents enthusiastically celebrated my successes with me, we should all actively seek out opportunities to pat our colleagues on the back and cheer them on for their achievements, both big and small.

How incredibly motivating is that?!