The Importance of Recognition in the Workplace

by Adetayo Adu-Okubote, Lead Consultant at RS Hunter Limited, March 23, 2016
The award goes toThe founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash,  once said “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” This was the lesson learnt at the 10th edition of the Headies Award 2015 which was held on the 1st of January, 2016. The award show turned sour as heavy weight Don Jazzy and singing sensation Olamide Baddo got into a war of words about the rightful winner of the ‘Next Rated’ award.

The verbal exchange revealed the power of recognition and the importance that people attach to it. No matter who you are, how much wealth you have acquired or what you have accomplished, everyone still wants to be recognised and appreciated for their effort. This is also true for employees in any organisation, be it a senior, middle or low level position. When employees put their effort into their work, they like to feel that the company recognises and appreciates their contribution.

Why Recognition is Powerful in an Organisation

  • Happy EmployeeEmployees who are recognised for their effort tend to want to put in even more thereby excelling at their jobs. This has been linked to the ‘feel good’ sensation that accompanies a “Thank you.”, “You did a good job!”, “You are important to us.” or “That was a fantastic idea!”.
  • Companies who have programs that recognise the efforts and contributions of their people tend to have a higher rate of retention. It has been proven that employees are more likely to stay with a company where they know that their hardwork is appreciated.
  • Employees feel a sense of ownership and belonging to their jobs and the company as a whole.

Guidelines for Employee Recognition

  • Employee of the monthRecognition should be woven into the fabric of every organisation such that it permeates all they do. This culture should be top-down and driven by management and should be seen as a priority for CEOs, managers and supervisors. Whatever initiatives are implemented, they should not come across as patronising as this will have a negative effect on employee morale.
  • Employees can be recognised either individually or through teamwork so long as, in the latter, each team member is given some recognition. Acknowledgement of an employees efforts can take place in team or staff meetings, board meetings or special company events.
  • Thank YouRecognition must be fair, sincere and heartfelt, not forced or contrived.
  • Recognition must be timely so that an employee is able to link the desired behaviour with the recognition and improve on it. Don’t wait to show appreciation once a month or year. Do it NOW.
  • Companies should be seen spending time and money finding ways to recognise and reward the contribution of their employees. Sometimes, it is the thought and the effort that counts. This can be as simple as surprising them with lunch or giving them a spot on the website or a poster in the lobby.

Employee recognitionOn a final note, when it comes to employee recognition; employers must ensure that the recognition whether financial or not is valued by the employee. Sometimes, companies decide on recognition programs without any feedback from their employees on what they would appreciate. According to a recent study by the International Association of Administrative Professionals and Office Team, a staffing company in Menlo Park, California, there is a disconnect between what employees want and what managers think they want. This is unfortunate as it defeats the whole purpose of recognition. It is always advisable that management don’t work on assumption alone but seek the input of their employees to determine what they really appreciate and value.

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RS Hunter Limited

RS Hunter Limited is a human resources consulting firm based in Nigeria that has over the years grown to become one of the leading providers of best practice HR solutions to small and medium-scale enterprises' as well as multinationals. We offer advisory, recruitment, training and outsourcing services. Visit for more information.

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