The Returns of Recognition

August 15, 2022

The Returns of Recognition

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” — William James

How do you feel when someone comes up to you, or messages you out of the blue, and says “Thank you”? Or when someone remembers that today is an important milestone in your life: a birthday, wedding anniversary, the anniversary of your joining the company, etc.? It feels good to be recognized, right?

When someone recognizes or thanks you for a kind thing that you did, an awesome idea that you had, a project that you successfully accomplished, or just for being around, it makes you feel good. It makes you want to do better.

As a popular saying in Achievers goes, “What gets recognized, gets repeated.”

Well, leaders, take note: your employees, your team, your family and friends, and the people you are leading want to be recognized too.

The statistics have spoken

Research shows that for businesses, the act of recognizing your employees doesn’t just help your employee engagement, but your bottom line too.

According to research done by WorkHuman and Gallup, out of the 7,000 full-time and part-time workers in the U.S. and more than 5,000 workers in Western Europe surveyed:

And yet, their research found that in a 10,000-employee company or organization, people can save more than 16 million annually in employee turnover costs when they make recognition an important part of their culture. That’s in addition to cost savings from employee engagement and productivity.

Aside from the ROI you get from a simple act of thanking your employees, when an employer recognizes life events and work milestones, employees are:

The returns on recognition affect your bottom line, employee engagement, the company culture, and overall loyalty, well-being, and sense of belonging and ownership of your people.

And in this research, by “recognition” they don’t mean incentives, perks, and promotions. They defined recognition as “the act of praising, acknowledging, or expressing gratitude to employees for who they are and what they do. It involves taking time to thank employees, give them credit for good ideas, and acknowledge their accomplishments.”

Yet, not even half of these full-time and part-time employees feel like we are thanking them enough.

We always emphasize that any type of business is a people business, but we often only think about our clients and consumers when we say that. We forget that there are people putting a big chunk of their days aside to help us achieve the level of production and service we want to provide to the market.

How do we recognize our people more effectively?

In big companies, and even small businesses owned by entrepreneurs, there are a lot of “recognition programs” we put in place in the hope of motivating our teams through monetary means.

But getting paid for a job well done is an obvious result. Beyond the salary, the titles, and the prestige, what really motivates all of us, even at the top level, are simple acts of acknowledgment.

People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards. ~ Dale Carnegie

The best way to recognize your people is to acknowledge the whole person, not the role or position, or what they contributed to the data points of your sales and quarterly reports.

Recognition is no longer just a management tool; it is a necessary leadership skill.

Some simple ways to effectively acknowledge your team are by paying attention to them. Good morning, ask how they are doing and how their week/day was. Listen attentively to what they say, and when you set a time to meet them in the week, make sure to be there.

Saying “thank you,” or “you’re doing a great job” are some of the easiest ways to boost their morale, but it is even better when you are specific about what you are thanking them for: “Thank you for that amazing Instagram post you created the other day,” or “You did a great job writing that blog. It was clear, concise, and it flows in a way that keeps readers entertained.”

This lets them know that you are actually paying attention to their work, and not just parroting empty praise. Plus, it gives them feedback on what they did right and how to do it again (or better) next time.

When things get hectic because you’ve taken on a new client, thanking them for following through and not letting things slip between the cracks during that transition phase will help build resilience.

The Bottom Line

It is human nature to want to be recognized. It not only applies at work, with your team or employees, but with your family, your spouse, your kids, your friends, and the people you love, too.

Appreciating people and letting them know that you see them and care about them not just boosts morale, but their self-esteem, mental health, and well-being, and also helps them lead happier lives overall.

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. ~ Margaret Cousins

Building a culture of appreciation and recognition starts with you. Take time to thank the people around you today. 

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.