The Power of Recognition and Reward in the Workplace: What should Managers Know?

Among the most valuable assets in any workplace are the employees that actually do all of the work. In some cases, those employees might be rare and talented, and tremendous amounts of time and energy might have gone into building up their skillsets.

It’s therefore critical that we do whatever we can do to get the best out of our employees, whether by bolstering productivity, reducing absenteeism, or reducing staff turnover.

There are ways to do this which don’t involve spending large amounts of money. In fact, among the more effective measures is to simply recognise when something has gone right, and single out the person responsible for praise. This is often a simple matter of crafting the right internal communications policy.

Why does recognition matter?

Lets’ take a look at some of the more immediate effects of recognising valued employees.

Firstly, it’ll make them more motivated to work for you. This effect is actually quite contagious. Other employees might see that, in this organisation, effective people are recognised, and therefore strive to be more effective. Obviously, any reward of this kind will also give a powerful incentive to the person receiving it.

Handing out rewards will also bring out the naturally competitive side in your employees. Workers might compare their performance to that of the person who’s been singled out and strive to do better. It’s partly for this reason that public praise is more effective than private praise.

Finally, we should consider that positive workplaces are more fun to work in. This means that you’ll have an easier time retaining key members of staff, and that those who do remain will be more productive.

Achieving all of this isn’t just a one-off process, or even a series of them. For best results, you’ll want to create a cultural shift, so that everyone who is in a position to recognise good work feels empowered to do so.

How to create a culture of recognition and reward?

Recognition and reward should be meaningful, and should always correlate with behaviour. If you’re handing out rewards to those who don’t really deserve them, or you’re displaying favouritism, then the effect can actually be negative.

The reward should also arrive shortly after the positive contribution of the worker. If efforts are not being recognised for months, then the recognition will be considerably less effective than it would have been.

Remember also that there are many different types of appreciation, and that certain workers will be more receptive to different types than others. Have an idea of what makes each employee tick, and then hand out rewards accordingly.

You don’t have to break the bank every time you do this. Remember that a little bit of reward can go a long way, if it’s targeted and timely.