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Employee Recognition and Why it Matters


What is the most important asset in any business???  What is it that will set you apart from your competition and get you through the tough times??? What determines how happy your clients or customers are with their dealings with you? What is the essential ingredient that will determine the level of “success” in any organization?

When you start looking really closely at the factors that make businesses successful the most important factor seems to be the people in the business. Sometimes we could assume that it is the leaders at the top of the business. While this is important it might not be for the reasons we might assume…. Great vision, being able to make hard decisions, being great with numbers. What seems to matter most is the kind of culture they create within the business and how this affects the energy the people who work in that business bring to their work each day.

One of the things successful businesses do best is to build a strong and positive relationship with their people. Part of how they do this is through recognition and acknowledgement of their work. Much money and time has been spent on devising ever more complicated employee reward schemes but these are not often the answer to the problem of getting people to put in more effort. As a matter of fact there is a good deal of recent research that shows that they can even be counter productive when not well designed according to understanding how human minds ACTUALLY work. The answer is not necessarily more money!

If your most important asset is your people then it makes sense to invest in them. There is a great deal of research to indicate that the most important things you can invest are time and attention. People like to know that their work is valued, that their knowledge and effort are appreciated. The need to know that they will be supported to grow and develop, and that the organization will treat them fairly. They like to contribute and have that contribution acknowledged in small ways every day.

So…. Rather than designing a big new “recognition” scheme….. the most important place to start investing is in your supervisors , managers and leaders. They are the people who are in the best place to create the environment that will lead to increased “employee” satisfaction and, therefore, effort.

When people come to me for help they are often very distressed and disillusioned. They are often on the verge of leaving their employment. The reasons they give rarely include “they don’t pay me enough”. The most common reasons given to me for people considering leaving their positions are:

  • My employer doesn’t value my work;
  • No-one cares about the impact of this change on me or my team and there have been so many changes;
  • I feel like I am just being treated like a number;
  • They say there are plenty of people wanting your job if you leave;
  • There is no opportunity for advancement and training always goes to managers;
  • It’s just not a nice place to work.. no one is happy and no-one is dealing with the difficult issues;
  • No one is interested in what we think, we just get told what to do;
  • They are not being fair… we are all asked to do the work of 3  people but the people at the top still have all the perks.


Many companies are going to extraordinary lengths to make sure their customers are satisfied. I sometimes receive birthday cards and other small gifts from businesses in an attempt to keep me happy!! But how many businesses go to the same lengths, consistently, to make sure their employees are happy and feel valued. Happy employees are more committed, give better customer services, and will go the extra mile for your business.  But when was the last time you sent flowers to a team member who may have lost a loved one or a “get-well soon” note to a sick employee?  Are all the different areas of your organsiation sending the same message?? Maybe the team member gets a get well card from their supervisor at the same time as a threatening letter from HR about their medical certificate having expired and their pay will be stopped!! How does your organization show respect and appreciation to your people on a daily basis? Are customer complaints dealt with promptly and effectively while employee complaints are ignored or punished?

Employee recognition is not only program-based. It is all the little interactions that build the overall experience of being part of your organization. This is what will determine how the people in your organization respond to challenges when times are tough and seek to build the organization when times are good.  Successful businesses and organisations have one thing in common and that ways of showing that their people are respected and valued forms the central part of how they operate and so are also reflected in  both formal and informal ways of  rewarding  and recognizing their people.  Companies who do not get this right will keep loosing their best people and will have to deal with the costs and disruption of finding new employees while their competitors pick up their best people who leave.

Being a leader who wants  to create a big and positive impact in their business should not ignore the importance of  day to day recognition….. saying well done…. Acknowledging effort and achievement…. Supporting the development of your people.    Remember that happy employees mean happy clients and happy clients mean successful business… a very simple formula that guarantees business success.

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