How Employee Recognition Programs Can Foster An Engaged Workforce

How Employee Recognition Programs Can Foster An Engaged Workforce

Appreciation and recognition are fundamental human needs in personal and professional spaces alike. In fact, recent research, 52.5% of employees want more recognition from their immediate line manager.

Employee recognition can be achieved in two ways i.e. by implementing structured and unstructured programs. Structured programs are generally built around a defined timeline with specific criteria and all employees are eligible to participate in such programs. This can be something as simple as ‘Employee of the Month’, ‘Highest Revenue Generator of the month/quarter/year’ etc. Unstructured recognition programs are initiatives that acknowledge and appreciate work in real time. For instance, publicly appreciating an employee that went above and beyond for a customer or client. Authentically recognising behaviour in real time reinforces the preferred behaviours and incentivizes employees to keep it up. By incorporating Employee Recognition Programs into the culture of the organisation, the business can reap the following benefits:

1. Increases Employee Retention

Increases Employee Retention

As per recent research conducted by Deloitte, organisations with recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover than those without. In fact, the number 1 reason most people leave their jobs is lack of recognition. That being said, you don’t need a formal recognition program to make employees feel valued and appreciated. You can do this during one-to-one meetings, team huddles or even by taking the team out for a celebratory meal. It is often misunderstood that employees change jobs solely because of an increase in salary. While this may be true in some instances, more often than not, employees remain loyal and committed if they feel valued by their leadership.

2. Motivate Employees

Motivate Employees

Engaged employees are always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for the business that they are part of. According to Deloitte, organisations with sophisticated recognition programs are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes. Recognition must be included in frequent performance conversations to help cement the importance of employee recognition in company culture. In the absence of a formal recognition program, a great way to build recognition into the culture is also to tie recognition to company values. When employees demonstrate living the values, make extra efforts to acknowledge it publicly. Employees often feel a greater sense of pride knowing that others are aware of their achievements. In addition, it also helps other team members to understand how each individual and team contributes to the bigger picture.

3. Enhances Productivity

Enhances Productivity

The productivity of your workforce is strongly correlated to how connected they feel to the organisation. When employees are appreciated, productivity increases. It is as simple as that. As per a recent survey conducted by SHRM Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, organisations with recognition programs in place experience 28.6% lower frustration levels than those without. However, recognition should not be limited to final goal achievement. Recognising micro-moments on a regular basis, such as, quality work, going above and beyond to support the team, taking on additional tasks must also be promoted.

4. Promotes Happiness in the Workplace

Promotes Happiness in the Workplace

It is a well-known fact that good health, especially mental health, affects all aspects of one’s life including one’s output at their place of employment. Since the average employee spends a minimum of 8 to 10 hours at his/her workplace, organisations that create a workplace which supports positive mental health can expect better business outcomes. Employees who feel appreciated and valued feel a sense of belonging to an organisation. Recognition initiatives, therefore, once again strongly contributes to happier employees. Employees who are engaged are much happier, and it reflects in their work. The feeling of dissatisfaction grows when no one recognises or identifies your efforts towards your work. This discontentment can make employees very upset and depressed in some cases. They lose their will to come to work, negatively affecting their work performance. When managers start rewarding and complimenting their employees, they will see a positive change in the employee’s moods, which will benefit the company in the long run.


While the ‘what’ of recognition is important, the ‘how’ makes all the difference. It is important for managers to understand what drives their employees and recognise accordingly. For instance, while some employees value public praise, others might prefer a commendation email copied to the senior management. It is also important to understand that recognition does not always have to be top-down i.e. from the line manager to the team member; it can be peer-to-peer.

It is an open secret that the success of a business lies hugely with the performance of the workforce. Employee turnover can cause you a huge financial loss and reduce business profitability. Engaged employees perform better on all counts of measurements of success and therefore, this must remain at the heart of all HR Strategies. Therefore, building recognition into the DNA of your company culture is a simple, yet extremely effective way to ensure you nuture an engaged team.