The Power of Recognition for Retention

Recognition is a vital component for success and retention in any organization. Yet, 81% of leaders say recognition isn’t a major strategic priority for their company.  

To create an engaging work environment, employers and HR leaders must create purpose in people’s work and use the tools and resources available, including the underutilized practice of employee recognition. 

Recognition improves mental and social well-being, among other personal benefits. And in the workplace, employees who are recognized report being 73% less burnt out, 4x more likely to feel like they belong, and 44% more likely to thrive in their overall life, illustrating the role recognition plays within an organization.  

To ensure the success of a recognition strategy, it’s important to understand what recognition is, what makes it so impactful, and how managers can use it to inspire and motivate their employees. 

Praising others will help them and you.

At Aduro, one of our core values is to Delight Others. This includes not only delighting our clients and their employees with exceptional services and products, but also creating a culture of happiness and recognition internally.

We believe that recognition is the key to a happy and productive workforce. Likewise, if you recognize the greatness in others, you too are ultimately happier.

Research shows that recognition and happiness go hand-in-hand. And when recognition is lacking, employee happiness suffers. Teams who regularly recognize peers and efforts across the organization report higher happiness scores through our recognition tool.

Shawn Achor, a Happiness Researcher and author of Big Potential talks about the Happiness Advantage and how by expressing gratitude to others, we boost our own happiness. This isn’t a new concept. But it’s a great reminder to reflect on our work behaviors. For instance, when was the last time you positively recognized a coworker? How did it feel?

The Psychology of Recognition

Humans are social creatures, and recognition is a crucial component of our social interactions. It’s no surprise that we feel good after receiving or giving praise, recognition, and appreciation. What’s often more surprising is the effect recognition can have in the workplace and what happens when you fail to receive praise.

When you’re giving praise, it expands the potential of the person receiving praise, and they become more resilient. They are more open to receiving feedback and creating action from that feedback. They start recognizing their accomplishments and finding more purpose in their work. In turn, those who give praise ultimately feel better and are more motivated in their work. Recognition — whether given or received — is a win-win.

When you don’t receive praise, your brain assumes criticism of your work. A chemical release shuts down the executive function of our brain, impacting our ability to meet goals, maintain focus, and exercise self-control. This also makes us start looking for things that aren’t going well and fixate on them. There’s a chemical release that shuts down the executive function of our brain. This makes us start looking for things that aren’t going well.

The Power of Recognition

In acknowledging people’s work and celebrating individual successes, employees are more likely to stay at your company for the long haul.  

A Gallup/Workhuman survey revealed that workers at organizations that prioritize employee appreciation are 56% less likely to seek a new job. And organizations with comprehensive recognition programs are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes. 

Conversely, a lack of employee recognition can damage a company’s workforce. Employees who feel unrecognized for their efforts are less likely to innovate and bring forward new ideas, limiting company growth and success.  

A 2022 survey of 2,000 Americans in the job market reported that 46% of respondents had left a job because they felt unappreciated, revealing a concerning connection between lack of recognition and employee turnover. 

This speaks volumes to not only the positive impact recognition can have on employee engagement and well-being but – more concerningly – how employee retention truly suffers without it. Managers and HR leaders can leverage employee recognition strategies to boost retention efforts – and it can be done in simple ways.  

Tips for Giving Recognition

  • Be authentic. Empty praise can destroy trust. So, rather than just saying, “Good job”, explain why their efforts were significant or impactful. Give recognition with undivided attention and a concerted effort, making the praise meaningful and impactful.
  • Avoid comparison praise at the expense of someone else or a person’s past experiences. For example, if you say, “That was the best presentation you’ve ever done!” Does that mean the last presentation wasn’t really that great?
  • Promote extension praise. Rather than only showering praise on the leader of the project, remember to include those that held support roles or contributed behind the scenes. This also helps create a sense of unity and teamwork.
  • Acknowledge their efforts. Explain why you thought the work was exceptional and acknowledge the time and energy necessary to complete the work.
  • Be timely. Recognize your employees at the right time and as soon as possible so it feels genuine and relevant. Don’t let your praise lose meaning by waiting too long to give it. That can make it seem like an afterthought or minimize its importance.

Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be validated, to be appreciated.

Steven Covey

To learn other ways you can increase employee retention, check out this blog article or explore how Aduro can help reengage your workforce. And now, go out and recognize the greatness around you!  

Hear more from Shawn Achor during a TEDx talk.