Talent Management • 3 min reading

The Importance of Recognition and Appreciation

Are you doing a good job? Do your colleagues and superiors notice? If so, how do you know? Do you feel you need more recognition at work? It’s important to note that lack of recognition is the second most common cause of stress in the workplace, while appreciation and recognition help build a positive, motivating, and engaging environment for employees. Recognition also helps to increase self-confidence among employees and to enhance a feeling of being in the right place. This is especially important in these times of labour shortages, where the turnover rate tends to be high.

A few facts

According to a recent survey, 42% of Quebec workers versus 60% of workers in the United States feel they receive little or no recognition at work. These numbers are high, especially when you consider that recognition is one of the primary drivers of engagement.

A study conducted by Great Place to Work® found that 37% of employees surveyed believe that receiving more personal recognition at work would encourage them to produce better work, more often. In addition, when recognition is part of the corporate culture, employees feel that promotions are more justified, which leads to increased innovation on their part and a desire to excel at work.

Appreciation, on the other hand, motivates employees more than fear. A 2013 Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey found that 81% of employees are willing to work harder when managers show them appreciation, compared to 38% when managers are more demanding.

The difference between recognition and appreciation

While both appreciation and recognition foster a sense of loyalty and a sense of belonging to an organization, there’s a big difference between them. Recognition is related to what a person does while appreciation is about acknowledging the person.

Once this distinction is made, we understand that recognition is the validation of actions, of the work done. It emphasizes the employee’s contribution to the organization, which gives meaning to their work, and expresses a certain confidence in their abilities.

However, appreciation at work shouldn’t be overlooked as it also has a great impact on employee engagement. While recognition is conditional, appreciation highlights a person’s inherent worth. It also allows for more connection. This means that both recognition and appreciation are important to an organization and even more important to employees.

When and how do we express our appreciation?

Recognition must first be based on authenticity. A good word, if not sincere, is generally felt as such, completely missing the intention. Secondly, acknowledgment must also accurately emphasize the reason why it’s being expressed, otherwise it may be perceived as false.

Recognition, like appreciation, must also be expressed by the right people. While immediate managers are often the focus, the input of clients and colleagues shouldn’t be overlooked. By making recognition an important part of your organizational culture, these affirmations will become more natural and will be more easily received.

Recognition must be shown at the right time. If a simple thank you can be offered spontaneously, then the recognition that follows after significant effort has been made, following a specific achievement, when certain milestones have been reached or when expectations have been exceeded, is truly appreciated. Thus, recognition can become an important performance lever if it’s based on a harmonious relationship.

Recognition may be material or non-material, financial or non-financial. It can take the form of a practice (such as saying thank you and congratulating employees) or be part of a program.

The practice of recognition has a 60% positive impact on engagement (based on good relationships) while a recognition program only has a 21% positive impact on engagement. This doesn’t mean that recognition programs should be abolished, but it may be a sign that they need to be re-evaluated on a regular basis.

What about appreciation?

Appreciation is also central to maintaining a positive work environment. A Glassdoor survey found, many years ago, that 53% of respondents said that if their manager showed more appreciation, they would stay with the company longer, even though 68% said their boss shows enough appreciation.

How do you show appreciation? First and foremost, it’s important to listen to what people have to say. Ask them how they’re doing, sincerely and with real interest. This shows that you care about them and is all the more important given the context of a pandemic.

Then, by highlighting what you value most about the person, relationships will become stronger and team spirit greater.

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