giving recognition

It is a fundamental aspect of human nature that we appreciate that our efforts are acknowledged. Yet, in business, the value of  giving recognition  is underestimated. Recognising the efforts and accomplishments of colleagues in the workplace is not just a nicety; it’s a fundamental aspect of fostering a positive and productive work environment.

Giving recognition is a simple way for organisations to demonstrate their investment in and commitment to their employees, and it also makes good business sense. A recent Gallup poll found that “…strategic employee recognition – that is, recognition that is fulfilling, authentic, equitable, embedded in company culture, and personalised to the individual – is critical for cultivating an environment where both employees and the business thrive”.

When we feel valued and appreciated for our contributions, it boosts morale and enhances motivation and engagement across the board. It also models a behaviour that can have a positive impact on workplace culture, if replicated by others.

A culture of appreciation

Acknowledging the hard work of others helps to create a culture of appreciation and respect within the business. We all need recognition, so when people know that their efforts are noticed and valued by their peers and superiors, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and satisfaction in their roles. This, in turn, can lead to increased loyalty and commitment to the organisation’s goals and objectives.

Giving recognition can serve as a powerful motivator, inspiring colleagues to continue striving for excellence in their work. Whether it’s a simple “thank you” or a more formal recognition program, acknowledging achievements sends a clear message that the organisation values and rewards hard work and dedication.

When the habit of giving recognition is sincere, both the giver and receiver benefit significantly. For the giver, offering genuine appreciation enhances leadership skills, fosters positive relationships, and promotes self-awareness and personal growth. It also brings a sense of fulfillment and contributes to a positive reputation within the organisation. 

On the other hand, the receiver experiences increased motivation, job satisfaction, and self-confidence when their efforts are acknowledged. Genuine praise reinforces their sense of value and purpose, leading to improved performance and overall happiness in their role.

On the receiving end

In Western cultures, accepting recognition and compliments can be challenging. Ingrained societal norms and individual personality characteristics tend to inhibit acceptance of praise. 

Modesty is often valued, and some people feel uncomfortable drawing attention to themselves or appearing vain; there’s a fear of being perceived as insincere or undeserving, so we tend to downplay accomplishments. Psychologically, some people feel that accepting praise graciously will leave them feeling indebted or obligated in return. 

These factors combine to create a cultural context where accepting recognition and compliments can feel uncomfortable or even awkward for many people.

But it is important to be able to accept thanks and recognition with grace. It demonstrates humility, encourages positive interactions, and strengthens relationships with colleagues. 

How to respond to thanks

A simple way to respond to recognition is by expressing genuine appreciation for the acknowledgement while also acknowledging the contributions of others who may have played a role in the success being recognised. For example, with something like, “Thankyou. I really appreciate that you took the trouble to mention it. I couldn’t have achieved this without the support and collaboration of my team.”

In summary, giving recognition to others at work is vital for fostering a positive and supportive work environment, boosting morale, and motivating individuals to excel. 

Likewise, being able to accept thanks and recognition with grace is important for maintaining positive relationships and reinforcing a culture of appreciation within the organisation.

Benefits for the employer

Employee morale: Recognising the efforts of employees boosts morale, leading to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

Enhanced productivity: Employees who feel appreciated are more motivated to perform at their best, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency.

Improved teamwork: Recognising individual contributions fosters a culture of collaboration and teamwork, leading to better cooperation and communication among team members.

Employee engagement: Recognition reinforces a sense of purpose and belonging, leading to greater engagement and commitment to organizational goals.

Reduced absenteeism: Employees who feel valued and appreciated are less likely to call in sick or miss work, leading to fewer disruptions and increased productivity.

Retention of talent: A culture of recognition makes the organization more attractive to potential employees and helps retain top talent, reducing recruitment and training costs.

Benefits for the individual

Psychological benefits: Learning how to accept positive things that are said about us benefits us psychologically. Many of us have been schooled to be modest, keep a low profile and not stand out, but this runs counter to the basic human need to be recognised and valued. When we accept that others appreciate our efforts, the more it can benefit our belief about ourselves.

Increased motivation: Genuine and sincere acknowledgement for their efforts motivates people to continue striving for excellence and taking on new challenges. If you doubt this, consider how you feel when your efforts are not acknowledged.

Improved self-esteem: Recognition validates individuals’ contributions and boosts their confidence and self-esteem, leading to greater job satisfaction and personal fulfilment.

Strengthened relationships: Accepting thanks and recognition with grace fosters positive relationships with colleagues and superiors, leading to a supportive and collaborative work environment.

Advancement opportunities: Recognition for outstanding performance can lead to career advancement opportunities, such as promotions or salary increases, helping individuals achieve their professional goals.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.