What’s the Value of Positive Recognition?

What’s the Value of Positive Recognition?

Ever feel like your hard work and effort goes unnoticed? You’re not alone there. People all over the country are feeling the same way, unappreciated and undervalued, and the problem is becoming expensive. The absence of positive recognition has been costing businesses way more than they think, and it’s time for a change. For supervisors and managers in charge of employees, the ability to spread a little validation might just become a critical skill that keeps their companies one step ahead of the competition.

Did you know the top two reasons employees quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued by their company or their manager? That’s according to a 2023 Gallup study of employee engagement trends. Furthermore, only about 1 in 3 employees reported receiving any kind of recognition or praise for doing good work over the past week.

That’s a staggeringly low figure for something so small, so easy, and yet so vital. Telling an employee, “Hey, good job,” costs nothing and only takes a quick moment to accomplish. But it’s becoming a habit many business leaders are forgoing, much to their unrealized detriment.


Why is Praise So Important?

Positive recognition and praise are valuable things in the workplace because of the way they impact the human mind and help drive employee engagement. It’s simply chemistry, at the root of it all. When a person gets a compliment, they get a small hit of dopamine in the brain. This feels like a boost, and it can make a person feel satisfied, motivated, and even happy.

More importantly though is the way these feelings of happiness and contentment affect productivity. There’s been several studies about this link conducted throughout the past few years, and although the numbers differ somewhat, each study generally indicates that happy employees work harder. For example, the University of Oxford found that happy workers are 13% more productive. Their research found these people worked faster, made more calls per hour, and even made more sales conversions.

That means a little bit of praise could bring in more profit. A no-brainer for any company, but the benefits actually continue even further.


Praise Over Pay? Really.

Employee retention is perhaps the biggest area where positive recognition makes a true difference for companies. Most people might naturally assume higher compensation would lead to higher job satisfaction, and thus greater retention. But that is surprisingly not the case. People are searching for that sense of value and purpose, which research shows is overwhelmingly favored over pay.

It might sound unbelievable, but a study from the Achievers Workforce Institute earlier this year found that 79% of workers would stay at a job where they feel valued over a job where they don’t feel valued but are paid 30% more.

Furthermore, two-thirds of the HR leaders that were part of this study said their labor shortage issues are worsening this year. One of the main things they’re prioritizing to engage and retain talent is employee recognition and rewards programs. About 40% of the responding HR leaders said they plan to prioritize positive recognition this year.

The craziest thing about all of this data is that praise literally costs nothing. Turnover, however, is seriously expensive. Rather than investing in bigger compensation packages, all companies really need to do is incorporate a little more kudos into their routines. It’s cost free, incredibly easy, and highly effective for keeping employees happy.

(Side note – kind of funny – when double checking the definition of “kudos” for this article, the dictionary example actually said, “She was looking for kudos rather than profit.” So, there you have it. Even the dictionary sees the importance of praise.)


How Much Should We Praise?

There isn’t exactly a quota on how often business leaders should praise their employees for good work, but there is a general consensus that it should be regular and authentic. Experts suggest that small gestures on a frequent basis have a bigger impact than some kind of forced schedule for positive recognition.

In other words, a casual “well done” a couple of times a month is all a supervisor really needs to do to boost employee job satisfaction. Just make sure the praise is meaningful and genuine.


Great Job!

When management recognizes their employees in positive ways, companies stand to make a much stronger profit. All it takes are a few kind words and brief moments to make an employee feel appreciated. In return, businesses will get better retention, more productive workers, and much greater job satisfaction throughout their ranks. It really works, give it a try. And by the way, you’re doing a great job.

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