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The Power of Recognition: How to Boost Engagement and Performance in Human Resources

The dictionary tells us that to recognize is to identify, distinguish or value a person for some or all of their characteristics, or for an activity they have carried out.

In the field of Human Resources, the power of recognition has been underestimated for decades. Rather, unconstructive criticism prevails when providing feedback to workers.

Luckily, this is changing. Companies are now more aware than ever that recognition can act as a transformative force, because motivates employees and contributes to create a much more positive and productive work environment.

Let's see what the importance of recognition is in today's work environment, and what we can do to get the most out of it.

Table of Contents

The importance of employee recognition

As we have just pointed out, publicly valuing an employee has a positive impact on both them and the entire workforce. Something that directly benefits the company.

We can affirm that recognition generates beneficial effects on:

Motivation and commitment

Working involves making physical and mental effort. When this effort is prolonged over time and the tasks to be faced are always the same or similar, demotivation occurs. That is to say, the desire to fulfill responsibilities decreases.

This causes workers to be less productive, apathetic, and lose sight of the company's priority objective.

When a person is recognized for their worth at work, they know that The effort you make is important for your company and that it is aware of it. The immediate effect is that motivation increases and The commitment to continue working and achieve the established goals is reinforced.

Performance improvement

When a person is motivated, their performance improves significantly. Because it is willing to give her best to meet the expectations she knows others have of her.

When recognizing the work of an employee both your self-esteem and self-confidence are reinforced, and this also influences performance. It's not just that you work more, it's that you also work better. That is, it gains effectiveness.

Reinforcement of positive behaviors

Reinforcing positive behaviors is a basic guideline of education. Good proof of this is that, when a child does something well, we tell him/her and congratulate him/her for it. What we achieve is that he understands that this behavior is appropriate and valued by others and, therefore, that he repeats it in the future.

With adults this positive behavior reinforcement system It works exactly the same. When in a company the efforts of certain people are recognized, or their way of working is praised, a pattern of good practices begins to be created.

The rest of the staff also wants to be valued and congratulated and, therefore, will begin to adopt those behavioral patterns that they now know are well regarded. As a result, Behaviors that are more productive and that contribute to creating a good work environment are encouraged.

Improved job satisfaction

Employees do not want to be a number, they want to be taken into account, and this is something that is achieved through recognition of their contributions. 

We have already seen that this results in a more motivated and productive workforce, and the direct consequence is that the work environment improves. Everyone is calmer and work is better. In the long run, this works like tool for attracting and retaining talent. 

The effect derived from all the above that the company saves. HE saves costs associated with absenteeism from work, and also in turnover and recruitment costs.

How to promote a culture of recognition in companies?

It is clear that there are all advantages. But organizations are not used to practicing recognition of their employees (except in very specific cases), and it is normal that they do not know very well how to do it.  

Here are some measures that can be useful to turn recognition into a perfect tool to boost employee engagement and performance:

Establish a culture of recognition

The first thing is to convert recognition into a fundamental value within the organization itself, which is part of its corporate culture. To achieve this, they must be aware of how important it is to give relevance to certain behaviors and ways of working, and implement measures that help carry out this task of valuing others.

Although the essential thing is that recognition be given vertically, from management to subordinates, in a company that has internalized the importance of recognition in its culture and values, This will also occur horizontally.. So employees of the same level will have no problem valuing the effort made by their colleagues.

Recognition programs

There are many ways to give meaning to the work a person does, and the most common is do it in public by congratulating. This can be done in a meeting, or even through a message on the company intranet.

But, in addition, it is not a bad idea for this positive feedback to be accompanied by a extra benefit. For example, a gift card or a couple of extra days off.

If the company has a recognition program, employees will know that there is more than just congratulations waiting for them if they do well.

Personalized recognition

Recognition ceases to have the value, and influence that we are seeing throughout this article, if it becomes something standardized. This happens if the company always uses the same congratulations letter.

The key to effective feedback is to make it as personalized as possible. Highlighting what that specific person has done well, giving them value as an individual.

Real-time recognition

Just as important as doing a good reconnaissance is knowing when to do it. Although many companies wait for important events such as a convention, this is not always the most advisable.

If someone does something well, it is important tell him right away. It is not necessary to organize a ceremony or complicate your life, a few words of recognition and gratitude are more than enough. A simple “good job” can do more to motivate an employee than any other more complex and costly measure.

Recognition celebration

You do not have to wait for an important event to give recognition but, once it has been given personally, you can organize an event or celebration to highlight how well one or more of the employees are doing.

Again, you don't need to plan anything complicated. It may be a informal meeting with a catering, in which public recognition is made and, in addition, all colleagues strengthen ties with each other.

This not only increases motivation, but very noticeably increases the sense of belonging within the workforce. Something that also has a positive impact when it comes to retaining talent.

Recognition training

Leaders are so unaccustomed to valuing their employees that they often don't know how to do it effectively.

It will be much easier for them to fulfill this new mission if they receive adequate training in this matter. Being able to recognize the value of others and express it is already a essential skill for new leaders.

Clear communication

When an employee sees that someone else is being congratulated, what he or she wants at that moment is know why this situation is occurring. What has that person done that deserves public recognition? 

Well-executed communication helps employees better understand why a specific person is being valued and be clear about what is expected of them. As we said before, this creates a decalogue of good practices that workers will be encouraged to follow, because everyone wants their efforts to be taken into account.

Constructive feedback

Go for recognition It does not imply leaving aside communication regarding the ways of working and the attitudes that would be advisable to improve.. In no case should this be conveyed as criticism, but rather as constructive feedback.

Which means telling the person What can you do to continue improving?. They are not “scolded” but are provided with solution options so that they can continue with their professional development.

Like all practices aimed at improving staff performance, recognition practices must be evaluated periodically to measure their effectiveness. To be able to make adjustments to them if necessary.

Recognition in companies plays a fundamental role in improving the well-being of employees and making them more productive. For this reason, organizations that implement measures that allow them to value their staff can achieve greater success, because they have a slightly easier time achieving their goals.

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