On the Importance of Awards and Recognition

The main reason people leave a job is due to “limited recognition and praise”. It's the little things that matter, so it’s not as hard as you might think to implement simple ways to ensure they feel appreciated.

There are some industries that seem to offer participants much more than just monetary rewards – there are ample opportunities to receive accolades, awards and recognition.

Of course, I’m thinking in particular about sports and the performing arts.

But for the vast majority of the population, the last time they received any formal recognition was when they were awarded their camping badge as a boy scout or girl guide!

Humans run on feelings. Did you know that the main reason people leave a job is due to “limited recognition and praise”? This clearly demonstrates the importance of praise and recognition to our happiness and well-being!

The Power of Praise

There is plenty of research to support the importance of awards and recognition. For example, The American Economic Journal reported on a study which demonstrated strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition. In the UK, health and safety awards are used to motivate the workforce. Recipients of a teaching award agreed that the win inspired them to further build on and enhance their skills.

Here is the main reason why I think it’s important to show gratitude and recognition to those in our teams – it makes people happy.

  • And we know that happy people are healthier;

  • Happy people are more productive;

  • Happy people are less likely to leave;

  • Happy people work better in teams;

  • And happy teams attract the best talent;

All of which are of benefit for the workplace or organisation!

What Sort of Recognition?

It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood-style fancy awards night – or even a gold star chart like you might see in a school classroom.

While official awards and recognition programs such as employee of the month might be one way to build a positive culture in your team or organisation, it can be much simpler than that.

Nor does it have to be a monetary bonus.

It could be:

  • Investing in people and their professional development;

  • Promoting from within;

  • A thank you email;

  • A gift card;

  • A shout out in the organisational newsletter;

  • A month in the prime parking spot;

  • Sharing a positive review or compliment received from a customer;

  • Or just greeting team members with a smile in the morning, and thanking them for their contribution at the end of the day.

One fellow I know in a big organisation, has a habit of leaving a chocolate bar with a post it note of thanks on a colleague’s desk, if they have gone above and beyond to help. A little gesture that goes a long way!

What to Recognise

In the same way, while it’s always good to celebrate the big things – like a target met, specific achievement, or milestone – it’s also important to appreciate the everyday. Our lives are filled with monotonous goodness! We tend to take things for granted, so it’s important to recognise the “ordinary” when the ordinary itself, is pretty darn good!

It all comes down to deciding the qualities and characteristics you particularly want to promote and nurture in your team or organisation (for example, a positive attitude); and providing positive reinforcement through appreciation and recognition.

As leaders, if we want to create a positive culture in our team or workplace – we can’t afford to ignore the importance of awards and recognition!

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