Praising Employees. Is It Really That Difficult?

Recognition. Recognition. Oh, recognition.

When has recognition gone too far? And by too far, I simply mean, when is it no longer genuine? Many studies show that we like to feel appreciated and valued for the work we do. If we feel valued then in “theory” we should feel more engaged which in return will make us work harder. And if we are engaged then – BAM, productivity rises.

I guess this seems pretty straight forward, but what happens when recognition is no longer genuine or happens too often? Folks have the tendency to recognize their associates for every little thing they do. “You came to work today! Here’s a cookie.”  When this happens, and I’ve seen it happen often, recognition loses it’s meaning.

According to a Gallup in, In Praise of Praising Your Employees, recognition should happen every 7 days. This makes sense. It means we are continuously being re-engaged into the work we are doing. But, as I said before, the key is to be genuine. I don’t want to be recognized for work that doesn’t make a difference, nor do others. If someone goes above and beyond, recognize them. If that happens, they will continue to go above and beyond. This isn’t brain science.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that I feel passionately about this subject but let’s be real, how difficult is recognition? Recognition does not need to be a big parade. In fact, many people would prefer that it is not. Small gestures go a long way. I’ve received numerous thank you cards for working on a project, or going above and beyond, and it makes a huge difference in how I feel about my work.

Many companies also have official recognition programs. We just revamped ours and it’s been really great. We have an annual program where we give out “excellence” awards. I really love it because everyone who is nominated is recognized but then the winners of the official awards also get recognized in a big way.

I personally want to know more about what organizations are doing around recognition – so what do you do? Let’s call this best practice sharing. The more I can learn, the better.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Cindy Janovitz

Cindy Janovitz works for a great Fortune 500 company in Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Cindy has a passion for working with and helping people and a love for organizational culture. Three words Cindy uses to describe herself are energetic, passionate, and driven. You can connect with Cindy on Twitter as @cindyelizabeth



Recognition is very important to everyone and can have many different meanings to both individuals and corporations. It can mean recognition with some kind of reward attached (monetary or non-monetary); it can be private or public; it can be to an individual or group; or it could be acknowledging that someone is going through a tough time and offering some help or encouragement. I guess my point is that you can have the best formal recognition programs on the planet, but what people appreciate most from leaders/managers is a genuine acknowledgement for their accomplishments in their positions and knowing them well enough to recognize/reward them in the manner that best meets their needs.

Papitha Cader

Dear Cindy,
I personally want to know more about what organizations are doing around recognition – so what do you do? – Yes, recognition plays an important role in everyone’s life and I also understand that they are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.
I wanted to share my thoughts with you!
Recogintion and Motivation –
Are they interrelated?
Why do we recognize employees when they do a great Job. It’s a way to motivate them. Won’t you agree with me on this? So now, What motivates employees is my next question?
i) Monetary benefits and/or non-monetary benefits
ii) Can non-monetary employee benefits be as efficient or effective as monetary incentives?

Thank you!
Papitha Cader

Lyn Hoyt

Great post Cindy. I like to site an example of genuine recognition that our products utilize, specifically for non-profits and donor recognition. Make sure the piece is personal. Use a photo. Include your marketing department and have the piece professionally designed. As in the case of the American Red Cross we use actual photos from the disaster of people receiving aid. We don’t use stock photos. The product design shows a genuine representations of how a donors money impacts individual victims of disaster. I always see our products like dimensional framed thank you notes. It is the personal touch that brings genuine sentiment and meaning. When you achieve meaning that connects with the recipient you have a great recognition piece.


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