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Why Recognition is Important — and How to Create a Culture of Recognition at Work

The profound impact of feeling recognized is undeniable. Whether it is a simple ‘thank you’ or something more significant, being appreciated validates our existence and tells us that we matter. It’s fuel for the human soul, and when we are recognized, we feel happy, supported, and inspired.

When it comes to work, recognition is known as a strong driver of motivation. In fact, a recent report on workplace recognition found that it has the power to increase engagement, performance, and productivity by as much as 14%. What’s more, it also states that upon receiving recognition, 92% of workers are likely to repeat the action that earned them the praise.

What is recognition on a holistic level, and how can it be most effectively applied in the working world?

Recognition Defined

Studies show that the need for social approval is one of the strongest drivers of human behavior. In other words, we are hardwired to crave acknowledgement from others. While there are different forms that appreciation can take, recognition is generally defined as the acknowledgement of someone’s worth or value.

When we are recognized, we feel appreciated and valued for our contributions. It is a sign that we are doing something right, and that our efforts are being noticed.

In the workplace, recognition can come in many forms, from formal awards or bonuses to more informal gestures like a ‘good job’ ping from a manager. Whatever form it takes, recognition is a powerful tool that can boost employee morale, motivation, and performance.

How Recognition Helps Foster a Sense of Belonging in The Workplace

A sense of belonging is essential for employee wellbeing, and recognition is one of the most effective ways to foster it. Vityl defines belonging as the feeling of being accepted for who you are, recognized for your unique contributions, and connected to people and purpose. Feeling recognized helps employees feel like there’s value in the work they do and they directly contribute to the company’s success and vision.

Vityl’s landmark research found that employees who feel a strong sense of belonging are more likely to be engaged and productive at work. They are also more likely to stay with their company for longer.

The Importance of Recognizing Both Individual Contributions and Value

In attempting to recognize their staff, many organizations fail to see the difference between an individual’s contributions and their value to the workplace. This is an important thing to discern, as the two are not always the same and need to go hand in hand to truly make employees feel appreciated.

A person’s contributions are the tasks they complete, the goals they achieve, and the objectives they meet. They are measurable and tangible, and they can be seen and quantified.

A person’s value to an organization is more difficult to measure. It is the intangible, personal qualities that they bring to the table. It is their attitude, their work ethic, their dedication, and their passion. It is the things that make them who they are, and it is what makes them valuable to the organization.

When recognizing employees, it is important to consider both their contributions and their value. Acknowledging both will help employees feel appreciated and valued for who they are and what they do.

Common Barriers Faced by Organizations in Trying to Create a Culture of Recognition

Organizations big and small can benefit from creating a culture of recognition. But while the benefits are clear, there can be some challenges faced in trying to achieve this. Here are some of the most common barriers.

Lack of Awareness

One of the biggest barriers is simply that many organizations are not aware of the importance of recognition. They may see it as something that is costly (because of rewards like gift cards or spot bonuses) and not worth their time or resources.

Lack of Personalization

Recognition is not one size fits all. Some prefer public recognition – like a shout-out in a department all-hands – while others prefer private recognition. Some prefer face-to-face recognition, while others would prefer it in writing. Acknowledging people is great, but it’s important to learn their preferences to ensure the recognition is impactful and personal.

Lack of Communication

Another common barrier is a lack of communication between management and employees. This can make it difficult to gauge what kind of recognition employees would appreciate, and it can also make it harder to implement and maintain a recognition program.

Ways Organizations Can Effectively Propagate Recognition in Their Workplace

Despite the challenges, there are many ways that organizations can overcome these barriers and create a culture of recognition.

Shout Out the Little Things

We typically reward major accomplishments – like a promotion or closing a big deal – but what about the smaller stuff? Think about the effort people put in to running weekly meetings, managing deliverables, or going the extra mile to help colleagues and make those actions the center of your recognition.

Set Clear Expectations

It might sound weird, but one of the best ways to ensure that employees are recognized for their efforts is to set clear expectations from the outset. Let employees know what you expect from them and let them know how their performance will be measured. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and it will make it easier to identify opportunities for recognition.

Help Employees Understand their Impact

Take the time to help people see the impact of their work on larger company objectives. When employees feel like they’re contributing to the bigger picture, they’re more likely to feel like a valued, important part of the team and organization.

Encourage Celebrations

Another way to create a culture of recognition is to encourage timely recognition. Make sure people have the platform they need to recognize and thank each other, whether it’s in person or using technology.

Looking to create a culture of recognition but not sure where to start? Vityl empowers people to recognize colleagues using assessments and light nudges, ensuring recognition is personalized, impactful, and in the flow of work. Try Vityl at your organization to foster stronger feelings of belonging, performance, and connection!

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