How Your Company Can Make Performance Recognition Work

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

Employees at a recognition event

Incentives and recognition work, and that’s a fact:

  • Recognition programs, which acknowledge employees who achieve a desired performance, remain a mainstay in organizations—nearly 90% of organizations have some sort of recognition program in place.
  • The perceived effect on employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction improves as more result-driven recognition programs are used.
  • Organizations with a strategic and/or embedded culture of recognition have employees with higher levels of engagement, motivation and satisfaction. Additionally, organizations leveraging result-driven recognition programs tend to experience greater overall success.

So, while we all understand logically that recognition works, why do companies tend to overthink (or worse, under-think) how to effectively do it?

It's so important to acknowledge an individual's effort that not doing so is almost as demotivating as destroying their work. Hear what Dan Ariely has to say regarding the impact of acknowledgment.

To get the most from your program, the tactical ways you reinforce positive change can’t be overlooked. Honoring and rewarding your people for a job well done is a must.

Take a look at our interview with Dan Ariely and discover how easy encouraging your people to create real performance and results should be—and the alarming trend he sees in companies treating recognition like it’s a scarce commodity.

People are complex—so is motivating them. No two individuals are motivated in exactly the same way. The trick is to match the recognition to the individual so it resonates with him or her. Looking for some inspiration? Here are a few of my top picks for showing your appreciation.

Public Recognition

For some, nothing beats recognition in front of their peers with public recognition. According to a recent WorldatWork report, email is the most common way that presentation of recognition and peer acknowledgment is accomplished. But why not think outside the email? Inspire friendly competition with a progress wall or post recognition on an internal communication channel.

Personal Recognition

On the other hand, a more personal form of recognition could be preferable. Instead of a public-facing celebration or show of acknowledgement, some people on your team may shy away from the spotlight.

Recognize your top performers for achieving performance, career, wellness, social and community goals by capitalizing on trends like a preference for experiential rewards. A special lunch to their favorite place, or a day off without using vacation time. Something socially acceptable to share can also collectively inspire and engage other members of the team.

A Combination of the Two Is Best

People are motivated differently. Some are moved more from within—intrinsically—and others are moved more by the potential for an external outcome—extrinsically. As an organization, it’s best to empower your leaders to look for cues to determine how best to motivate their team members and arm them with options for recognizing in a variety of different ways. Helping people feel valued for their contributions doesn’t have to be complex. Learn more about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation here:

Motivology, our ITA Group brand of motivation, provides a framework for identifying and balancing both the internal and external motivators needed to move a defined audience. And it gives organizations an exclusive competitive advantage.

Invest in Recognition

The organizations that view recognition and incentives as investments, not expenses, will be the most successful.

But running a strong, effective recognition or incentive program certainly isn’t accomplished by luck. Without a data-driven, analytical approach—and plenty of internal buy-in—companies will find themselves spinning their wheels. Find out more about the impact of recognition, and how to gain your employees commitment, reciprocity and trust, in our ebook with insights from social scientist and New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely.

Scaling Motivation Ebook Download Image

Christina Zurek

Christina Zurek

Christina is an experienced leader with a passion for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and workplace culture. Few things excite her as much as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar (be that a project, development opportunity, travel destination, food, drink or otherwise), though digging in to a research project is a close second.