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Employee recognition myths

By July 4, 2017 May 6th, 2020 No Comments

It is estimated that around 80% of companies run an employee engagement or reward and recognition program, but less than a third (30%) of employees are satisfied with these programs.

What is really surprising is that over 65% of employees state that lack of feedback or appreciation is one of the main reasons for leaving their employer, so why are so many programs failing to deliver?

Part of the problem lies with the fact that many managers confuse employee recognition with reward. They are not the same, and in fact they do not need to be linked to get the best out of your staff.

While rewards are nice, recognition, showing appreciation, and giving positive, timely feedback has been proven to have a far greater effect on employees. When employees feel respected, appreciated and valued, they are more likely to give discretionary effort, which can lead to improved productivity and increased customer service, fewer sick days and reduced employee turnover, which can have a major impact on corporate performance.

Employee engagement is important, and there are many factors involved in improving engagement. There are also a number of myths about employee engagement. Here are just three of those myths, along with the facts:

Myth. Engagement is about making employees happy. Truth. Employee engagement is about people being inspired and working smarter, more creatively and more efficiently. Although this may mean working longer hours for some, for most people the true result of engagement is greater overall contribution.

Ensure that you give your employees the opportunity to feel part of what they are doing, and have a degree of control to encourage additional and discretionary contribution.

Myth. Engagement is about extracting more from your employees.Truth. Employees are not resources you can mine. Employee engagement is about empowering and inspiring employees to willingly contribute of their own accord.

It’s a departure from the traditional command and control structure, which is why so many managers find it difficult to implement.

When employees feel valued they are much more likely to give their contribution willingly.

Myth. Disengaged workers will leave. Truth. Many disengaged employees will stay, but will experience burn out. Burnout can be a prime symptom of disengagement. It is not just working hard and feeling overwhelmed. It’s where an employee actually feels detached and depersonalised from their work. They are on auto pilot, emotionally spent with high levels of anxiety. Disengaged workers may decline to share information and passively sabotage everyone around them.

Disengaged workers can be toxic, so it is important to identify these employees, and if you cannot turn them around, help them to find a new role elsewhere that will benefit them and you.

As already stated, recognition is far more effective than rewards, although a reward can play a vital role. A meaningful reward (a product, service or experience, and not cash) is more likely to have a trophy value which will be remembered for a long time and is likely to result in a repeat of the behaviour that has been recognised. However, be sure not to get stuck in the “carrot and stick” scenario. That is “do this, get that.” In the long run that doesn’t work.

When giving employees positive feedback, it is important to remember the following:

  1. Be timely – the sooner you recognise someone the more impactful it is 
  2. Be specific – it’s not a “thank you” that your employees want, it’s that you noticed their work or contribution 
  3. Do it publicly – most people like to be recognised in front of their peers, but be mindful that some don’t, and one on one feedback will have far more impact on these employees

Brownie Points is a rapidly growing organisation with international business partners focused on improving employee engagement. To learn how we could help your business, call us today on 03 9909 7411 for a no obligation discussion, or email us at to receive your information pack on how to improve employee engagement .


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