How to create a powerful employee recognition culture

A positive work environment has many benefits, from increased efficiency to improved employee morale. The business's productivity depends on its employees, but many factors can impact workplace positivity and how employers encourage positive behavior in the workplace.


A business's culture is probably one of the most critical drivers of positivity. It's essential that employees feel well-informed and that their work directly contributes to company goals. They should also often feel that their feedback and contributions are valued. If employees consistently exhibit positive behavior, customer satisfaction rates, productivity, and culture will likely improve.


When you value employees' hard work and contributions, it's essential to show appreciation. Rewarding employees can include anything from a simple note to providing financial incentives, and you can show appreciation as often as you want.


Employee recognition might be one of the most powerful tools as a manager can have

Employee recognition is one of the greatest tools for managers to engage, motivate and reward employees. When done correctly, recognition can create a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. As a leader, you define the culture, establish the norms for how things are done, and reinforce the behaviors that lead to success.


According to Harvard Business Review, recognition makes people feel valued. Compliments have been shown to mitigate the negative effects of stress on employee performance. Simple actions, such as verbal acknowledgment of work in progress, can be a great motivator and put wind in an employees' sails when they need it. Scientists have revealed that verbal affirmations are processed in the brain similarly to financial rewards.




Expressing appreciation and giving recognition might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering business leader duties. Still, recognition has been shown to impact business results directly. Giving sincere praise and recognition has many benefits for the individual, team, and organization, especially in a remote and hybrid work setting. It creates a positive workplace climate with higher levels of trust, improved problem-solving and innovation, and a positive influence on the customer experience and net promoter score.


What are the best ways to give recognition?


According to Tamara Valenčič, Independent strategic HRM consultant, the companies are using different tools and practices to remain connected, to keep the teams running and work done. But the endeavors are not reaching the expected targets unless the companies are not having the culture of transparency, open communication, and recognition established from before. The phrase "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," originated by Peter Drucker, reminds us that any company disconnecting the two puts their success at risk.


As Tamara says, "words are the best tools for building solid connections, just as substantial as personal proximity. Especially in dispersed teams and remote work, this human touch is more important than ever. The most effective way of recognition is peer-to-peer approval, appraisal, or mention. Meaningful expressions of appreciation are often described as timely, relevant, and sincere, and phrases that come off as hollow can be worse than not saying thanks at all."


Why is giving recognition among team members also important?


Many organizations have different ways that allow peers to highlight each other's efforts. Still, effective forms of recognition usually are given by senior leaders. But managers need to be alert when giving recognition to everyone on a team. Sometimes a group's performance does not reflect equal contributions from all its members, and they can be at the risk of alienating high performers if everyone receives the same recognition.


Team managers give direction, feedback, and development opportunities and officially estimate employee performance, which is excellent and yet expected. But a leader will also always appreciate kudos from their team members, identifying a specific example or occasion when they felt their manager treated a person or situation in a fair and unbiased way.


"If a manager is recognized by team members publicly, it becomes noticeable, and leader can become a role model in the broader sense. The message, the deed, and the value impact multiply," Tamara says.



How does recognition convey company values?


When you give an employee recognition, you can motivate many, not just one person, and doing it well becomes part of your brand and makes you a leader for whom people want to do their best. Tamara Valenčič says the best way to strengthen the values the company wants to put in life is to recognize behaviors that define them. And the best way to stimulate these is by identifying role models who live upon them.


The following elements of an enlightened workplace can serve to give structure and context around a culture of recognition:


  • Joy: People love to be noticed and appreciated for their work and who they are as a person. Recognition makes people feel happy.


  • Progress: Companies that recognize people who embody behaviors that support the company's success reinforce a culture of progress.


  • Value: Recognition acknowledges the unique talents and value that people bring to the table and validates those contributions.


  • Meaning: Recognition brings sense to an accomplishment by showing how one individual's work contributed to the greater good and the company's success.


  • Safety: Many organizations treat safety as a core value. When that is recognized, it is reinforced.


  • Care: Recognition facilitates a culture of appreciation by showing everyone that their excellent work is always noticed.


  • Respect: Recognition touches the core human need to be appreciated and have one's efforts noticed.



According to Tamara Valenčič, regardless of the workplace setting, the words of appraisal, acknowledgment, and approval should reach all team members. By that, they get a clear picture of how well they work as a team, and most importantly, it gives them purpose and a feeling of belonging.


Whether your team works on-site or remotely, recognizing and celebrating wins can become your favorite way to express appreciation. Our Kudos feature will help boost positive reinforcement within your team and motivate team members to give each other more recognition publicly or privately. Sign up for a free demo here and achieve your company's goals by building team spirit and rewarding participation.




  1. Harvard Business Review - A simple compliment can make a big difference

  2. Harvard Business Review - Employees need both recognition and appreciation

  3. Harvard Business Review - The little things that employees feel appreciated

  4. HR Magazine - Employees go underappreciated in pandemic

  5. Indeed - Show appreciation to employees

  6. Indeed - Cultivating positive workplace behavior

  7. Jemini - Employee recognition managers deserve love too

  8. Roico - Employee recognition may be one of your most powerful tools as a manager

  9. Supplychain247 - Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner

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