Closing the Gap in Employee Recognition

Devin Ferreira | June 2, 2016

performance_incentives-1.jpgRecently, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published a report on job satisfaction. The report included the results of a survey of 600 U.S. employees that was conducted between November and December of 2015. What’s interesting from a performance improvement perspective is that one of the key measurements in the survey involved employee recognition in the workplace. More specifically, it looked at whether or not and to what degree U.S. employees were satisfied with their management’s recognition of their performances, as well as how important this feature of their job was to them.

The findings of this study revealed that a significant percentage of employees (48%) consider recognition to be “very important” with an additional 43% considering it “important.” When taken together, this suggests that 91% of employees find recognition of their performance to be an important part of their everyday job satisfaction, almost as important as the actual work itself (92%). This study reinforces the idea that recognition is a significant factor in determining motivation and employee engagement, both of which are vital to performance improvement and can be addressed through a well-conceived and executed incentive program.

And yet, despite these study findings (and many others), there still seems to be something of a disconnect between how important recognition is and how well organizations actually do it. In fact, of the 30+ contributing factors to job satisfaction, recognition—or lack thereof—produced one of the largest gaps between perceived importance and perceived satisfaction. In other words, despite the fact that nearly 91% of respondents claimed that recognition was important to them, only 26% admitted to being “very satisfied” with the form that that recognition took within their organization.

How, then, can this gap be closed? How can this untapped employee engagement be realized? Based on the data, utilizing a more holistic approach to engagement and recognition programs is a great place for organizations to start. After all, according to the study, even though 80% of organizations maintain some type of employee recognition program, “their impact was perceived to be greater when these programs were aligned with organizational values.” This is because for many employees it seems that recognition helps clarify organizational goals and provides a more defined structure of what is expected of them, creating a clear path to performance improvement and the accomplishments that result from it. Engagement and recognition programs offer practical avenues to achieving this sort of organizational clarity, and with the right program structure, companies should be more capable of optimizing the performances of their employees.

How well does your organization recognize employees?

Related Resources