Everywhere you go, you can see people praising their kids. Hey, people even praise their pets for being good. So why is recognising employees who are achieving a lot so rare? These days, it became almost fashionable not to praise your employees and it is reasonable to ask why.

The business world is the world of politeness, and in that world, we usually resist the urge to seek praise. We usually prefer modest people to those who are more prone to talking about how they are doing a great job.

The long tradition of thinking that self-esteem must be balanced in order not to become obnoxious can be a good thing because there is less chance to become, well, obnoxious.

At annual reviews, there is traditionally some recognition. But it’s almost always overshadowed by pointing out flaws and critical suggestions for improvement. This always leaves a bitter aftertaste in the hearts and minds of employees who are aware of all the good work they did.

The good news is, this type of thinking is absolutely wrong. According to Dr Jooa Julia Lee, one of the co-authors of a new study from Harvard Business School, restraining from praising employees is not good. After two lab experiments and a field experiment in a global consulting firm, Dr Lee found that when people were reminded of their best work, they were more creative and less stressed.

“Our study found that activating one’s best self-concepts via reflections (which was done as part of corporate onboarding) can predict better performance outcomes and reduced emotional exhaustion and turnover, one year after the onboarding,” says Lee for Forbes.

In a survey by The Gallup Organization, more than 4 million employees worldwide were asked about this topic. According to their latest analysis, it has been found that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise:

  • increase their individual productivity
  • increase engagement among their colleagues
  • are more likely to stay with their organisation
  • receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
  • have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job

The same survey also found that the majority of employees don’t receive the amount of praise they deserve. As a result, employees are much less productive and often, completely disengaged in their jobs.

How to recognise extraordinary achievement?

Another good question is when you should link recognition and reward. When people mention reward in the business world, some of us think of a financial reward. But, financial rewards are short-term solutions. It’s like bribing your kid with a candy for staying quiet at the supermarket. But once the candy is gone, your employee is frustrated and ready to cry (metaphorically, of course).

People need to feel appreciated for what they do.

Constant praise or avoiding recognition are both bad and needless to say, both are missing the point. In employee retention programs, recognition is a key tool because people need more than some constructive feedback. Human beings need to feel useful and fulfilled with what they are doing, and that is why managers and bosses need to recognise all good work. They need to help their employees realise they are on the right path, and that path is leading to success.

The power of recognition is huge because it helps your employees know they are doing something good. If they feel it, the chances good employees will leave your company are very low. Even if they are offered more money from another company, hard working employees know that “the feeling” cannot be bought.


Are your employees motivated? Bring them to Gulf Employee Experience Awards and share experiences with other business professionals! 

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