Recognition in the workplace can be easy to overlook as a leader. We may even think it’s optional to celebrate people for doing the job we hired them to do. However, for over 40 years employees have reported ‘appreciation for work’ as one of the top two factors most important for motivation. Moreover, recognizing employees proves to increase morale, engagement, productivity, sales, profitability and customer service.

The same Globoforce Study also reports the more recently someone has been recognized, the more likely they are to be connected to the purpose of their work. Humans are emotional beings. We like to hear what we are good at, that we have value and make a difference. For these reasons, people want their leaders to recognize a job well done. They also want their leaders to connect their performance to the organization’s goals. These behaviors allow people to develop a deeper sense of purpose for their work. As a result of this connection, employees have greater pride and ownership in their roles. Most importantly, this strong sense of ownership and pride enables people to perform at a higher level and generate a greater impact.


Recognition is fuel for our high performers, and positively reinforces the performance we want to see continued. Therefore, we often say, what gets recognized gets repeated. When an employee hears a coworker receive recognition for a specific action, it may inspire them to adopt the behavior so they will be rewarded too. Ultimately, this encourages the consistency we need to pursue excellence.

To express a commitment to excellence we approach life with a growth mindset. In other words, we prioritize learning and gathering feedback to get better and better. Employees who commit to excellence focus on the most important outcomes and the goals and essential actions to achieve them. As leaders, we inspire excellence by recognizing employee’s efforts and providing feedback and options for growth and learning new skills. We will not achieve excellence as an organization if we let people burn out and lose motivation on the journey.


Our values and standards are guidelines for the way we behave at work. These guidelines define how we work together and get to where we want to go. To focus on rewarding what is important and what we want to see more of, we suggest a recognition system that connects to the values of your organization or the strategic plan. This helps connect behaviors and actions to goals.

The alignment with what matters most to the organization keeps recognition from being random or individualized by leaders. People can best infer what we expect of them when we define standards and values aligned to our goals and develop clear messages to communicate that information. Meanwhile, when we see the standards in action, we can recognize individuals for living our values. Consequently, this increases the presence of the right behaviors among employees and motivates people to continue their efforts.


If employees don’t feel valued for their work they’re more likely to become disengaged. People may become unmotivated to put forth their best effort thinking, what’s the point? While we know disengaged employees can be costly to our organizations and those we serve, a little recognition can go a long way. Recognizing employees doesn’t have to be costly or formal. People just want to feel appreciated and valued as important members of our teams.


  1. Meet individual with team members to recognize performance, provide feedback and give a sincere ‘thank-you.’
  2. Display a recognition board in your department to feature team members and their accomplishments.
  3. Start meetings off with personal or team-related weekly wins and time to recognize a coworker’s job well done.


  1. If your team uses metrics, turn it into a game to inspire a little friendly competition. The winners benefit from the reward and everyone benefits from the fun.
  2. Plan a dinner or event that the team can bring their families to enjoy as well.
  3. Support what they support – volunteer or contribute as a team to a charitable organization.

Recognition can take an employee from empty to engaged. What will you do today to recognize a high-performing team member? What will you do today to recognize a colleague who needs a motivation boost? Reward and recognize success isn’t just our ninth principle for organizational excellence. It is the glue that holds all of the principles together. Never underestimate the impact recognition can make.

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