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Home » Diversity in Business » The Power of Employee Recognition

An increasing number of businesses are implementing recognition programs to build better, more engaged teams.

Employee recognition is a powerful tool. Recent research found that 40 percent of workers would devote more energy to their work if they felt recognized more frequently, and increased recognition drives higher quality of work and reduced absenteeism and turnover.

“After a year of massive change, it’s time to rethink the employee experience and rebuild employee trust,” says Jeff Cates, CEO and president of Achievers, an industry-leading employee voice and recognition solution provider. “By leveraging technology, higher-level executives can better understand the individual employee experience.”

The science of recognition

Behavioral scientists have long known that there is a direct correlation between recognition and improved performance

“Our science and research arm, the Achievers Workforce Institute, found that every time an organization doubles the number of recognitions within their organization, their overall engagement is expected to increase by 5 percent,” notes Cates.

The goal should be the creation of a meaningful culture of recognition that incorporates key elements:

  • Timely: Recognition should occur quickly after the triggering behavior
  • Frequent: True organizational transformation requires individuals to receive recognition at least monthly
  • Specific: “Thanks for your help” is not as effective as “Thank you for the two hours you spent on your own time to help me solve my computer issues”
  • Values-based: Your recognition program should be tied directly to your core company values

Recognition programs also support inclusion and diversity.

“When employees feel they belong, the workplace — both physical and virtual — becomes an inclusive space,” Cates notes. “Companies can ensure they are supporting all of their employees by giving them the tools to create the environment [where] they feel they can express themselves. At Achievers, we have various Employee Resource Groups (ERG) that are initiated and maintained by the employees themselves. Some of the groups include PRIDE and the Achievers Women’s Network (AWN).”

Engage, empower, and motivate

Successful recognition programs require more than the adoption of a platform. “Executives and managers play a key role in modeling recognition best practices,” Cates says. “We have a popular saying here at Achievers: ‘What gets recognized gets repeated.’” In fact, the Achievers Workforce Institute’s research has found that when they’re recognized for a specific action, 92 percent of employees are more likely to repeat that action in the future.

Giving employees a voice is the only way to design a culture of recognition with real impact. The tools provided by an employee voice and recognition platform must include ways for employees to meaningfully share immediate feedback. For example, the Achievers platform offers several tools to drive engagement, including chatbots and “pulse surveys” (a short series of questions conducted on a relatively frequent basis, designed to track responses to an issue or topic over a period of time). This not only allows managers to implement changes to enhance the employee experience, reinforcing the productive behaviors that drive a culture of recognition, but also encourages thoughtful conversations about diversity and inclusion. The key is making employees feel safe in offering honest feedback, and the key to that is activating employee participation through recognition.

Achievers also allows leaders to respond to employee feedback by quickly creating actions like scheduling meetings or launching discussions to make employees feel heard. “Asking for feedback just a few times a year through programs like annual surveys or performance reviews is simply not enough to see the full picture of how employees are feeling on a daily basis,” Cates says.

Cates believes recognition is only going to become more important in the coming years. “Showing employees that their company is listening is the best way to meet the needs of employees and nurture a culture of recognition where everyone feels empowered,” he says.

To start realizing the benefits of an employee voice and recognition platform, visit

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