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How does an employee recognition programme affect employee engagement?

Recognising and rewarding the great work that employees do is essential to driving employee engagement. For employees to feel focused, driven, and committed at work each day, it’s important that they see the meaningful difference that their projects are making – and employee recognition is one way of achieving this aim. There are, of course, many ways that you can put employee recognition into practice, which we will take a look at. After highlighting some effective methods of employee recognition, we will then specifically address why an employee recognition programme helps to boost employee engagement.

What kinds of employee recognition help drive employee engagement?

1. Quickly recognise employees’ achievements

Firstly, in order for an employee recognition programme to increase employee engagement, it’s crucial that employees are recognised immediately for achieving positive results or as close to the achievement as possible. This will help to reinforce the kind of behaviour or performance that, as an employer, you want to encourage. Waiting for monthly, mid-year, or yearly reviews is too late. In contrast, on-the-spot or weekly recognition will result in a much greater degree of employee engagement and productivity.

2. Tie employee recognition to company values

A second tried-and-tested way to make employee recognition effective is to connect the recognition to the company values. Employees want to know that the work that’s being acknowledged is relevant to the brand and mission of the company. By aligning employees’ performance with organisational values, you will ensure that employees continue to stay committed to their work, loyal to the company, and willing to achieve desirable or exceptional results.

3. Offer relevant rewards

Another effective way to enhance employee engagement is by offering employees relevant rewards. To do this, managers need to take the time to get to know their employees and what their interests and values are. This will enable managers to acknowledge and reward individual employees in the most suitable way. You can help drive employee engagement by making sure that rewards and recognition are personalised. For example, while one employee may respond well to one-on-one praise in person, another may prefer to be recognised for their work in written form.

4. Recognise everyone in the company

An employee recognition programme also needs to be inclusive and open to all to make sure that all employees feel engaged in their work. If you recognise the same employees all the time, this could lead to increased feelings of competition and potentially hamper employee engagement as a result. It’s vital to recognise employees not just for making the most money, but also for other efforts, such as helping enhance brand awareness.

5. Communicate recognition on a company-wide scale

In order to maximise the positive effects of engagement, morale, and productivity, recognition of an employee should be communicated on a company-wide scale. Managers should explain to all other employees what this recognition is for and how the employee’s actions will positively impact the business. If the recognition stays at just the team level or is only communicated between a manager and individual employee, then this will have less of an impact on the individual’s engagement levels; plus it won’t help to raise the employee’s profile within the organisation. One easy way to use company-wide recognition is to utilise people management software that allows employees to give shout-outs to other colleagues for peer recognition. In this way, everyone in the company can see and recognise the shout-outs.

The connection between an employee recognition programme and employee engagement

1. Employee recognition is connected to meaning and purpose

One of the most important reasons that employee recognition drives employee engagement is that it instils a sense of meaning and purpose in an employee’s work. Employees want to know that their performance and results make a meaningful contribution to another colleague, their team, the company, or wider society. Part of what makes employees focused, committed, motivated, and driven when carrying out their tasks and projects is the belief that it makes a difference and that this outcome will be recognised in a positive way.

2. Employee recognition and employees’ self-esteem

Employee engagement often suffers when employees are only criticised for the mistakes they make and rarely find themselves receiving praise, appreciation, and acknowledgement of what they have achieved. This can lower the self-esteem of employees, making them doubt their ability to contribute value to the company and, in the process, lead to lower levels of employee morale, engagement, and productivity. Instead, if managers work to give credit where credit’s due, this will help to boost the self-esteem of employees and help them to feel motivated when working on the next task or project and to feel engaged with what they’re doing.

3. Employees want to feel valued

There is a powerful connection between employee recognition and employee engagement because we all want to feel valued for the work that we do. If you don’t feel that you are a valuable asset to an organisation (indicated by effective employee recognition), then you will be less engaged in the work that you do. After all, the relationship between an employee and employer is mutual – if an employee doesn’t feel valued, then they will value the company and the work they do less and be less engaged in their tasks and projects as a consequence. If, on the other hand, employees understand that they contribute to the success of their team or the company at large, then they feel empowered and are more likely to be passionate about their jobs and motivated to put a high degree of effort into their work.

By taking note of the link between an employee recognition programme and employee engagement, employers can strive to treat their employees with respect and in doing so, will benefit from improved engagement and return on investment.

For more information on how to connect employee recognition with employee engagement, check out our e-book on how to build an effective recognition strategy.

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