Motivation and satisfaction

Three definitive relations for every leader to formulate meaningful recognition  

The need for recognition evolves every day. Now more people are talking about being recognized at work or giving praise to others. Employers invest actively in different programs and approaches. HR departments “build” actively “the next big recognition tool.” After all these efforts, many companies still experience high turnover levels, see non-satisfied employees, and lose bright talents every year.  

Recognition, as a widely discussed topic, offers many possibilities, but at the same time, companies need to learn what it means to recognize a person for its full contribution in the right person way. Personalized recognition makes employees stay and deal with the company’s challenges instead of directing them to the next employer’s door. Below are the three universal relations that helped my current employer to reach a 96% engagement rate and 98% retention rate within the last four years. To build better recognition practices, every leader needs first to understand these relations and then implement the right recognition tools to boost engagement, loyalty, and retention.  

Relation 1: Frequent versus consistent recognition  

When I started in my profession, I have focused on frequent recognition. It was easier to implement, and we did not care so much about the final result. But in time, I understood that this type of recognition could not be used as a panacea for every situation. The frequency must depend on the style of the culture you are promoting and the task distribution you have established as a process. Too frequent recognition loses its power to motivate and engaged. People stop accepting it as something that makes a difference and starts seeing it as something that frequently happens to them by schedule.  

The frequency must be entirely related to the consistency of the recognition. It is more impactful for the leader to recognize a person by giving details of what this person has achieved and how they relate to and resonate with the company culture instead of just following a predefined schedule for formal recognition.  

Relation 2: Personal specific recognition 

At my previous company, recognition was given to the team’s efforts and not the particular person. That caused teams to feel like winners, but the team’s real winners think they are not fully recognized. Several attributes help the leader make the recognition stronger.  

People appreciate the recognition more and feel more deeply touched when the leader uses their name and can explain the topic, he recognizes the person for in this exact moment in time.  

Most companies have written values, but many leaders forget these values when they give recognition to others. One point that can strengthen the recognition is if the leader can connect the achievement and the credit with the values communicated and distributed as accepted behaviors. The alignment with the company values positions the person as an example to be followed and boosts their self-confidence.  

On the other hand, if the leader sees results, but the behavior is not aligning with the company culture and values, a recognition initiative toward the “achiever” can send a signal to others that the company does not fully live the values written and distributed, and that there is not an essential element. 

Two more vital elements to include in the presentation are the person’s name and the topic the recognition is formulated for.  It makes the praise look more personal. 

Value alignment with the company – connecting recognitions with company values. People who are not aligned with company values are less engaged with their work, responsibilities, and company success. According to a 2019 survey conducted in the US, people who are not aligning their actions with company values are 34% more likely to quit within 1,5 years.  

The more the recognition is personal and connected with broader company values, communicated to the whole employee population, the more likely it will positively impact the receiver.  

Relation 3: Rewards versus recognition 

An often-made mistake by leaders is to use rewards as recognition to a personal contribution result. That is why the leader needs to separate both – the prize and the award and use them the right way to achieve the highest marks possible in each situation.  

Put – the reward Is a tool to be used as a one-time element for a specific success. Rewards can be given for projects, contributions to plans, and actions. They are structured tools to point on specific achievement that makes a particular person recognized as a productivity and quality model. In those words, rewards are used to indicate quality and quantity.  

On the other hand, recognition is more connected with the HOW question. The leader who wants to give meaningful credit must focus on behavior, evaluate it toward the values, and confirm it with the company culture actions and behaviors. The recognition does not come as a qualitative indicator but is more a quantitative one.  


Rewards and recognitions are a widely discussed topic in every company. Leaders talk about them; different departments formulate tools to give them the “right form.” No matter the toolset or the approach, the most powerful weapon for every leader to ensure the workforce is stimulated, motivated, and engaged in the right way is to understand how these two elements can be combined into a winning strategy.  


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