By Gary Beckstrand, Vice President at O.C. Tanner
The benefits of feeling appreciated and recognized at work are routinely examined in studies, but it’s not often that people examine how recognizing employees affects the giver. Is there more to be gained from recognition than just receiving it?
Recently, my company, O.C. Tanner, conducted a survey of more than 3,400 working professionals from countries around the world to explore how giving recognition in the workplace impacts the giver and, in turn, overall company culture—specifically from an employee’s perspective.
Millennials Love It
We found that employees who frequently give recognition feel more confident and are more driven and dedicated to the success of their organization. This is especially true of millennial workers. According to our survey, four out of five employees say that recognizing someone else¹s achievements makes them want to work harder, and millennials said this most often. Although it has been reported that millennials crave instant recognition for themselves, 85 percent of millennials also feed off of recognizing others.
Those Who Recognize Do Better Work
What’s more, people who give recognition are more motivated in their jobs, are more confident in what they produce, and feel like they do better work. From our findings, 90 percent of employees who said they ‘always’ give recognition to employees feel that their work in the past 12 months has represented significant innovations when compared to the norm. The percentage goes down as frequency of giving goes down.
Still, People Are Hesitant
Some people don’t give recognition because they don’t feel they’re in a position to do so in their office. The study also found that one in five employees don’t feel empowered to give recognition at work. Management can address this hesitation by promoting a culture that encourages recognition from every employee, regardless of position or tenure.
Although frontline employees may feel like it’s not their place to give recognition, it’s in an organization’s best interest to do what it can to dispel that perception. Encouraging cross-level recognition doesn’t require large expenditures—team members can simply tell their coworkers that they recognize and appreciate their work.
Changing the focus from receiving to giving recognition may actually enhance employee engagement and an elevated workplace culture faster. Individuals are likely to have fewer opportunities to receive recognition than they do to give recognition. In other words, an employee does not have to wait to receive in order to gain all the benefits of recognition. It may indeed, be better to give than to receive.
The gains of giving recognition are clear, and organizations should reevaluate how they can better nurture a culture that fosters recognition, not just for the recipients’ sake, but also for those giving it.