12 June 2024

A Guide to Cultivating a Culture of Recognition in the Workplace

Do you find yourself deflecting compliments, secretly happy but unable to fully embrace them? 

If so, you're not alone. In this guide, we'll explore why a culture of recognition is essential, especially in our work lives, where we occupy so much time. We'll discuss why it matters and share practical steps to help you make it happen.

Do you thrive on recognition? You’ve got this! We encourage you to share your accomplishments with colleagues and celebrate their successes openly, highlighting their significance.

Let's explore why recognition is so crucial and how it shapes our workplace culture.


Where Does Our Desire for Recognition Come From?

Psychologist and philosopher William James once stated that a fundamental driving force in human nature is the yearning for recognition. It’s not any type of praise, though. We're referring to a type of recognition that is sincere, focusing on one's efforts rather than character or personality, and which doesn't undermine autonomy but rather boosts confidence.

Being recognized means our actions are seen, valued, and appreciated by others. Humans thrive on social connections and relationships, and we have developed a need for recognition as part of our evolutionary growth. However, the key lies in knowing how to give and receive the appropriate type of recognition. 

Let's discover what this means and why recognition is often overlooked.


Why Do We Avoid the Need for Recognition?

Why is our relationship with recognition so complex? It might be because we often encounter insincere praise instead of genuine, meaningful, timely, and balanced recognition. Additionally, the common misbelief that seeking recognition is wrong may suppress our needs. All of this leads to what evolutionary psychologists call “recognition poverty,” a state of deficit in feeling acknowledged.

The belief that acknowledging someone else devalues ourselves may contribute to this “recognition poverty.” Existential psychologist Rollo May takes another angle, comparing our struggle with recognition to an internal conflict. He suggests that our desire to 'grow up' is associated with a need for recognition in childhood, creating an internal conflict with the part of us that craves it. As a result, we may end up avoiding something that benefits us.


The Importance of Recognition Culture in the Workplace

On the Wellbees Workplace Wellbeing Insights survey, we asked 25 HR professionals worldwide: “What factors do you think contribute to your employees feeling burned out?” They confirmed that overworking is the main reason (32%), but the lack of a culture of recognition (28%) is a close second.

Regardless of age, receiving genuine recognition for our efforts holds value. A culture of recognition is one of the best ways to improve the work environment, boost motivation, and acknowledge hard work.

Feeling recognized at work motivates employees to aim for future goals. As modern employees, we tackle complex tasks requiring technical skills and creativity. Seeing how we contribute to the big picture and receiving acknowledgement is more meaningful than ever.

That’s why we need a genuine and meaningful culture of recognition.


The Need for Recognition Among Employees

According to the Gallup Survey, organizations with a recognition culture can save over $16 million annually.

Employees who receive recognition:

  • Have a 56% lower likelihood of seeking new job opportunities.
  • Feel four times more engaged with their company.
  • Are four times more likely to recommend their company.
  • Have a four times greater likelihood of feeling a sense of belonging.
  • Are five times more likely to set future goals within their company.


Creating a Culture of Recognition in 5 Steps


1- Understand the Needs of Your Employees

Recognition can come in different forms and approaches. Some employees may prefer to be recognized publicly, while others may prefer a more private acknowledgement. For some, small moments of recognition may be important, while others may prefer to celebrate major achievements. Understanding employees’ expectations is essential for creating a meaningful culture of recognition.

Tip: Ask questions.

How would you like to be recognized? 

How do you prefer special occasions to be celebrated in your company?


2- Be Authentic and Genuine

Recognition becomes meaningful and effective when authentic, personalized, and thoughtful. Offering specific thanks that consider the individual's qualities and genuinely recognizing their achievements is one of the most important steps in building a culture of acknowledgement.

Tip: Provide specific feedback.

For example: “I know yesterday's presentation was stressful for you. I also know you get nervous about speaking in front of a crowd. Despite all this, you nailed it! Thank you so much.”


3- Choose the Right Time for Recognition

Timing matters! Delayed recognition may not be as effective as showing recognition in real time. Celebrating employees' special occasions and achievements at the right time can help build a much stronger culture of recognition.

Tip: Hold 5-Minute Gatherings

No matter the occasion, consider planning brief 5-minute gatherings with your team to celebrate.


4- Paying Forward the Effects of Success

Sharing how employees' contributions have impacted the bigger picture fosters powerful communication and connections and creates a positive workplace culture. Regular data sharing and surveys can measure employee contribution and be shared with feedback.

Tip: Organize Impact Sessions

Host brief monthly "impact" meetings to celebrate employees of the effects of their accomplishments in the workplace.


5- Facilitate Recognition

Mobilizing a culture of recognition by leveraging technology to set up simple thank-you mechanisms can facilitate the creation of a culture where employees feel seen and celebrated quickly and effectively.

Tip: To facilitate recognition culture in your company, you can benefit from a tool like the Wellbees Recognition Module.


Let's Embrace Our Need for Recognition!

Recognition plays a bigger role than we may realize, and overlooking it might be unfair to our teams and colleagues. 

That's why we created the Wellbees Recognition Module to help enhance employee wellbeing and strengthen internal connections. 

Would you like to elevate your corporate wellness with our Recognition Module and foster closer bonds within your company?

Contact us to learn more details!


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