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Recognition for Motivation in the Workplace

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it."


Employee motivation has become an important practice in an economy that requires organizations to produce more results, with fewer resources than ever before. Studies show meaningful employee recognition awards encourages workers to buy into the success of the organization, rather than using management tools to manipulate employees into better performance.



The Benefits of Employee Motivation

 An excellent definition of motivation is, “the inner force that drives individuals to achieve personal and organizational goals.” Studies reveal that companies that provide relevant employee recognition programs have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that do not.

The theory explains that companies making persistent efforts to recognize good work have happier employees. It is consistent with B.F. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning psychology, which indicates that people who are rewarded for good behavior are more likely to repeat it. Consistent and meaningful recognition will build a stronger company over time.

People need to be respected and treated as a primary weapon for a company when gaining the competitive advantage. All gains toward a company’s growth and prosperity boils down to the work of employees, and the manner in which a company treats its staff can determine the overall success of the organization.

Organizations are constantly enhancing and improving their operations. In doing so, they are realizing that a direct relationship exists between the overall performance of an organization and that of individual employees.


What Motivates Employees?

Learning what motivates is a key objective for management. A manager cannot be successful without  a dedicated, supportive team, so  keeping employees engaged in the work, offering support, and assuring they have room to grow within their jobs and the organization  are essential to bringing out their full potentials.


Project managers or lower-level corporate managers might not have the decision-making power or resources to provide large financial incentives or bonuses, but one of the most effective ways to reward employees for good performance is by simply recognizing their hard work and accomplishments.


Complimenting employees in the presence of a more senior boss or offering the chance to present the team’s work to higher management can make a difference. It conveys to employees that their work is appreciated and trusted, and that management supports their efforts.

Recognition awards should be individual and specific to each employee. For some employees, public recognition will provide the most praise, such as presented during a large company meeting, followed by  a round of applause. But for other employees, public recognition can be an awkward embarrassment. The latter type of employee would much rather praise came in a private, one-on-one meeting. For a manager to be an effective motivator, they must understand that staff will respond to different types of praise or acknowledgment and adjust methods according to the individual.

Recognition does not always have to be verbal. A letter or email written to the staff member can be just as effective. A manager may want to copy higher-level corporate officers to the correspondence so the employee knows the praise is reaching management.

Another nonverbal way of recognizing an employee’s efforts is to present them with keepsakes such as  trophy or plaque awards. Custom awards can be engraved with the employee’s name and other information regarding the project, or can include employee’s contributions and accomplishments. These can be given privately or presented during corporate awards ceremonies.

Regardless of how they are presented, such gifts will recognize the efforts of the employees who receive them, hopefully motivating the employee to go even farther in his job performance. As the employees succeed, so does the company.

Organizations realize significantly better results when they frequently recognize employees’ performances in the forms of praise, even more so than simple monetary rewards.

Constructive Praise

 Although the evidence points to better outcomes when employees are frequently recognized for their work, it is important to make recognition meaningful and to do it is actually deserved.

It is true that all employees’ efforts should be recognized; the simple fact that they have their jobs should be testament that they deserve recognition at some point. But it is important to only recognize the efforts that are truly remarkable or the compliments lose their effectiveness.

Praise should also be specific. Rather than simply telling an employee that their work is appreciated, go a step further and name specific instances where their performance made a positive difference for the team.


Culture of Recognition

An employee’s direct manager is responsible for a healthy amount of recognition. Besides, it is the manager who observes and evaluates an employee’s performance and compares it to the rest of the team’s members.

Often an employee’s coworkers also have a clear vantage in understanding the daily work of their counterparts because they “work in the trenches” together.

 Although it can be tricky to mandate employees‘ recognition of each other’s efforts and accomplishments, it can be encouraged by taking the time during a meeting or other gathering to ask employees to give examples of when they noticed coworkers putting forth extra effort. There can also be a designated bulletin board or other area where employees can post such praise for their coworkers.

Peer recognition takes some of the responsibility of recognition off the manager’s desk, but it also fosters a more cooperative team atmosphere in which employees learn to recognize successful behavior and strive to duplicate it.


Recognize Often

Now that we have examined the relationship between recognition and motivation, how often should it be practiced? As long as recognition is specific and deserved, it should be granted as often as possible and it should granted consistently.



If you’re looking for an excellent way to show an employee how much your value his or her time and appreciate the work he or she has done for your company, visit EDCO Awards and Specialties for all employee awards needs, including trophies, plaques, acrylic awards, name badges and more.