Company Culture

Why Public Employee Recognition Is Crucial For Your Business


How much is an Oscar worth to you? For the average movie-goer, it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. You might like watching the Academy Awards every spring, you may have a favorite actress that you’re always rooting for, or a film that you feel especially deserves the recognition. But after the big night comes and goes, for you, it all gets little more than a conversation around the water cooler.

So why is it then that studios spend an average of $20-30 million on their Oscars advertising campaigns alone? Startling.  And telling.

Awards are a big deal—for both the recipient, and the audience. Because it’s not just about acknowledging that one film or actor might have been better than another. It means more people are going to watch it, remember it, and even simply regard it in the canon of greats.

Talking about giving one group of people—the Academy—some pretty serious power.

Well, guess what? As an employer or manager, you have that same power within your office. But the best part is that it doesn’t have to be once a year, there doesn’t have to be just one winner.

And you definitely don’t have to spend $30 million—or any money for that matter.

Public recognition is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to make your employees feel like they’re walking their own red carpet.

And the benefits extend far beyond a simple ego-boost. Here are just a few of the ways public recognition is something you simply can’t afford not to do:

Engaging Your Employees

According to Harvard Business Review’s David Sturt, when a new manager recognizes the efforts of employees who’ve never been recognized by previous managers, engagement can rise by as much as thirty-one percent.

That should give you great pause.

Huge swaths of our workforce report low employee-engagement numbers. Low engagement leads to lowered effort, higher turnover, and—generally speaking—a poor office culture. And here you have the hard evidence that simply recognizing employees can turn all of that around.

And that’s why making that recognition public is even more important: your employees are already aware of the deficit.

By taking the time to put your employees’ accomplishments out on a public platform like a sales leaderboard, you’re communicating a message to your entire office—that you see them, that you value them, and that you’re working on developing a culture that rewards dedicated work.

Aligning Purpose With Goals

In a brilliant writeup for HR NEWS magazine, Craig Southern explains how things like rewards and public recognition are one of the most cost-effective ways for an organization to keep its employees loyal to their job and the business itself. He goes as far as to say that “use of employee rewards and recognition as performance motivators must … be considered as part of any organization’s competitive advantage strategy.”

In other words, if you’re not recognizing your employees’ hard work, then you probably aren’t operating at your most competitive—and you’re certainly not setting your employees up for optimal success.

When you take the time to call out your employees’ best work in front of their peers, you’re communicating what in fact you consider to be the “best work.” As any manager knows, a hard-working employee is not always the top-performing employee, because often times we can get caught up on the wrong tasks—ultimately keeping us from staying focused on the larger goals of our organization.

Through the simple power of public recognition, you’re able to connect the dots for your entire office between your organization’s goals and how each employee’s work fits into them.

Staying On Message

Southern goes on to explain that for any business to be operating at its most competitive—from both an output and hiring standpoint—they must always be “striving to deliver on the expectation of the mission of the organization.”  And that means that the public recognition you choose to go with for your employees, “no matter the perception of how large or how small, must always be tied to an organization’s mission.”

We don’t always like to admit it, but the truth is that not all of our employees are always on the same page with the greater mission of their employers. So it’s important that when you do recognize employees, you’re not just shooting from the hip.

Take the time to really analyze an employee’s behavior, make sure that it’s tied to your overall success strategy, and then use that opportunity to shape your messaging across the organization.

Public recognition presents you with the opportunity not only to reward good behavior, but influence the behavior of everyone else.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

It’s not hard to connect the idea of recognition with employee satisfaction. But if you had any doubt, the proof is certainly in the pudding: According to the folks at SHRM, “68 percent of HR professionals agreed that employee recognition has a positive impact on retention and 56 percent said such programs also help with recruitment.”

They go on to point out that, “Organizations consistently recognized as “great places to work” are typically those that frequently recognize, validate and value outstanding work—not only by telling employees they are doing an excellent job but also by giving them cash rewards or noncash incentives.”

Employees want to be where they’re valued. Even for the highest achievers, it isn’t simply about punching the clock and seeing that direct deposit come in. It’s in our nature to want to be seen and valued.

So whether you’re a little fish or the number one landing spot for top-talent, showing your employees why they matter is paramount to keeping them on the team.

Incentivizing Better Performance

But let’s not lose sight of why public recognition is so crucial for any organization: it leads to better performance.  Not only does it create a sense of healthy competition among employees, but it gives them a reason to strive for better.

Public recognition sets a benchmark against which all of your employees can grow and achieve. When they know the stakes, and they can feel that achieving new levels of success is possible, there’s no stopping even your lowest performers from seeing new heights.