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It’s the Recognition Culture, Baby! THREE-Point Plan to Achieve a Wildly Enthusiastic Workforce

Updated: May 7

Happy, engaged employees smile and talk during a work meeting

Dear CEO: how would you like to drop a cool $16 million into your bottom line this year?

Yes? Read further. 

According to Gallup and Workhuman study, by making recognition an important part of company culture, a 10,000-person organization with an already engaged workforce can save up to $16.1 million annually due to reduced employee turnover. 

The best companies understand that recognition should be timely and regular. Acknowledging achievements shortly after they occur reinforces positive behavior and motivates employees. And if you include the recognition as part of your value set, it becomes ingrained in how you expect employees to behave. 

Early in my managerial career, I had my first 360-degree review by my peers, subordinates, and my boss. The results were quite good, except in one area needing improvement: “she needs to celebrate more.” This came as a surprise to me but, ever up for a challenge, I tackled this straight on and soon found myself as the leader of team celebrations.

The result? My team was happier and more confident in the work they were doing and engagement improved because of the recognition for jobs well done. 

So, how exactly do the best companies create a “recognition culture”?

Three Key Elements in a Successful Recognition Culture

  1. The most meaningful to employees starts with leadership involvement. 

  2. Recognition can’t come off as a “task to do” - it has to be personalized, meaningful, and timely.  

  3. A great program to reinforce the culture of recognition is to start a peer-to-peer recognition program

1. Leadership Involvement

Leadership involvement in recognition is crucial because it demonstrates that appreciation and acknowledgment come from the top down. When leaders actively recognize and value contributions, it sets a tone that valuing employees is an integral part of the company culture.

This top-level endorsement of recognition practices underscores their importance to the organization and affirms the company’s commitment to its workforce.

2. Personalized, Meaningful and Timely Recognition

Personalization stands out as it shows employees that their specific actions and contributions are noticed and valued. Tailored recognition resonates more deeply, making employees feel truly seen and appreciated for their unique contributions.

This approach not only boosts morale but also strengthens the employee’s connection to the organization.

3. Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer recognition is powerful because it fosters a sense of community and belonging within the team or organization. When recognition comes from peers, it can often feel more genuine and continuous, as colleagues understand the day-to-day challenges and successes.

This grassroots level of appreciation builds a supportive work environment where everyone feels valued by their coworkers.

Providing managers with the tools, training, and resources to recognize their team members effectively is crucial. This can include training on how to give meaningful feedback and access to budgets for team celebrations or rewards.

Then, sit back, and enjoy the rewards of a recognition culture. 


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