Recognition Does Not Improve Employee Engagement…So There!

Two businessmen shaking hands in blue background - 3D render

I know.

How dare I pronounce such heretic claims!

Many in the recognition industry parlay about what people “said” or what others have “seen” in one survey or another suggesting recognition improves employee engagement.

Some consultancy firms indicate where recognition “occurs” (whatever that means) organizations have better employee engagement as well as improved key performance metrics. Recognition industry vendors indicate how many managers or employees “say” recognition made so many things totally awesome, such as engagement.

First off, there is no uniform definition of employee engagement so how can you say you have improved something if you don’t define what you’re talking about or consistently know across organizations what it is.

Second, no one has properly defined recognition either. Too often, people (and vendors), get terms semantically confused – such as rewards being interpreted as recognition and vice versa.

So does recognition make any difference at all, you ask?

Here’s what I do know.

Recognition given the right way does influence behavior. Our research shows that recognition improves the positive relationship strength between the giver and receiver of recognition. It is this enhanced positive relationship strength that moves the dial on employee engagement measures.

A subtle, but powerful difference, that makes all the difference.

I once shared this premise of “recognition doesn’t improve engagement” in a presentation at a Recognition Professionals International conference and an attendee on the front row said, “You’ve just blown me away!”

It is so simple. Don’t let the industry myths fool you.

Q: What principles have you learned that dispel the myths of the many PR broadcasted “survey says”?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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