Why Recognize Them When They’re Just Doing Their Job?

One of the standard complaints against recognition that some people make, is if people are doing their jobs, why do you need to recognize them?

A good friend of mine likens this to someone saying, “I love you!” to their partner when they propose to them and then never saying it again. When the partner desperately asks after a year together, “How come you never say how much you love me anymore?” the response is simply, “I told you when I first proposed. Why do I have to say it again?”

It get’s worse when the diehard cynics in the room confront the need for employee recognition by saying things like, “We pay them well enough, what more do they want?”

Yet, for many people, though not everyone, there is an inherent need to feel that they’re making a difference. They want to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated by others.

I am going to tackle this question the best way I can by painting a picture and letting you decide.

Remember the question: Should you be recognizing people when they are “just doing their job?”

When Nothing Is Said At All

Imagine doing your job day in and day out, which leads into months that roll into years that keep going by.

You faithfully get paid every two weeks, which is automatically transferred by your employer directly into your bank account. No one personally pays you or even makes sure you got paid.

Your mortgage gets deducted and your power and other utilities and phone are set on automatic monthly billing. And you diligently make deductions for your retirement savings.

But each day, each month and each year, no one expresses appreciation to you for all that you do.

You never hear a word of positive feedback and receive no praise or acknowledgment for your work.

Now, what would your job really mean to you if no one ever thanked you for what you do?

Would your work have any real purpose to you beyond just meeting your basic needs?

Consider the fact that only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days, according to Gallup’s analysis.

Yikes! That means 67% of the workforce felt they did NOT receive any recognition or praise for the good work they did in the past week.

It’s not uncommon for employees to feel people routinely ignore their best efforts where they work. Further, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

There’s one big reason for why you recognize people.

You need to move people away from being motivated by the paycheck and start driving work by meaningful purpose.

Recognition helps you reinforce those actions that have the greatest meaning and are most purposeful.

Recognition Is A Powerful Force for Good

Thinking you pay employees enough and then not do anything else is a very selfish and uncaring act.

Research shows that money will only keep people on the job so long before they’ll consider leaving the company for a better paying job elsewhere.

More than half of employees are searching for new jobs or watching for openings according to Gallup’s 2017 State of American Workplace. Actively disengaged employees are twice as likely as engaged employees to be seeking new jobs.

And disengaged employees are always poorly recognized.

Only 23% of employees
 strongly agree their manager provides
 meaningful feedback to them and
 26% of employees strongly agree the feedback they receive helps them do better work.

Start Thinking About What Your Employees Want

In a recent TED Talk by Rainer Strack from the Boston Consulting Group, he stated the top priorities of 200,000 job seekers surveyed worldwide. Here are the priorities they identified:

  1. Appreciation for your work (every day, not just once a year)
  2. Good relationship with colleagues
  3. Good work-life balance
  4. Good relationship with superior

When Gallup asked what types of recognition were the most memorable to employees they responded with six ways, and money (a reward, by the way, versus recognition) was not the highest.

  • Public recognition or acknowledgment via an award, certificate or commendation
  • Private recognition from a boss, peer or customer
  • Receiving or obtaining a high level of achievement through evaluations or reviews
  • Promotion or increase in scope of work or responsibility to show trust
  • Monetary award such as a trip, prize or pay increase
  • Personal satisfaction or pride in work

I will remind you of my definition that “Real Recognition™ is any thought, word or deed towards making someone feel appreciated for who they are and recognized for what they do.”

That’s appreciating a person for who they are – their background, talents, skills, personality traits, education, family, and ethnicity – independent of any performance, results or actions.

And it is also about recognizing people for what they do. Notice I did not say what they’ve done.

Far too many employees tell me they don’t receive any recognition along the way. No one tells them how they are doing with their work – no feedback, no insight, no praise, and no encouragement – nothing!

Giving recognition gives people pride in what they are doing. Recognition is the glue that cements the loyalty of a person to their manager and their employer.

And the funny thing is that most recognition costs little or no money at all.

What it does take is a personal commitment to valuing people and their contributions.

Question: How have you handled the negative excuses for not recognizing people?

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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One thought on “Why Recognize Them When They’re Just Doing Their Job?

  1. Giving an employee recognition even if it is for the day to day completion of tasks will go a long way. People want that recognition that what they are doing is correct and worth it. This in turn leads to potentially greater productivity from that employee.