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08 Jul 2022
by Stuart Smith

Top tips on how to deliver recognition – or why saying thank you is more than the cherry on top

While recognition is trending again in the benefits world, recognition initiatives have still failed to lift off in most businesses

Top tips on how to deliver recognition – or why saying thank you is the cherry on top.jpg 1


What is recognition? The Cambridge Dictionary describes ‘giving recognition’ as: “If you are given recognition, people show admiration and respect for your achievements.”

Searching for the dictionary definitions of ‘giving recognition’ revealed a wonderful irony in the context of the workplace – Cambridge offers: “Ella complained that the company never gave her any recognition for her work.”

Google: “Appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service, or ability; ‘his work was slow to gain recognition’.”

Oxford English Dictionary: “Recognition (for something) public praise and reward for someone's work or actions; ‘She gained only minimal recognition for her work’.”

The need for recognition in the workplace should be blindingly obvious and most of us are aware that at lack of recognition is demotivating.

While recognition is trending again in the benefits world, recognition initiatives have still failed to lift off in most businesses. Why? The heart of what recognition is all about is often misunderstood, neglected or adulterised by the schemes, technology and particularly ‘gifting'.

Give praise from the heart

What is at the heart of recognition? Recognition is simply about saying thank you, publicly. Not to  say there’s no place in recognition for gifting, but it is the cherry on top. The foundation is remembering to say thank you and doing so publicly.

We all know how nice it is when someone takes a minute to say thank you. And, if they do it in front of the whole team, even more so. Making it public is about ensuring that the people around you – your team and/or your family – know you were thanked and why.

The hard bit, the bit that takes effort to get right, is baking the cake, ie, creating a culture of remembering to say thank you in the business. The good news is that ‘thank you’ is infectious. People who are thanked are more likely to pass it on. Keep feeding it and it will grow into a culture that feeds itself.

Only then can you apply the icing by making it quicker and easier to do it publicly – this is where technology can support, helping remote teams that may struggle to say thank you publicly because they don’t sit in the same office, helping improve visibility of praise by posting in online forums such as the company Yammer page, helping senior managers who want to thank large numbers of colleagues and may struggle to find the time or to know exactly who they need to thank, helping managers to remember who’s been thanked, for example when assessing performance, and lastly offering digital gifts and vouchers.

So how do you create a culture of recognition? Here are some top tips:

• Lead by example; remember to say thank you more yourself.
• Gather and encourage ‘thank you champions’ who remember to say thank you a lot, particularly those with the forums to do it publicly, such as senior managers.
• Communicate and remind employees how important recognition is, educate them on what it is, and nudge them to remember. Everyone knows and understands how important recognition is and how detrimental a lack of it is, they just need to be reminded.
• Technology can help, but emails, posters, print, a few words at the town hall, are all extremely effective.
• Don’t say ‘give recognition’ it gets misinterpreted. Say ‘give thanks’ or ‘give praise’.
• Let technology initiatives and gifting be pulled by employees, not pushed by HR.
• And remember, it’s the thought that counts.

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