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Grow Your Business Your Team

For an Engaged Team, Encourage Employees to Recognize Others

Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

While the benefits of receiving recognition at work are well-documented, new research shows that just as much good comes to those giving the praise.

A new study from the O.C. Tanner Institute revealed that employees who always give recognition to others are more engaged, have higher well-being scores, and are more innovative and productive than those who never or rarely hand out acknowledgements for a job well done.

Specifically, employees who always give recognition had 26 percent higher engagement scores than those who never or rarely recognized co-workers for good work.

The research shows that when employees are more engaged they have:

  1. Increased motivation to contribute
  2. Increased support of company values
  3. Increased understanding of how teams contribute to organizational success
  4. Increased likelihood to recommend the organization
  5. Increased pride in the organization
  6. Increased willingness to go above and beyond
  7. Increased desire to be working at the same organization in one year

"Despite the old adage [that] 'it's better to give than to receive,' most organizations heavily emphasize receiving when it comes to employee recognition," the study's authors wrote. "Receiving recognition is definitely correlated with many key metrics [that] most organizations track and seek to improve, but there are also immense benefits that can be attributed to the act of giving recognition to others."

Employees who give recognition are not only more engaged, but they are also more holistically well. The study found that about 10 percent of employees who never or rarely give recognition have excellent well-being, compared to 25 percent who always recognize their peers for their hard work. [See Related Story: Want Better Employee-Boss Relationships? Communication and Recognition Help]

"Holistic well-being represents how individual employees rate their current lives at work and at home and how optimistic they are about their future," the study's authors wrote. "By giving recognition more often, employees not only feel more secure in their present circumstances, but are also more optimistic about their future."

Innovation is also higher in employees who give recognition, the study showed. The research found a 33 percent increase in innovation scores when comparing employees who never or rarely give recognition to those who always do so.

"This increase represents how well employees ask the right questions, go see problems for themselves, seek help from their outer circles, improve the mix of solutions and deliver a difference people love," the researchers wrote.

The study also discovered that those who always give recognition have 22 percent higher work results than those who never praise others. This means their work goes beyond expectations more frequently.

Overall, just 11 percent of those surveyed said they always give recognition, with 14 percent saying they never or rarely acknowledge others for their good work. The study found that 23 percent of senior leaders have not given anyone recognition in the past month, compared to 36 percent of nonmanagers.

The top five reasons employees say they don't give recognition more often are:

  1. I'm saving recognition for only the "best" work.
  2. I have budget concerns.

  3. My organization doesn't have a program to give recognition. 

  4. I don't feel empowered to give recognition at work. 

  5. I don't feel like it is my responsibility to give recognition at work.

The study shows that employers should do more to encourage employees to recognize others.

"Giving recognition, receiving recognition and observing recognition combine together to form a powerful tool for organizational leaders," the study's authors wrote. "Organizations looking to use employee recognition as a strategic tool to influence greatness must focus on the full recognition experience."

The study was based on surveys of 3,496 employees from countries in four different continents, including 716 from the United States. The survey targeted adults working full-time at companies that had more than 500 employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.