Experts Agree: Employee Recognition is an Effective Motivator

by: Nichole Gunn June 15, 2011

Forty percent of 3,000 worker respondents who took part in a recent Australian Institute of Management survey cited they felt undervalued and unacknowledged by their employer, according to a report by BusinessDay.

In another study conducted last year by RedBalloon, a corporate gifting firm, it was revealed that one out of five employees are not given any recognition at all, or receive a simple matter-of-fact yearly employee reward.

Both studies demonstrate that workers desire recognition, primarily from their direct mangers or supervisors. If the needed recognition is not provided, the workers may very likely quit.

The co-author of a manager’s employee recognition manual, The Carrot Principle, Chester Elton believes the present lack of recognition by employers has to do with the economic situation. He told BusinessDay, “Managers are overwhelmed. They just don't have the time."

A number of studies, in addition to Elton’s, finds a correlation between an employee’s enthusiasm at work and his productivity - the higher the enthusiasm, the higher the productivity. Employee motivation must be an ongoing strategy for supervisors and managers; workers must feel that they are appreciated and valued.

According to Elton, good work is often ignored while worker mistakes are quickly picked up on by supervisors. “You don't have time for great work, but you have time for mess-ups and mistakes. Think what would happen if you reversed that. The number of mistakes would go down. It's a matter of priority more than anything."

The author of 1001 Ways To Reward Employees Bob Nelson adds that employee incentives don’t need to be monetary. Nelson’s book is a manual that offers advice to employers and is in its 57th printing.

Nelson advises the simple works. “A simple praising for a job well done, keeping people informed about what's going on, asking someone for his or her opinion, involving them in decisions that affect them,” and giving them autonomy goes a long way. He goes on to note that fostering employee work related ideas and  helping them when errors occur are a few of the “top motivators of today’s employees.” And, these motivating incentives are low-to-no-cost and very effective.

As an example of effective simplicity in action is Whole Foods’ employee incentive program. The Southern Methodist University Daily Mustang reported that Fortune magazine recognized the food company as one of the best 100 companies to work for – this honor has been awarded to the company for 14 consecutive years. A primary reason for the praise is Whole Food’s worker-friendly workplace environment.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.