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Read time6 mins

The psychological impact of employee recognition

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How recognising employees drives business performance

Discover the power of employee recognition in the workplace

Learn why recognition is essential for employee morale and productivity, backed by fascinating insights into human psychology and primate behaviour.

Understand how recognition triggers positive emotions and influences future behaviour, contributing to a positive work culture and a reduction in staff turnover.

Explore the role of personality in tailoring recognition strategies to your employee’s individual preferences, so your efforts are effective.

Boost morale and productivity through employee recognition

Watch the video to understand how recognising your employees improves performance and wellbeing, especially when it's tailored to their individual needs.

Step 2 - The benefits of employee recognition to your organisation

If you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video transcript

Hi, Andrew from SACS, and welcome to video number one in our five video sequence about optimum employee recognition.

What we’re seeking to do in this sequence of videos is to give you the latest evidence-based perspective on employee recognition, why it’s good for you as an employee, why it’s good for the organisation and how it can be done optimally.

The sequence of these videos starts out with why do people need recognition – which is what this video is about – the business case for recognition, forms of recognition, leadership skills for recognition and a facilitated leadership program to build an effective recognition approach.

Why people need recognition

So let’s talk briefly about why people need recognition.

It’s a basic human need for people to be recognised by other people.

And so here’s a diagram that talks about the neurology of recognition.

Recognition triggers our reward system and gives us a surge of dopamine which is a reward chemical and that creates positive emotions like happiness, pride and enjoyment.

So when people tell us, for instance, that we’re doing a good job, that creates a neurological response which is a positive neurological response.

But in addition to that what we know is that when people are rewarded in this way it informs future behaviour.

So the behaviours that you’ve recognised are much more likely to happen again in future and that’s really one of the benefits of employee recognition.

Recognition in chimpanzees

Now here is recognition amongst primates.

These are chimpanzees and you’ll notice that they’re grooming each other and grooming appears to be a very important form of recognition amongst primates.

So primates who for whatever reason are in the bad books tend not to be groomed by their buddies, but those that are in the good books tend to be groomed.

And one of the things that’s very interesting is that chimpanzees will put aside a whole bunch of other objectives in order to be groomed, even things like food.

Why people leave their jobs

Now let’s turn our attention from the world of primates to the world of human beings and in particular why people leave their jobs.

So here’s a piece of research about why people left their jobs.

This is a study that we undertook probably about four or five years ago now, but we asked 2,000 people why they left their last job and in fact you’ll see reason number one is a very positive reason.

They moved to a more exciting opportunity, Reason number two though is a negative – people had an absence of clear performance guidance and of course recognition is part of that.

So that’s how important it is to people.

When people don’t receive clear guidance about how they’re going, they will tend to leave their work.

Now if you want to have a positive engaged workforce, recognition is the positive part of performance guidance or performance recognition.

Does people’s need for recognition vary?

So a really interesting question and a typical psychology question is whether people need recognition to the same amount and the answer is no.

Some people need it more than others. This is the HEAXCO model of personality as discovered by Kibeom Lee and Mike Ashton in around about 2007 (refer to the video), and what you’ll see here is that there are a number of personality characteristics and I won’t go into them all but people who are highly emotional tend to need recognition more than people who are emotionally stable.

You may have worked with some people in the past who you think, well you know they seem to be relatively independent in terms of recognition.

They can get by without high levels of recognition.

Others seem to be more needy in that respect.

The role of emotional stability

Emotional stability is a driver of this.

If people are unlucky enough to be emotionally unstable, not only is that a predictor of work outcomes like productivity, but it’s also a predictor of things like the degree to which people need to be recognised.

The more emotionally unstable you are the more likely it is that the recognition will do you good, whereas if somebody is highly resilient it doesn’t seem to matter so much.

Of course, it matters to everybody, but it matters more if you happen to be a bit emotionally unstable.

Extroversion vs introversion

Then you get to extroversion and introversion.

Extroverts prefer recognition which is given in a group setting, whereas an introvert may prefer a kind of a quiet chat about what it is that they’ve done well or badly.

Openness to experience

And I think this characteristic of openness to experience, the personality characteristic of openness to experience, people who are like that who are very broad-minded in the way that they embrace the concept of new ideas, new ways of doing things, they will often want to be recognised for innovation type stuff.

So personality will determine how people like to be recognised and we’ll get into that later on in this sequence of videos in a little bit more detail.

Recognition is key to well-being

So in summary, people do need recognition.

Recognition is really important to people’s psychological well-being. It’s important to a different degree to different people, but we all, even the most resilient people on Earth, need recognition from time to time. And here’s the agenda for the rest of the videos in this sequence.

We’ve dealt with the question of why people need recognition and they do.

The second just about to come up if you continue on the sequence, is the business case – achieving our goals.

In other words, how does recognition pay off for the organisation?

And we go into forms of recognition, leadership skills for recognition and facilitated leadership to build a recognition program.

Create an effective employee recognition program

Step 2 - The benefits of employee recognition to your organisation

If you’d like some help with creating an effective employee recognition program, based on your workplace and staff, contact us about our Employee Engagement and Wellbeing surveys.

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