Five Misconceptions About Employee Recognition

November 20, 2014

Working in the employee recognition industry, I hear a lot of opinions about the practice. A lot. I'm always surprised when I talk with people who have a long list of reasons why they don't or won't do it in their organizations. Not that I am always right (though, generally, I am), but they have definitely got it all wrong! They say...

It's Not Necessary. In early 2009, many of us were lucky to have a job, let alone be appreciated for doing it. After all, if we weren't grateful for the luxury of being paid to do our own work, plus the work of others who had been downsized, then our employers could easily replace us with someone who would be. Sound harsh? Yes, but not far from the truth in many companies' minds. But, just as no recession can stay around forever, no employee will either. What we learned during those shaky times that are just now beginning to stabilize is that employee recognition is more important than ever. It helps you maintain commitment when you're forced to ask you team to do more. It improves morale when the worry of "Am I next?" is on everyone's minds. And, it will help you retain loyalty once the pastures begin to green again. Read more convincing evidence here

It's Expensive. Last time I did it, I noted that saying thank you only cost me a breath. And giving a high five (woefully) only totaled one calorie burned—two, if I was extra-enthusiastic. Verbal thank yous and gestures of appreciation can go a long way when you're short on cash. But, even when shoutOut they're frequent, they can be easily forgotten once the moment has passed. Handwritten notes can help give some longevity to your recognition—after all, how many people, after receiving and reading a thank you note, hide it away? Most of us put them up to remind ourselves that what we do matters. The good news if you're the note giver is that it can be as little as a 50 cents to say thank you. Less than a candy bar and a lot less than latte!

It's Time Consuming. Giving employee recognition is only as lengthy and as drawn out of a process as you decide to make it. If you keep notes and rewards on hand, giving them at the right time can be pretty quick, without seeming hasty or rushed. Or insincere. Carve out five to ten minutes at the start of each day and think about the work that's being done on your team. Ask yourself, "Who stood out this week and why?" Now you have the basis for your note—just grab one from your stash, write it down, and deliver!

It Doesn't Work. For those who say this, I always have to wonder: maybe they're not doing it right… Are they only recognizing years of service—and not until a five-year anniversary? That's a long time for team members to wonder if they're doing a good job. Chances are most of them will be gone before then. So, yeah, that doesn't work. Recognition does work if it's frequent, meaningful, and fitting. It doesn't if it's exclusionary, delayed, and/or rote.

It's Only for "A" Players. Many issues people have with employee recognition is that they feel it isn't given fairly and that really only the rock stars are getting it. That may be true if managers believe that those employees are the only ones deserving. But, recognition is important for everyone—potentially even more for those who aren't performing above & beyond. Words of encouragement and boosts of confidence can turn an average employee into a stellar one. Check out this article to see what I mean!

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Allison is currently living out the elaborate fantasy she described to her now-former staff and colleagues in early 2001. With a hearty dose of courage and absolutely no plan of action, she abruptly left her middle-management job to become a writer—and today she is doing just that in her role as Baudville’s Senior Content Writer. She’s here to tell you everything she’s learned in her 20-years+ professional life, plus a lot more. She’s wordy like that!

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