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About recognition

Recognition and reward programmes can be a great way to recognise and reward the efforts and contributions of a team. It is also a great way to encourage and communicate your ideal company culture, and foster a culture of gratitude and appreciation.

Why does recognition and appreciation matter?

We all have basic human needs that we aim to meet in our daily lives. Two specific needs relate to our interaction and engagement with our teams and communities. The first, is the need of belonging to the groups we function in, and the second, is the need to feel valued for our contributions to those groups. When these needs aren't met, it becomes very difficult for a person to truly engage with their teams or groups. It is also unlikely for any person to consistently contribute with their full potential, when they feel that those needs aren't met. However, when a person feels included in the team, and receives authentic appreciation for their efforts, both of these needs are met and they can increase their level of engagement with the group.

Recognition programmes can speak directly to the needs of belonging and esteem (feeling valued) through addressing the questions of: Do people feel they fit in at work? and Do people feel good about themselves and their efforts at work?


When you use sincere recognition and appreciation to address the questions of belonging and feeling valued, you are tapping into a great opportunity to build (and rebuild) trust in your teams. This is essential for team collaboration and performance.

How do we give recognition?

Although we've gotten used to quarterly, bi-annual, or annual ceremonies and celebrations at work, recognition is most appreciated when it is timeous. Life goes on, and therefore a 'thank you' six months down the line won't hold the same weight as an acknowledgement in real-time. It is also advised to make recognition visible to the rest of the company. This is important so that you can keep interaction transparent and also contribute towards momentum through story telling and awareness of what people are doing.

The top 5 best practices for recognition: (Bersin, 2012)

  1. Recognize people based on specific results and behaviours.
  2. Implement peer to peer recognition - not top down.
  3. Share recognition stories.
  4. Make recognition easy and frequent.
  5. Tie recognition to your own company values or goals.


Increasing the number of people that can provide sincere recognition (peer-to-peer) allows you utilise a network effect and ensure that no contribution goes unnoticed.