Employees Won’t Notice If You Have Recognition – But Will Leave If You Don’t

george recognition

Let’s start with a riddle…

The poor have it.

The rich need it.

If you eat it you will die.

What is it?

I’ll answer it at the end of the post… trust me… it will connect.

While you’re thinking of the answer let’s have a quick chat. I’ve been noticing that the loud and monotonous drumbeat of reward and recognition gurus is getting more and more annoying. Right?

It’s always the same. Employees want recognition. Employees will be engaged if you recognize their efforts and contributions. If you don’t use social recognition you will lose employees – turnover will skyrocket, engagement will nose dive.

If you don’t believe me go out to Twitter or LinkedIn or wherever right now. I bet you won’t be able to go 2 minutes without seeing a post about recognition and engagement. All saying the same thing over, and over, and over and over. Almost like no one is listening.

Not almost – they aren’t.

My opinion is that managers don’t listen because the concept of recognition as a true lever for engagement and better employee relations seems trivial and almost juvenile. Many believe that once you enter the workforce as a grownup, the time for participation trophies is over. It’s time to “man/woman” up and go do your job. Cash that paycheck. That’s your recognition – cash.

I’ve had that conversation more times than I care to admit.

And I can’t fault the “logic.”

We are grownups. Well, most of us… And we do what we do to get that paper – not for the props. We work for money to get houses, TVs and McRib sandwiches. We don’t work to get noticed. Right?

Except we do.

We’re still human and we still need validation. And when Bobby down the hall gets paid the same as you – and he worships at the altar of George Costanza –  you can’t help but feel the paycheck just isn’t doing it for you. Are you really worth the same as Bobby? Does your paycheck adequately reflect the time and effort you put into your work? Probably not. And so you go looking for validation by proxy – more money.

So for those of you who think we are too mature for recognition here’s the truth:

No one stays at an organization because they get plaques.

But people leave if they don’t.

And that is the real truth.

And that is why there is this disconnect.

We DON’T stay for plaques. We don’t hang around waiting for recognition. No one would say that. Yet we leave if we don’t feel appreciated.

It’s the absence of recognition that has impact, not the presence of it.

So now back to the riddle. Did you figure it out?

The answer is “nothing.”

The poor have nothing.

The rich need nothing.

If you eat nothing you will die.

In the case of recognition – nothing has more impact than something.

Weird, right?

FOT Background Check

Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert is the Senior Director of Solutions Architecture at Creative Group Inc and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. Over the course of his career, Paul has worked closely with clients to design influence, marketing, motivation, incentive, loyalty, recognition and reward programs to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Paul is a recognized authority on incentives and performance motivation. Want to know what’s going to motivate your people to perform at their best and impact the bottom line? Want to know whether your service award program really means anything at all? Curious what psychological principles drive sales behavior? Paul’s your guy… unless you fervently bow down to Maslow. Check out his personal blog at "What Is Paul Thinking?" when you're tired of his FOT rants.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT