Appreciation and Recognition – The Key to Job Satisfaction and Engagement

People put a lot of effort and energy into their work in order to succeed and expect their dedication to be valued and recognized. It is a matter of basic human needs, and it is also related to the core of personality – everybody needs recognition and appreciation. When team members contributions are constantly valued, they try to do their best, thus creating a high performance culture. By contrast, when they work in an environment of low or no recognition, they are caught in a vicious circle of declining performance, apathy and lack of cooperation. And in the latter case, many of them adopt this philosophy: “If you don’t care about my effort and job, I won’t care about quality, time and resources“.

The main challenge in the human resources management areas (HR) is to generate engagement: It is the key to raising productivity and pushing the “bottom line” of companies. The main dilemma is how to do it. The first point –and one of the most important ones – is recognition. Employees feeling valued motivates satisfaction, engagement and productivity. That’s why recognition and appreciation should be part of strategic HR decisions, and should be assimilated into the organization´s culture.

Gratitude – A Rarely Found Attitude

Expressing appreciation in the workplace is not common practice. A study commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation found that only 30% of people express gratitude to co-workers, and only 20% thank their boss several times a week, whereas 35% never thank their boss and 29% never thank a co-worker. In another Globoforce research[1] 55% of employees said they´d leave their current jobs for an organization with better recognition efforts, and 82% said that being recognized motivated them. “Recognition has not only become part of our dialogue, it has become a fundamental way in which we evaluate our company cultures and our jobs. Across the board, recognition equates to motivation and success not only for employees, but for employers”[2].

According to a TINYpulse´s report[3], almost 80% of employees said that they were feeling undervalued and under-appreciated, and a mere 21% felt strongly valued. Just 1 out of 4 employees felt fully recognized for doing great work.

Recognition Changes Everything

A recent Gallup poll highlighted: “There’s a gap between what a company thinks it’s doing to appreciate great work, and what its employees see happening on a day-to-day basis: Only 7% of employees say their company is excellent at appreciating great work, while 56% of management say their company is above average at appreciation. Only 14 % of people are satisfied with their jobs, and nearly 80 % mentioned lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving their jobs. Employees want some form of recognition every 7 days, but research shows that just over 50% of leaders recognize their employees once a quarter or less”[4].

A wide range of research reveals appreciating great work increases employee engagement significantly. Another benefit is a shift in the perceived sense of community: “With more and more companies focusing on collaboration and team effort, building a sense of community among coworkers is crucial – and one way to do so is through gratitude”[5]. Besides, expressing gratitude not only makes the receiver feel good, but also the thanker: 88% of employees reported that expressing gratitude to colleagues makes them feel happy and fulfilled, and our research reveals that both giving and receiving support is linked to job satisfaction, engagement and happiness”[6].

Employee Recognition Tools

Within this context, leaders need three things:

  1. An easy way to recognize great work.
  2. To know what is appropriate to recognize.
  3. A variety of tools and ideas to help them do it.

It’s been proved that when leaders have the right tools, “they express appreciation and recognize the accomplishments of their people more often. And when that happens, engagement soars because appreciation changes everything”[7].

At Intraway, for instance, we developed a reward & recognition program to thank our employees with a variety of tools and regularity:

  1. Daily performance recognition – Every employee can recognize a teammate through an online platform on one of three categories of `kudos´ (Thank you, Good Work and Amazing) which provide different quantity of credits. This app, created as an internal social network, shows online every gratitude interaction between people involved, and all the details about the milestone, help, achievement, etc. Each kudo should be related to a company core value, that’s why it is also a culture enhancement tool.
  2. Quarterly awards for performance – both for individual and group performance.
  3. Annual performance bonuses – both for performance and tenure.

Blogpost2 Imagen A&R final

By celebrating small successes and recognizing good performance we generate engagement and satisfaction, boost morale and improve productivity. As Pablo Neruda said in his wonderful Ode to ThanksThanks, you’re the medicine we take 
to save us from 
the bite of scorn.
 Your light brightens the altar of harshness (…) We know, thanks, that you don’t fill every space – you’re only a word – but
 where your little petal
 appears, the daggers of pride take cover,
 and there’s a penny’s worth of smiles”.


Do you like to be recognized? Do you agree that recognition leads to engagement and happiness at work? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!



[1] GLOBOFORCE. Spring 2012 Globoforce Mood Tracker.

[2] GLOBOFORCE. Spring 2012 Globoforce Mood Tracker.

[3] TINYpulse. The 7 Key Trends Impacting Today`s Workplace.

[4] EMMONS, Robert. Gratitude Works! The Science of Gratitude in the Workplace.

[5] BUOTE, Vanessa. Gratitude at Work: Its Impact on Job Satisfaction & Sense of Community.

[6] BUOTE, Vanessa. Gratitude at Work: Its Impact on Job Satisfaction & Sense of Community.

[7] EMMONS, Robert. Gratitude Works! The Science of Gratitude in the Workplace.

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