Employee recognition

A Simple Mathematical Argument for Employee Appreciation

George Dickson
July 22, 2015
Table of Contents
Free Trial! No credit card required.
Get started with a Free Trial to see how effective & engaging our platform is. You'll get the full Bonusly experience like any paid user would. Invite teammates, & start recognizing & rewarding today!

Why pat someone on the back just for doing what they're already supposed to do?

People occasionally ask this in reaction to the concepts of peer recognition and employee appreciation.

Management and people operations don't need to devolve into fluffy endeavors, nor should everyone get a gold star for just showing up to work. ⭐ That being said, employee appreciation is more important than you might think.

This is a simple case for employee appreciation and recognition as an integral element of a results-driven approach to people management, with a little math to back it up.

Everyone has at least one experience in life where they've really strived to do an outstanding job at something and didn't receive much, if any, appreciation in return. It's unlikely that experience inspired them to continue exerting the effort required to produce those results time and time again.

Want our newest blog posts straight in your inbox? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter!

How employee appreciation really works

When someone does extraordinary work, they're incurring the cost of exerting the extra effort it takes to elevate their output to that level. They're not just 'doing what they're supposed to,' which is ordinary work—reaching goals and completing objectives. They're contributing more by surpassing expectations and doing extraordinary work.

Without any sign of appreciation or recognition for exerting the effort required to do that, there's little to no immediate incentive to repeat that behavior. A lack of appreciation and recognition incentivizes employees to simply 'do what they're supposed to,' because there's no difference in output correlated to the increased input required to go above and beyond that.

Without even discussing the impacts that employee appreciation has on overall engagement, there's a marked difference in the way an employee experiences their occupation.


Employee appreciation: now for the math

It's really pretty simple calculation employees make, whether they're doing it consciously or not:

🔢 Work just hard enough not to get fired = zero appreciation

🔢 Excel at work + strive to improve daily = zero appreciation

Without appreciation or recognition, performing above-average work can be a zero-sum endeavor.

Doing exactly what you're supposed to do is preferable if you're a toaster or a robot. And in case you haven't heard: employees aren't toasters or robots. 

If you're doing it right, an employee is hired because they're the best possible candidate for that position. They're someone that you're bringing on in hopes that they will excel beyond the job description and create a unique and lasting impact on the organization. 

One of the easiest and least costly ways to encourage that behavior is to visibly recognize and show appreciation for the many contributions employees make to your organization. Employee appreciation doesn't necessarily require a massive effort or resource investment on the part of leadership, and the returns can be massive.

There are several routes to a successful staff appreciation program. One of the easiest is through peer recognition. Peer recognition empowers employees with the autonomy they need to crowdsource recognition and build a culture of appreciation.

Building and maintaining a culture of appreciation and recognition in your organization ensures that the contributions that are being made aren't being ignored. When extraordinary contributions are given the recognition and appreciation they deserve, there's a much greater chance they'll happen more often. When extraordinary work happens more often everyone wins.

How are you working to show your staff the appreciation they deserve? Check out list of 45 Unique Employee Appreciation Ideas or download this awesome guide:

Share this article