During this year’s WorkHuman Conference hosted by Globoforce, keynote speaker Shawn Achor made the comment that employees never get tired of praise.
At first, I totally agreed. Especially when you hear statistics like the ones from the WorkHuman Research Institute that found 21 percent of respondents have never been recognized at work and 33 percent haven’t been recognized in 6 months. Even people who do not thrive on recognition, need more praise than that. It’s obvious if employees receive little or no recognition then of course they wouldn’t tire of it. (On a side note, if you want the full report, you can download it here or you can listen to this webinar with me and Derek Irvine from Globoforce.)
But if employees actually received recognition – I mean timely, specific recognition in a way that was meaningful – could it ever be too much? At that point, doesn’t it come down to what employees are being recognized for? For example, here are two pieces of recognition:
“Bob, I wanted to let you know that the report you submitted this morning for the meeting was exactly what the sales team needed. We were able to make some key decisions about the ABC account thanks to your analysis.”
“Bob, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you coming to work on time today. Showing up exactly at 8:30 like your schedule says is tremendously helpful to the operation”
In both cases, the recognition is timely, specific and shows the positive consequences of the employee’s actions. But I can’t help but think that the second one is a bit flat, unless the employee has been having an attendance issue. Then it’s a very welcome comment.
I don’t know that employees want praise in quantity. They do want recognition and they want it to be sincere. But I think they also want it to be deserving. So, there might be a fine line between just right and too much.
I’m curious. What are your thoughts? Could employees get tired of recognition? I hope you’ll take a moment to answer our completely unscientific poll:
I look forward to seeing your responses. I can see all sides of this situation. As always, I’ll share the results in a couple of weeks.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History after speaking at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.