The psychology of employee recognition

And its impact on productivity

If you have picked up any book on modern management you will probably find a chapter that will talk about how people are more likely to be long term motivated and hence more efficient if they get recognition for their successes.

It’s not a secret, in fact, Employee Engagement first appeared as a concept in management theory in the 1990s and we use it in many of the aspects of our lives. From rewarding our children for behavior that we regard as positive, to getting recognition in our school and university and in sports competition. Recognition and rewarding of positive behavior is an essential tool in our society.

So, why are most companies still only incentivizing executives and sales and

what evidence is there to support that recognizing employees across all areas of the business has a direct impact on the company culture?

Let’s start with an example after Tradler provided the platform to over 20.000 mailmen in the Netherlands, we found out that after several days of rain and bad weather the rate of employee turnover significantly increased. We implemented a new milestone that would recognize and incentivize employees when they had a tough working day due to bad weather. Just a small gesture from company to employee, with a big impact. Employee turnover, after one year, dropped by 40%.

Now, this is just one example, but in Tradler we are seeing this across all of our customer base, be this in a customer service center, recruitment or logistical workers. Recognizing the work of the employees leads to a happier, motivated and loyal workforce.

But it’s not only the recognition from Management that counts. Another important part is the recognition between coworkers and peers. We are also seeing that when employees are given the opportunity to recognize their coworkers for doing a good job of helping each other out - they will, and with passion & creativity. Simple, nice messages that also carry points that can be exchanged for incentives. This is gaining more importance especially with large parts of the workflow moving towards a remote working environment.

So what is it from a psychological point of view that makes incentivizing so powerful?

From nature we are hunters and gatherers, we work and we get incentivized with the outcome of our work. Nowadays, we work and we get incentives with money - there is a gap that can be filled with positive reinforcement.

And as a consequence how does this affect productivity?

The article written by Emma Seppälä (Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project and Faculty Director of the Women’s Leadership Program at the Yale) and published in the Harvard Business Review states:

“Disengagement is costly. In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications”

The article comes to a similar conclusion that we have made at Tradler:

“In sum, a positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity”

We believe that it is time to integrate incentives and recognition for everybody. That’s why we founded Tradler.

How will this evolve in the future? Leave your comments and thoughts under this article.

Want to learn how you can boost your team’s productivity and gain business success through employee engagement? Get in touch. 

About us

Tradler is a cross functional Employee Engagement Platform helping customers improve engagement between Executives, Managers and Employees while increasing motivation and productivity through smart incentivising using gamification. If you’d like to learn more e-mail our Key Account Manager, Paul Lloyd.

Maryama Marong

Maryama Marong

Client Engagement Manager

"At Tradler, we believe in the power of positive affirmation through recognition and incentives. In our view, productivity and positivity go hand in hand, which directly translates to tangible business success."

Want to learn more about Tradler? Contact Paul Lloyd, our Key Account Manager, directly via email. Contact Maryama if you have any questions regarding our blog.