What is the Psychology of Recognition at Work?
The psychology of recognition is a fascinating area of study that explores the way in which people perceive and respond to recognition from others. Recognition has a positive psychological impact on performance, and we’ll explain how so. It’s not rocket science, it’s just science 🧪
Why does Recognition feel so good?
Recognition can elicit positive emotions and feelings that contribute to a sense of well-being and fulfilment, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and a positive work environment. Let's dig in!
Recognition can release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in the brain, which are neurotransmitters associated with feelings of happiness, well-being, and social connection. Here's how each of these neurotransmitters is related to recognition:
- Dopamine: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. When individuals receive recognition for their achievements, it can activate the release of dopamine, which can lead to feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
- Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. When individuals feel valued and appreciated through recognition, it can increase serotonin levels in the brain, leading to a greater sense of contentment and fulfillment.
- Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with social bonding and connection. When individuals receive recognition, it can foster a sense of connection and trust with others, leading to increased oxytocin levels in the brain and a greater sense of social support.
Did you know that people who work under the influence of oxytocin exhibit higher levels of productivity and are more reliable? 🤔💡
Why do employees need recognition?
Recognition is a basic human need that has been studied extensively in psychology. The desire for recognition is deeply ingrained in human nature, and it is often tied to our self-esteem and sense of identity. When we receive recognition for our efforts, it reinforces our self-worth and motivates us to continue striving towards our goals. Conversely, when we feel overlooked or undervalued, it can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
- Validation: Recognition can provide a sense of validation for an individual's hard work and efforts, confirming that their contributions are valued and appreciated.
- Self-esteem: Recognition can boost an individual's self-esteem and confidence, which can lead to feelings of pride and accomplishment.
- Connection: Recognition can foster a sense of connection and community within an organization, as employees feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with their colleagues.
- Motivation: Recognition can increase motivation and engagement, inspiring individuals to continue striving for success and contributing to the organization's goals.
- Gratitude: Recognition can also evoke feelings of gratitude, as individuals feel grateful for the acknowledgment and appreciation of their work.
The different types of recognition
There are several different types of recognition, each with its own unique impact on human behaviour. Verbal recognition, such as praise and compliments, is one of the most common forms of recognition. It can be given in public or private settings and can have a powerful effect on people's self-esteem and motivation. Nonverbal recognition, such as a pat on the back or a smile, can also be effective in acknowledging someone's efforts and achievements.
Tangible recognition, such as rewards and bonuses, is another form of recognition that can be highly motivating. It provides a concrete measure of success and can incentivize people to work harder to achieve their goals. However, it is important to note that tangible recognition is not always necessary or appropriate, and it should be used in conjunction with other forms of recognition to be most effective.
Recognition can also be classified as formal or informal. Formal recognition typically takes place in a structured setting, such as a performance review or awards ceremony. Informal recognition, on the other hand, is often more spontaneous and can occur in everyday interactions between people. Both forms of recognition are important and can have a significant impact on human behaviour.
- Verbal Recognition: This type of recognition involves expressing appreciation and gratitude through verbal communication, such as saying thank you or giving positive feedback.
- Written Recognition: This type of recognition involves expressing appreciation and gratitude through written communication, such as thank-you notes, emails, or messages.
- Tangible Recognition: This type of recognition involves giving tangible rewards to employees, such as gift cards, plaques, or certificates.
- Promotional Recognition: This type of recognition involves recognizing an employee's hard work and contributions through a promotion or career advancement.
- Team-Based Recognition: This type of recognition involves recognizing the efforts and contributions of a team, such as team celebrations or group awards.
- Peer-to-Peer Recognition: This type of recognition involves colleagues recognizing the contributions and achievements of their peers, such as shout-outs or nominations for awards.
- Public Recognition: This type of recognition involves acknowledging an employee's hard work and contributions publicly, such as during team meetings or company-wide events.
- Formal Recognition Programs: These are structured recognition programs designed to recognize and reward employees for their hard work and achievements, such as employee-of-the-month programs, incentive programs, or annual awards ceremonies.
The impact of Recognition on employees
The impact of recognition on human behaviour is multifaceted. When people receive recognition for their efforts, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their work. They also tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction and are more committed to their organization. In addition, recognition can foster a sense of belonging and community among individuals, which can have positive effects on mental health and wellbeing.
On the other hand, the absence of recognition can lead to negative outcomes, such as decreased motivation, lower job satisfaction, and higher levels of stress and burnout. When people feel undervalued or overlooked, it can erode their sense of self-worth and lead to feelings of resentment and disillusionment.
Here are some key findings about the impact of Recognition on employees:
- 82% of employees are happier when they’re recognised in the workplace, and those who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to quit. (Shopify, 2023)
- Recognized employees are 73% less likely to feel burned out (Work Human, 2023)
- Employee recognition lowers turnover rates: employees are 5 times less likely to leave (Work Human, 2023)
- Organizations that spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition have 79% lower turnover rates than organizations that spend less than 1% (Bersin & Associates)
This all suggests that employee recognition has a significant impact on motivation, employee turnover, job satisfaction, and productivity, and that organizations can benefit from implementing recognition programs to retain top talent and improve overall performance.
Why does recognition motivate employees?
Recognition helps to create a positive work environment, fosters a sense of appreciation and respect for employees, and can increase motivation and engagement, leading to improved job performance and productivity. Recognition can motivate employees in several ways:
- Acknowledgment of Hard Work: Employees who feel that their efforts are recognized and appreciated are more likely to feel motivated to continue working hard.
- Increased Sense of Belonging: Recognition can create a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization and its goals, which can increase motivation.
- Boosts Self-esteem: Recognition can boost an employee's self-esteem and confidence, which can lead to increased motivation to continue performing at a high level.
- Sense of Accomplishment: Recognition provides employees with a sense of accomplishment and validation for their hard work, which can motivate them to continue striving for success.
- Reinforcement of Positive Behaviour: Recognition can reinforce positive behaviour and performance, which can motivate employees to continue exhibiting those behaviours and performing at a high level.
When people receive recognition for their efforts, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and satisfied with their work. As such, it is important for individuals, organizations, and societies as a whole to prioritize recognition as a means of fostering positive outcomes and promoting wellbeing.