Vice President Global HR Workhuman
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Why recognition is an HR must-have

24th Sep 2020
Vice President Global HR Workhuman
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The toll of the global pandemic continues to wear on employees, many of whom are still working from home. According to blind, 73% of working professionals are burned out due to the stresses of coronavirus, which is triggering unhealthy work-life balance and concerns over job security. SHRM research into the impact of the pandemic on employees’ mental health also found employees are struggling with negative emotions and concentration.

So, how can leaders and HR professionals support employees through these difficult times, keeping them engaged while taking their mental health into account? They must turn to recognition and appreciation.

The power of recognising each other

Recognition is more than a simple internal practice and can provide emotional, physical, and social benefits, like being more alert, creating a stronger immune system, and even helping manage feelings of isolation and loneliness. Indeed, recognition is a proven and powerful force in building resilience against the stress employees are experiencing in today’s uncertain world.

One of the most effective ways to consistently and frequently express appreciation to employees is through social recognition. It’s not a new notion that employees want to be recognised for their work and praised for their successes. Workhuman research shows that recognition impacts engagement and connection in numerous, positive ways. Recognition also makes people feel acknowledged for being themselves and empowers them to do their best work.

Here are just a few other reasons why building a culture of appreciation through recognition is an HR must-have:

1.     Recognition creates connection

In these challenging times, not only is connection with others a basic human need, but it’s also essential to keeping employees happy and healthy. It also helps foster a sense of community between employees, wherever they’re working. With the pandemic causing feelings of loneliness and isolation, employees need to connect to their families, co-workers, and their company's mission more acutely than ever. By having their work and contributions recognised, employees feel valued and HR leaders and managers can build positive connections in an organic, authentic way. Connections built through recognition also help break down barriers and establish cross-functional relationships, helping everyone to see the good in everyone else.

2.     Recognition builds trust.

Employees who feel trusted by their employers feel safe bringing their whole selves to work, creating a psychologically safe, human-centred culture. Workhuman research found that workers recognised in the last month at companies that have been through a merger or acquisition in the previous year are nearly twice as likely to trust in their company's leadership team, compared to those who have never been recognised for their work (82% vs. 46%). For recognition to be effective in building trust however, a yearly performance review will no longer pass muster. Instead, HR leaders must encourage an ongoing, social, and public form of recognition to build a company culture of trust. This is where social recognition is crucial, as it enables others to take part in a recognition moment for a colleague. This peer-to-peer recognition uses the power of the company as a whole to celebrate others, creating a sense of community and a culture of trust along the way.

3.     Recognition reduces stress 

Social recognition and publicly recognising the hard work and contributions of team members helps decrease feelings of stress. Deloitte research found companies with high recognition levels have 31% lower voluntary employee turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures, and that employee satisfaction dramatically increases as a result of peer-to-peer recognition. Frequent recognition is a strong buffer against stress and helps build a strong sense of appreciation amongst employees, a vital tool during a crisis.

4.     Recognition fosters inclusion

We all want to be noticed and valued for our work. We also want to be included and feel part of the culture of an organisation, particularly if we are physically apart from our colleagues. Recognition is a key tool in helping bring people together and in valuing individuals for their contributions, regardless of race, gender, or wherever they might be working from. Connections built through recognition engender a greater sense of inclusion, something we all need in these unusual times.

While the future yet remains uncertain, HR and business leaders must look for ways to bring employees together, even if they cannot be together in person. Recognition is a powerful tool that can foster a sense of community, build lasting connections, and enable employees to help one another through this challenging period.

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