Current State

Brandon Hall Group research shows that praise and recognition have a big impact on employee engagement and retention. Building a culture of recognition and appreciation is critical to driving the trust and engagement needed to succeed in today’s business environment.

Impact of a Strong Recognition Culture


Brandon Hall Group research shows that most employers have formal recognition and rewards programs in which managers and peers can recognize their teammates for their accomplishments and behaviors. Some accomplishments and milestones can be rewarded with cards or gifts. But the most impactful recognition comes from managers and peers related to meaningful work. This type of recognition — transparent, values-based, specific and timely — is what builds a culture of recognition, which is proven to have a tremendous impact on business results.


Recognition is powerful because it drives several talent strategies that employers believe are important in general and particularly during times of disruption such as recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

Most Important* Talent Strategies to Excel After COVID-19 

Critical Question

• How do we foster a culture of recognition that motivates and inspires employees to do their best work and live the values of the organization?

• How do we embed recognition and appreciation into everyday interactions?

Brandon Hall Group POV

Too often, recognition is seen as a program or initiative but it should be a core behavior of leaders and team members. Like any other talent strategy, creating a recognition mindset and culture has many layers. Here are eight high-level strategies for success:

LINK RECOGNITION TO PERFORMANCE For recognition to have real business impact, it must be tied to performance. In some organizations, recognition is focused as much or more on tenure and attendance than as it is on meaningful contributions. This reduces its value. The best organizations leverage recognition to validate and reinforce behaviors that drive their values and business goals.

BE SPECIFIC, TIMELY Clearly state why the recognition was given. Let employees know what they did and the impact it had. Ensure it’s timely. Recognizing employees weeks or months later diminishes the accomplishment’s importance. It can be a disincentive for the behavior rather than a reinforcement because if an employee’s achievement was so good, why did it take so long to call it out?

MAKE RECOGNITION INCLUSIVE A true culture of recognition means consistent, performance-based recognition across the entire enterprise, at all employee levels, with no room for bias, unconscious or otherwise. Recognition must extend to all demographic groups, work teams, business units and locations wherever good work is being done.

The worst thing is to repeatedly recognize the same people. Our research shows that more organizations give recognition for “breakthrough achievements” than for “meaningful contributions.” “Meaningful” is relative to the employee’s role and previous or ongoing performance. If what the employee did had helped the team — even a little bit — and their actions are beyond their norm, recognition is a great way to reinforce the behavior so the employee will continue to take initiative.

LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY Inclusive recognition can be a tall order for any employer, especially large and widely dispersed organizations. But rewards and recognition technology — either a point solution or part of a talent suite — can be a powerful enabler. Through recognition walls and tools, these solutions can dramatically increase recognition and appreciation. Most solutions are functional on any device, so recognition can come at any time and place.

EMPOWER LEADER-EMPLOYEE CONNECTIONS To build a culture of performance-based recognition, individuals and groups must feel a connection with one another. In particular, employees yearn for deeper connections with leaders. They want meaningful experiences that empower them to take ownership of their goals and team objectives. Leaders should spend as much time as possible coaching, developing and building positive connections with their team members.

LINK REWARDS AND RECOGNITION TO OPPORTUNITY Especially in the lower levels or at remote locations of the organization, many employees lack opportunities for additional learning or expanded responsibilities. Without occasions to advance or have new experiences, recognition can seem hollow over time. Offering employees new opportunities — online learning, team projects, job rotations or whatever is most relevant — provides important links between recognition and performance.

PROVIDE TRAINING AND SUPPORT TO DRIVE A RECOGNITION MINDSET Don’t assume all employees understand how to give — or receive — recognition. This is especially true if the employees are in new situations or unaccustomed to recognition. Providing microlearning and performance support creates an additional level of support to drive recognition.

RECOGNIZE THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE Another strategy that is often overlooked acknowledging and perhaps rewarding employees who recognize others. The best way to drive more recognition is to acknowledge and celebrate people who are doing a great job.


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Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

Claude Werder

Claude Werder oversees Brandon Hall Group's analyst team, new product development, corporate development, the HCM Excellence Conference 2015, publishing, and social media and marketing strategies for Brandon Hall Group. In that role, he manages Brandon Hall Group’s research priorities, Membership Program and Member Center, and Brandon Hall Group’s exclusive KnowledgeBases of research data and HCM solution providers, services and products.