Celebrating Success in the Workplace

Annie Ferguson

After a tumultuous two years, it’s no surprise that employees are craving positive feedback more than ever. Yet there’s something further beneath the surface.

A deep psychological need drives us to seek affirmation from the earliest moments of our lives — from parents, friends and teachers. This extends into adulthood and thus our work lives. 

Many savvy companies have used this knowledge to develop well-thought-out employee recognition programs. Surprisingly, these efforts don’t have to include cash bonuses or an extra day off to be effective.

When it comes to feeling appreciated, it turns out employees are seeking meaning—something they’ll remember after the cash is spent or invested. In a recent study, Incentive Marketing Association found that a whopping 65 percent of employees preferred non-cash incentives for recognition of their dedication. 

Recognition may include:

  • Celebrating work anniversaries and completed projects
  • Recognizing those who have gone above and beyond
  • Expressing gratitude verbally or with a handwritten note 
  • Team lunches

These efforts lead to bonding among team members, a sense of belonging and the motivation to continue performing well.

Benefits to the company include:

  • Better employee retention
  • Increased engagement
  • Higher performance

The numbers bear this out when it comes to retention. Achievers, a provider of employee recognition and engagement solutions, conducted a study showing that more than 1,700 respondents agreed that recognition and rewards impact their decision to stay with their current employer. 

The top factors in staying with their current employer included interesting work (74 percent) and recognition and rewards (69 percent). Compensation was seen as a lower priority for the workers surveyed.

Recognition had a similar effect on engagement and performance. O.C. Tanner works to improve workplace cultures through personalized employee recognition solutions. The company studies employee engagement and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it. In a recent survey, respondents answered this question: “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?” 

The respondents answered in their own words, and 37 percent said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. Although other themes surfaced, recognition (affirmation, feedback and reward) was the most common. 

So, remember to celebrate that big anniversary or completed project like your company’s future depends on it — because it just might. And don’t forget to have fun in the process!


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