I have read that employee engagement is actually declining among workers in the U.S. and across the world. Why is this happening, even though many companies and organizations are focusing more on employee recognition?

May 8, 2012 12:45 pm Published by

Employee engagement has been shown to be a powerful factor in predicting how well a company performs in the marketplace and is related to many positive factors in employees (productivity, longevity, creative problem-solving).  Unfortunately, researchers have found that the percentage of employees who are totally disengaged or are only marginally engaged in their work is at the lowest point since the concept has been measured (in 2007).  This is in spite of the fact that approximately 80% of companies have some form of employee recognition program.  How can this be? Managers are trying to show more recognition but employees are feeling more distant from their work?

In my interactions with employees it is clear they often feel cynical about employee recognition recognition programs — that the recognition is “political” (it is given to one department this month, another department next month), or that the managers are “just going through the motions” — that is, the recognition given is not genuine or sincere.  Additionally, often the “recognition” is not meaningful to the recipient — a special parking spot for the month, or a jacket with the company logo, or some relatively meaningless award certificate.

While employee engagement is a result of more than just feeling appreciated (it also includes a sense of having influence, and that the work you are doing is meaningful and makes a difference), unless supervisors and managers find out the languages and actions that are perceived as authentic appreciation and that the appreciation given is directly related to some characteristic or action unique to the recipient, they will continue to “miss the mark” and their employees will be looking for a better place to work.

For more information on the differences between recognition and appreciation, click here.


Published by
May 8, 2012 12:45 pm

1 Comment

  • Tom Short says:

    Totally agree with your thoughts. Employee engagement is about empowerment, being inspired and recognition. If you do not trust leadership or if you are not inspired by the vision of the company – your chances of being engaged are zero. So engagement starts fit first and hiring well. Then you need good communication from the top, a consistent message that you reinforce to the team with recognition. You need to let team members know how they are helping achieve company goals and how they support the values of the company. This is best done with timely, meaningful recognition and messages of appreciation.

    For the team to be empowered they also need to feel their ideas and feedback are valued. That does not mean you need to act on every idea but you need to let the team know you have heard them. This will create engagement and will lead to better collaboration and innovation.

    Creating engagement is difficult. Every manager is different and that complicates things even further. We built a product called Kudos (www.kudosnow.com) to address these issues by building platform that creates a foundation for engagement through communication and recognition. I invite you to demo kudos and let us know what you think.

    Tom Short

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