Praise over price: What does The Great Recognition mean for HR leaders?

The latest research from Achievers Workforce Institute shows that feeling recognized more positively impacts employee engagement, productivity, and advocacy than a fair salary.

The finding comes from the 2022 State of Recognition Report, based on a survey of more than 5,500 HR leaders and employees from around the world.

People who were recognized weekly were more likely to say they would recommend their company to others, that they rarely think about searching for a job elsewhere, and that they are their most productive self at work, compared to those who said their salary was fair.

Employee Recognition Graph

Learn more about the connection between recognition and retention. Download the 2022 State of Recognition Report today.

3 steps to building a culture of appreciative recognition

1. Model from the top

From senior leaders to frontline people managers, when individual contributors observe recognition behavior above them, they are more likely to emulate that for their peers.

People who say they are regularly recognized by their manager in a way that makes them feel valued are more likely to recognize others, contributing to an overall culture of recognition.

Recognition is also a powerful tool for managers to engage their employees as advocates. Those regularly recognized by managers are three times more likely to say they would recommend their manager to others. At AWI we call this your mNPS — Manager Net Promotor Score. Recognition is one of four factors of manager effectiveness that can strongly influence this marker of success.

View the 2023 Employee Engagement and Retention Report

2. Train on best practices

Encouraging specific behaviors requires both introducing them as early as possible as well as reinforcing them regularly. Training has clear benefits for introducing and reinforcing key behaviors. However, training is often seen as “one and done” — with an idea being introduced but hardly reinforced. Regular training is key to driving results, and it’s no different for recognition.

Regular training on recognition best practices is crucial for developing and nurturing a culture of recognition, and the data shows a disconnect between leaders and employees on the perception of training being provided. While nine out of 10 HR leaders say they provide recognition training to their staff at least once, this training is clearly not resonating with employees, with less than half saying they have received any training at all.

3. Invest in an effective tool

Scalability is a constant push across most business functions. HR leaders must not only find solutions that work, but solutions that scale, ensuring that as an organization grows and expands it is able to maintain and improve results. This is particularly true for recognition. It’s easy for a single team to have a strong culture of recognition, but how can HR expand that to every team, to every individual and every manager?

A key and powerful step is investing in an optimized recognition platform. AWI research shows that an optimized platform drives results, whereas a manual or ad hoc platform is unlikely to effectively support business objectives.

What does an effective recognition program look like? Get the one-page guide today.

As this body of research demonstrates, meaningful recognition is the most powerful lever available to move the needle on job commitment, engagement, belonging, and productivity. To be impactful, recognition must be both frequent and meaningful. It needs to occur often and be meaningful to support feeling welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected.

Get more practical steps to building a culture of recognition and find out how other companies are structuring their recognition programs in the latest State of Recognition Report from Achievers Workforce Institute.

Recognition and Retention Report

Profile image of author: Caitlin Nobes

Caitlin Nobes is the Senior Content Marketing Manager for Achievers Workforce Institute, an authority and trusted advisor to HR and business leaders. As the research arm of Achievers, the Workforce Institute collects, researches, and shares industry-leading content that helps leaders change the way the world works. Passionate about data-driven content, Caitlin has become an expert in the science of employee engagement. Connect with Caitlin on LinkedIn. Achievers’ employee voice and recognition solutions bring your organization’s values and strategy to life. Activate employee participation and fuel a culture of performance to experience data-driven business results. To learn more, visit

Stay connected

Get notified when new Engage blog posts become available.

cookie ×

We use cookies to help us understand how you use our site so we can show you personalized content and enhance your browsing experience.

Learn more by viewing our Privacy Policy