Culture is the glue that binds a company together. Culture is about behaviors—what is expected, encouraged, and what’s allowed, in some cases.

One of the most effective ways to cultivate a high-performing team is often overlooked, or just not taken seriously, and that’s positively rewarding and recognizing your people.

Retention survey by INC Magazine
INC. Magazine examined perks that work today in the November 2014 edition. Employees were asked, “What would keep you with your current employer?” See how both flexibility and perceived support/recognition are cited as important–with no raise in salary required. Source: INC Magazine.

The power behind this concept is explored in Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s book, All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results.

Giving praise and reinforcing positive, value-driven behaviors might be one of the more simple ways to build a positive workplace, but that doesn’t mean all business people are convinced. (But that’s where Gostick and Elton come into the picture.)

The Power of Employee Gratitude and Praise is Backed by Science

A 2011 survey showed 65 percent of working Americans who were otherwise satisfied with their jobs, reported that they would work harder if they received some praise for their efforts. And for those not satisfied with their jobs, some of the cause can be connected to their immediate supervisors: researchers have found a correlation between the level of recognition a manager gives, and the loyalty of her workers.

Gostick and Elton, (also authors of The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution) argue that recognition does more than just engage teams: it drives big results. Case in point: they discovered that organizations most effective at “recognizing excellent” are up to three times more profitable than their peers on return on equity and operating margin.

Another example All In describes, if that’s not convincing enough: after KPMG implemented a top down and peer-to-peer recognition program, they saw employee engagement scores increase by 20 points.

Then what about company’s that have a great deal of people who aren’t engaged?

In organizations with low engagement levels, Towers Watson found that recognition coming from a direct supervisor can dramatically improve workplace morale. In fact, when managers recognized employee achievement in these cases, engagement increased almost 60 percent.

Stemming from the book All In, here are 4 questions to ask about your current recognition setup:

  1. Are you aware of how your praise is (at all) connected to someone’s internal drivers/motivators?
  1. How often are you, and other leaders, able to recognize people’s accomplishments?
  1. Are you able to consistently link praise and recognition with your company’s core values when it’s delivered?
  1. Do you have any way to know if your current reward or recognition structure is as effective as it could be?


Concepts in this blog are from the book All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.

For more on the graphic used in this blog, see INC. Magazine’s November 2014 Edition. The article from which this data is found is here.

This blog was written by Kim Sykes
Kim Sykes

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Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company.