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Sep 19, 2012

The best practices around employee recognition and reward that I teach closely intertwine recognizing and valuing employees. That’s why this article on research out of Kenexa brought me up short.

I was tracking along, nodding my head in agreement with this part of the research:

Kenexa research found that the survey item ‘I receive recognition when I do good work’ has a norm score (across industries and countries) of 55 percent favorable. That is, on average more than half of employees feel they are recognized when they do a good job. Contrastingly, the survey item ‘I feel valued as an employee of this company’ only has a 41 percent favorable response, with 32 percent actually indicating an unfavorable response. This shows that on average less than half of employees feel valued and one third actually believe they are not valued.”

Not obvious to everyone?

Yes, our own research supports much the same findings with both recognition and “I feel valued” scores tracking terribly low. And then the article skewed in a way that made me sit back and think, “Perhaps what has been obvious to me for so long is not obvious to everyone.

These findings indicate that there is clearly a difference between recognising and valuing an employee. Recognition is typically tied to what we do – not who we are, while valuing is about acknowledging someone not merely for tasks, but for the deeper intrinsic worth they add to an organization by just being there.”

Again, yes, I agree with these basic definitions. Yet to me, the very purpose of recognition – indeed, why we call it strategic, social recognition – lies in helping employees understand how valued they and their efforts are by their peers, their manager, and the organization as a whole.

Bottom line: If you are not putting “valuing your employees” as a core element of your recognition program, you have failed to truly recognize employees. That’s why traditional “recognition” programs like perfect attendance that I wrote about yesterday are miserable “recognition” programs.

Do your employees feel valued in your organization, as well as recognized? Do you?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

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