Appreciation vs Recognition – Which One Matters Most?

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Like the phrase To-may-toes, To-mah-toes, it is no surprise that recognition and appreciation are commonly misunderstood and interchangeably used.


Showing appreciation and recognition to employees is essentially important in any organisation as these are the two things that could boost and drive employee engagement.


There is a huge difference between these two important words, despite the common usage at the workplace.


Recognising the differences is crucial if companies wish to create strong employee engagement in their organisations.



What is Recognition?


Employee recognition is positive acknowledgement of the results or performance of employees, and this can be both through formal (award, bonus, promotion) and informal (handwritten ‘thank you’ note) ways.


Everyone wants a ‘pat on the back’ to make them feel good, and recognition is an excellent way to do so.


However, there are some constraints to recognition that managers have to bear in mind whenever recognition is in order.


Most recognition is performance-based of past achievement, which makes it conditional to get one.




Besides, only a limited number of recognitions can be given at a time, making the employees become stressful to contend for a limited amount of ovation.


In fact, major forms of recognition, promotions and raises for instance, are usually awarded by senior managers who have the least amount of contact with non-managerial employees.


Researchers from the London School of Economics found that financial incentives can actually backfire when it comes to motivating employees, which makes monetary award the least recommended method to motivate employees in this millennium age.


What is appreciation?


On the other hand, appreciation is about acknowledging the inherent worth of employees as a person.


Appreciation is the foundation to build trust and connection between human beings, built between colleagues, customers, managers or even partners.


The best part is, appreciation does not cost even a single dollar. You just need to put your phone and pen away, and just genuinely listen to others.


On top of that, always tell remarkable traits of others so they are constantly reminded they are good in something and actually, someone cares for them!



Appreciation or Recognition then?


So, which one do we need to acknowledge employees? Does recognition worth more than appreciation as it offers more monetary compensation?


Or appreciation is better as it fairly appreciates employees and there is no limited volume of it?


Reality is, both recognition and appreciation are essential and interdependent in a workplace.


Recognition is about what people do whilst appreciation is about who they are as a person.




The distinction exists as they are given for different reasons. For every success, there will be inevitable failures and challenges along the way.


At times, tangible results may be unavailable. If the focus is entirely on praising positive outcomes, recognition gives lots of opportunities to connect with and support team members.


It is time to do some homework. Make it a daily habit to constantly recognise and appreciate your colleagues, even for the tiniest effort they do on the day.


We at Feet's are determined to help companies do just that! Start sending out HighFives to colleagues and make them feel the appreciation.



Keep your eyes open and you will notice the warmth in your department. Try Feet's today!

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