Enough pat on the back: Here’s why organisations need to formalise recognition


Fragmented pats on the back or random e-mails acknowledging great efforts or achievements, would not have the same effect as instant and continuous recognition efforts

Monetary rewards may certainly have what it takes to keep people motivated to perform but nothing can take away the impact of acknowledgement and due recognition of efforts to keep people giving in their best. More than this, it is timely recognition in mixed ways that does the job. In his study, social scientist and New York Times author, Dan Ariely found that lack of acknowledgment of a job well done, and more importantly, downright dismissing a person’s work, has a crushing effect on workers.

Now, for organisations to be able to do that in a consistent, planned manner, there needs to be a system in place. Fragmented pats on the back or random e-mails acknowledging great efforts or achievements, would not have the same effect as instant and continuous recognition efforts. Cumulatively, however, these can work wonders for businesses that realise the value of recognising and rewarding employees.

Sanchayan Paul, a senior rewards leader is of the view that for employee recognition, there is a hierarchy of interventions that organisations can do to keep their people motivated and engaged with the business mission. “A good mix of systemic interventions— that includes career progression opportunities, international exposure, cross-functional projects, or monetary recognition programmes— backed by a framework that sets out ‘when you get what and why’, makes for a holistic recognition mechanism. And, it includes the pat on the back and popularly used initiatives such as ‘employee of the month’ etc. ” he says.

Sanchayan Paul

Paul explains that recognition interventions or programs are similar to a pyramid, and as you go higher up, getting a framework and dashboard in place—that defines criteria and parameters and also keeps track of delivery & impact of such programs, becomes essential. Yet, as organizations strive to do all this, it is the base of the pyramid that needs to be strong, which is the basic acknowledgement by managers of good work and instant recognition of performance delivered on a certain day.

Talking of the benefits of a formal and systemic approach to recognition, Sanjeev Parkar, executive director, ?PricewaterhouseCoopers says that anything that’s informal, lacks transparency and is difficult to administer on a continuous and accurate basis. He further suggests that organisations carefully identify what they want to recognise, and reinforces the fact that consistency is extremely important for recognition initiatives. “Random, knee-jerk reactions do not have a significant impact,” he opines.


“Check this space to get more insights on creating a comprehensive and holistic employee recognition platform that is inline with today’s millennial employees.”


Sanjeev Parkar

At the same time, he warns that recognising a wrong person could send out a wrong message across the staff and inconsistent or informal practices always run the risk of getting influenced by such biases. This can only be controlled through a formal, technology-driven, systemic and mechanised approach to recognition. “Instant recognition is important, but when not documented or done on a continuous and structured basis, the impact can be lost quickly,” he explains.

Adding to the list of benefits of a formal approach, Paul says that an annual rewards plan backed by a very short term, instant monetary recognition program along with regular feedback can go a long way in engaging & shaping employee behaviour to the organizational objectives as compared to waiting for a whole year for the annual appraisals and related pay-outs . In line with that, his organisation empowers line managers to recognize stand-out performance & desired behaviours, with an instant cash reward system that has manager-specific budgets allocated for each quarter.

The extent to which an organisation needs to digitise or formalise its recognition mechanisms is dependent on the ideology and the size of the organisation. Last but not the least, for any of this to fall in place, it is important for organisations to align their efforts with their business objectives and then choose the plan carefully.

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