If you want to improve your workplace morale, keep up employee efficiency levels, and reduce the risk of turnover, your team needs to know that you care. There are a lot of ways to demonstrate this. Two of the most effective ways are through recognition and appreciation. Many leaders confuse these terms or believe that they mean the same thing, however, there is actually an important difference. 

In this article, we will review how you can effectively recognize and appreciate your team members, and discuss the best combination for motivating your team. 

Ways to Recognize Your Employees 

When you recognize a team member, you are giving him or her positive feedback based on past performance. This can come in the form of either bigger, more formal gestures, or smaller, more informal gestures. For example, an employee could get a raise, bonus, or promotion. You can also recognize a job-well-done with a hand-written thank you card or a shout-out at the next company meeting. 

Limitations of Recognition 

Recognition plays an important role in employee satisfaction, but it is important to realize its limitations: 

  • Performance-based: It is inherently conditional 
  • Based on the past: The work has already been accomplished
  • Finite amounts: Not everyone can get a raise or bonus every time 

For this reason, it is important that your managerial style does not depend on recognition alone. You should also be appreciating your employees. 

Recognition vs. Appreciation 

Appreciation is a little different than recognition. When you recognize an employee, you are praising them for the work they have done. Separately, when you appreciate an employee, you are praising them for who they already are. See the difference? 

Ways to Appreciate Your Employees

There are a number of ways that you can appreciate the members on your team. These are generally more subtle tactics that is less about saying or doing something, and is more about how you engage with your employees. This could include regularly checking in with your employees to make sure that they are happy and confident. You can also take the time to let them know that they are a valuable member of your team and that you are happy that they have a seat at the table. 

Aim for a Combination of Both

So, what is better: recognition or appreciation? Like most things in life, you should aim to find a happy balance between the two. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay at a company longer, however, recognizing their efforts is also important when it is earned and deserved. 


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash