Time and time again, employers have been told that employee recognition is important. Companies are spending billions of dollars to put programs in place that highlight teammates’ accomplishment, but how important is it, actually? 

Spoiler alert: It’s very important! 

Happy employees increase productivity, decrease turnover, generate higher profits and increase customer satisfaction, so I’d say it’s pretty darn important, wouldn’t you?

Looking Back on Maslow

If you’re still not convinced, let’s revisit high school to review the science behind recognition. If the mere thought of going back to high school has you cringing in fear, try to forget the braces and bullies and bear with me here. Abraham Maslow published a theory in 1943 called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” This five-stage system reflects what Maslow considered the universal needs of society, and remains very popular in classrooms and boardrooms today. 

In this theory, the first stage of human need is physiological, the basic need for food, water, and shelter. The second stage is safety, the need for personal and physical well-being. The third stage is love/belonging, the need for friendship and family. The fourth stage is esteem, the need to feel valued, respected and appreciated. The fifth and final stage is self-actualization, the realization of one’s full potential. 

Making Employee Recognition Work for Your Team

If you support this theory, then you agree that the desire to feel valued and appreciated is a universal need for every person, regardless of their career or employer. People simply want to feel their work is respected. This doesn’t mean recognition comes in a one-size-fits-all box, but that does mean that every single person working at your company wants to receive some form of an atta boy for their work. This yearning for recognition is innate and should not be ignored. 

What’s Next? 

Beyond Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which I encourage you to dig deeper into the associated research if you’re interested, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get started when it comes to employee recognition. For starters, we’ve shared some tips, tricks and plans to boost  employee recognition efforts right here, including my “5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Employee Recognition Plan” article. To take things one step further, join the conversation in the comments below or contact our team directly to see how we can build happier teams together!