As I’ve been working on copy for an upcoming catalog, I wanted to find out just how much recognition and reward affect workers’ performance. Although the citations do not focus specifically on training and learning environments, a wealth of research strongly supports the effectiveness of formal and informal recognition. Here are some of the highlights:
A large number of studies over the years have verified that recognition is indeed a powerful reinforcer of employee behaviors leading to performance improvement. A Meta-analysis of 19 reinforcement theory studies revealed an average effect of recognition on performance improvement of 15% (Stajkovic and Luthans, 1997 ). This was followed by a more comprehensive meta-analysis that examined 72 reinforcement theory studies in organizational settings that found an average effect size of social recognition on performance of 17% (Stajkovic and Luthans, 2003 ). Finally, in a recent field experiment, informal recognition increased performance of workers in the manufacturing setting by 24% (Stajkovic and Luthans, 2001 ). …
A nationwide survey of US workers found that about 70% report that non-monetary forms of recognition provide the best motivation ( HR Focus, 1999). This same survey found that employees favor recognition from managers and supervisors by a margin of almost 2:1 over recognition from co-workers or other sources. (Nelson, 1994).
Fred Luthans and Alexander D. Stajkovic, “Provide Recognition for Performance Improvement.”
In a May 2011 article in the Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain how to “truly engage your workers.” They suggest:
“Help them see their own progress.” Workers’ diaries in a number of jobs show that good days are characterized by three things: progress, “catalysts”, and “nourishers”, and bad days are marked by the opposite: setbacks, inhibitors, and toxins.
Thanks to Kim Marshall and the Marshall Memo, for his brief synopsis of this great article. “The Power of Small Wins” by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in Harvard Business Review, May 2011 (Vol.89, #5, p. 70-80), no e-link available; the authors can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].
Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Energize Employess reports research indicating that the type of recognition employees appreciate most is to be recognized by people they work directly for. In fact, 78% of employees indicated that it was very or extremely important to be recognized by their managers when they do good work (Nelson 2004). The number one choice for recognition is sincere praise given in a timely manner with specific examples.