The Importance of Employee Recognition


As businesses have progressed and become more liberal towards the new generation a recent push towards employee recognition, rewards and engagement have moved to the forefront of company culture. Some companies have been more successful at this than others. There are challenges as many employees have specific needs, but if these are catered toward will allow them to do their very best work. Many tactics have been experimented with, but ultimately a leader must understand what separately motivates each of their employees.

“People leave when they don’t feel appreciated. That’s why we’ve made recognition a really high value. Our business is people-capability first; then you satisfy customers; then you make money.” -David Novak, CEO of YUM! Brands

David Novak, CEO of YUM! Brands, might be one of the best examples of understanding and implementing employee recognition. Having a less height on the totem pole to start this career, he quickly climbed to the top and completely turned around several of PepsiCo’s brands. There were several reasons, but his top priority as manager was employee recognition. Novak was first motivated when he was chatting with a group and they were praising an executive who was retiring. The executive started crying and Novak asked the gentleman why he was crying when his colleagues were praising him. The man replied, “Well, I’ve been with this company 47 years, and I didn’t know people felt this way.” Accordingly, Novak vowed that if he was ever a leader this would never happen and employee recognition would be of top significance (Pyrillis).

Clearly, one of Novak's main strategies was recognition and understanding of employee needs. Through his career he understood that every employee needed a different sort of recognition. Some employees are motivated by title, some by financial compensation, office quality, and the like. A quality leader takes the time to understand all of his employees and their differences. Giving one employee a nice desk when really all they need is the word “director” in their title is just wasting money; and the loftier desk can go to someone who values that over title.

Simple verbal and visual recognition matters as well. A thank you and good job improves anyones morale, so why wouldn’t a leader invoke positivity? Ultimately, awarding your employees builds a more effective worker and happier person. In turn, a leader is then building an effective and efficient culture. Novak cared about and dedicated so much time to his employees he turned around a failing enterprise into a multi-national billion dollar enterprise.

Undoubtedly, awarding and recognizing your employees is key to a successful company.

Source: Pyrillas, Rita, Finger Lickin’ Meets Rubber Chicken, Workforce, May 2016

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