Not all workplace recognition giving is done well according to research by O.C. Tanner, with 30 per cent of U.K. employees admitting to feeling uncomfortable with how they are recognised at work. These insights are from O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report which collected and analysed the perspectives of over 36,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and business executives from 20 countries around the world, including 4,653 from the U.K.

The good news is that 66 per cent of U.K. employees feel appreciated at work with the same number believing that recognition is a crucial part of the workplace community. Unfortunately, not all organisations are giving recognition well – in a timely and personalised manner and with authenticity.

35 per cent of employees’ state that the recognition they receive is inauthentic and a similar number – 36 per cent – believe it’s meaningless.

“Regularly showing appreciation is proven to elevate the employee experience” says David Danzig, European Director from O.C. Tanner. “It increases engagement, loyalty, workplace connections and a sense of belonging so that a thriving culture is more likely. But recognition giving must be done well or it can have the opposite effect – making employees feel unseen, uncomfortable and thoroughly unappreciated.”

Examples of giving recognition poorly can include a general “thanks” to a team rather than calling-out individuals’ particular achievements; only recognising top performers’ results rather than all employees’ efforts and achievements; and waiting until year-end to give recognition rather than giving it regularly and in a timely fashion. Understanding each individual’s specific needs and preferences when it comes to how they receive recognition also helps to avoid potentially awkward and embarrassing situations.

With O.C. Tanner’s report finding that 60 per cent of U.K. employees believe that more recognition for their work would improve their workplace experience, it’s clear that organisations must get recognition giving right if they’re to enjoy the full benefits.

Danzig says, “When giving employee recognition, a blanket approach can’t be taken. It must be individualised, with the recipient’s particular contributions called-out and praised. And where possible, it should be done publicly in front of managers and peers to elevate the moment and make it memorable. If recognition giving becomes like a conveyor-belt system, with little thought or personalisation, then it will do more harm than good!”