How Frequent Should Employee Recognition Be?

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We know that rewards and recognition are great motivators for employees. But how often should we be recognising employees? Does it depend on industry? Should we be looking at this on an individual level?

Bersin by Deloitte research showed that:
“modern, re-engineered recognition programs can have a huge impact on business performance. Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a "recognition-rich culture" actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates! This is a huge statistic. Most CEO's would pay millions of dollars to reduce voluntary turnover (this is when good people leave on their own). It turns out that a well-designed recognition program can achieve this result.”

Josh Bersin (founder of the company) says, “our research definitely shows that 83% of the organizations we studied suffer from a deficit in ‘recognition’ And these companies are under-performing their peers.”

Is Employee Recognition Important?

A common complaint from voluntary leavers (i.e. those who quit their jobs) is a lack of appreciation and a feeling that they are taken for granted. And this feeling can occur at any time. So the more traditional ‘annual review’ or Christmas bonus is too infrequent for today’s employee. A year or six month wait to receive any positive feedback is just too long. According to a Gallup series of studies, on the whole, employee recognition has a shelf life of about a week -waiting any longer than this will result in the recognition having little effect on the employee’s esteem.

How Much Employee Recognition Is Too Much?

Surely there can’t be too much praise heaped on employees? Well, actually there very much can. After a while, too much praise can start to feel a little forced, or false even. Especially if it is from managers rather than peers. Make peer-to-peer recognition as easy and frequent as possible. People who do great things are more visible to their co-workers and the workforce starts to build up an idea of what constitutes great work according to their peers. Just make sure that a bit of direction is given on what should be praised.

Recognition Frequency

It’s hard to define exactly how frequently employee recognition should be happening. We would always recommend taking into consideration your employees, teams, industry. But broadly speaking, recognition should fit the occasion.

Pyramid with top, mid and low value prizes

The higher the value of the recognition reward, the lower the frequency. So a simple thanks from a co-worker can happen as frequently as an employee does recognisable work. On the flipside, the more exceptional or high value rewards should be saved for special occasions such as long service awards or an annual award.

Recognition should be a real-time process, with no great work going unthanked! Don’t shelve achievements until appraisal time. Recognition of group projects or larger pieces of work should be done on a monthly basis ideally. Performance that needs verbal recognition should be more frequent - a simple conversation about accomplishments or hard work.

The Element Of Surprise

If you continually thank the same group of employees in the same way - with a lunch for instance, that lunch becomes less of a reward and more of an expected event, and entitlement. Creating random recognition keeps employees on their toes, constantly looking for ways that they can prove their talent and dedication (this is called discretionary effort).


There is always room for praise at work, and the more innovative, frequent and positive it is, the better. If you’d like some expert advice about how employee recognition could work for your company, give us a call on 020 7820 8800.