Appreciation at Work: Recognition is Not the Same as Appreciation

award-3You are the only superstar!” Being recognized for quality work can be satisfying. Unfortunately, it seems that acknowledgement is limited to  quarterly meetings or at the annual company party. Employees need regular doses of appreciation.

In this blog we will be exploring Recognition vs. Appreciation. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”   The book describes recognition as focusing on what the person DOES compared to appreciating who they ARE as a person.

All employees need appreciation. Most awards only give attention to the high-achiever. The people neglected are the team members and support staff that made the high performance possible. Nobody gets to the top alone. An award recipient may be the only one motivated by the public attention.

Many employee recognition programs don’t work. Recognition and rewards can be too narrow. Here are the top three limitations.

Limitation #1: Performance vs. Value of the Individual. High achievers may be ambitious or creative problem solvers. WHO they are helps them reach the desired results for the organization. There are also employees who are not ambitious. Their contribution could be in a more supportive role.Watching others get an award may not be motivating.

spotlightLimitation #2: Missing Half the Team. Recognition programs are usually restricted to Words of Affirmation or Tangible Gifts. The problem is that not everyone likes public attention. They may be embarrassed being in the spotlight. *Note to Managers: just because YOU may like public recognition does not mean your team members will.

awardLimitation #3 Top-Down Recognition. Generic recognition is not meaningful. It may feel fake to the recipient because it is required for each department. Individualized appreciation is received well in healthy working relationships.

Company recognition programs have limitations. Luckily, you and your colleagues can take the MBA assessment  to find out exactly what you need to feel appreciated and from who (subordinate, peer, supervisor). Expressing appreciation does not require a big budget.

Appropriately expressing appreciation can motivate each team member to reach his or her potential. When each employee feels valued, they are motivated to give the best of themselves. Two benefits that result from this are a positive emotional climate and increased productivity.

You don’t have to wait for the annual company picnic or a quarterly meeting to help a colleague feel valued. Regular doses of appreciation can make EVERYONE feel like a superstar.

Reflect & Share: (a) Why do you feel embarrassed by public recognition at work? –or – Why do you like public recognition? (b) What are some cost-effective ways to express appreciation other than Words of Affirmation or Tangible Gifts?

Review of 5 Languages of Appreciation: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts and Physical Touch


1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos



Filed under communication, Self-Growth

2 responses to “Appreciation at Work: Recognition is Not the Same as Appreciation

  1. Valorie

    Without continual appreciation at work, recognition programs are hollow efforts. The most effective leaders understand what each of their employees values and then make sure they give them daily does of what they value.

  2. Pingback: Appreciation at Work: Series Review | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

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