Gratitude: The Power of Employee Recognition

In research we conducted last year, only 1 in 2 employees had received any recognition from their employer since the pandemic started. Fast forward a year later, and I am not sure much has changed.

Employee recognition is the most basic way that companies can improve the employee experience. It is saying “thank you” in a way that is frequent and meaningful. For any company struggling with retention, engagement, or “The Great Resignation,” recognition is a good place to start.

Companies that invest in strategies and technology to recognize and motivate their employees are more likely to improve the employee experience. Recognition is one of the most powerful tools available to organizations, yet it is often ignored. When employees feel recognized and empowered, they are more likely to contribute or organizational goals, achieve performance objectives and stay with their employer.

So, what is holding most companies back? For starters, recognition is often done only around employee anniversaries. Employees get an email or a certificate, or a company mug. It is not consistent, and it doesn’t provide the motivation when employees need it most.

A few strategies for companies looking to improve recognition:

Invest in Social Recognition: Companies that invest in social recognition software can create a culture where managers and peers consistently recognize each other in a frequent and meaningful way.

Empower Managers: Managers often lack the tools and resources they need to recognize their employees. Providing solutions that empower managers to recognize employees and hold them accountable will increase recognition efforts and the overall employee experience.

Measure the Results: Recognition will not impact the overall employee experience unless organizations systematically measure recognition efforts and adjust their programs accordingly.

Companies should also consider how technology can improve recognition. With 47% of companies increasing their investment in employee experience technology, employee appreciation should be part of the equation. Achievers, OC Tanner, and Work Human are all providers that focus on employee recognition. But recognition is also starting to emerge in other areas of HR Technology, including employee engagement surveys, project management tools, wellbeing, and mental health solutions. The good news is that today’s companies have options for motivating employees and showing appreciation.

As companies get ready for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, a simple “thank you” to employees can go a long way.


  • Madeline Laurano

    Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today. In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).