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Recognition Intervention Strategies

Informal Employee Recognition [2.5.1]

Because employees want to be valued and appreciated, informal recognition of employees’ accomplishments has the potential to positively impact both individual workers and the organization as a whole. Informal recognition can be described as the use of positive reinforcement without material rewards. For example, informal recognition can consist of a simple note or a verbal “thank you.” It differs from formal recognition, in which rewards such as gifts, money, and certificates are granted.

Since most organizations use informal recognition as an adjunct to other interventions, it is difficult to measure its value. However, organizations that have implemented informal recognition programs have reported significant improvement in employee morale and increased trust in and loyalty to the company.[1] Although no definitive studies exist, it is also thought that organizational resiliency may be enhanced.

More potential tangible payoffs, which may also enhance a company’s bottom line, include:
  • Fewer grievances;
  • Increased ability to overcome obstacles;
  • Lower absenteeism;
  • Lower turnover rates; and
  • Greater satisfaction and effectiveness with the performance appraisal process.
Many organizations adopt formal recognition programs without considering the lower cost and high benefits of informal recognition processes. Informal recognition is inexpensive; most of the cost is in minimum time away from the job for training in recognition techniques.

Since the product of informal recognition is individual behavioral change, organizations can expect a lag time of 6 months or more before seeing results. Informal recognition is not a quick fix; organizations that lack the discipline or perseverance to work through behaviors that require a year or more of effort will not be successful. However, the potential payoffs of persistence in utilizing informal recognition include a shift in the organization’s culture to one of appreciation and gratitude.

Additional information on informal employee recognition is available through these WDRC resources:

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