You’ve probably heard of the butterfly effect—the notion that one simple action, i.e. the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings, can trigger far-reaching consequences. Recognition has the same impact. Pat someone on the back one morning and the ripple effect of that recognition is immediately felt by the recipient and ultimately those around them.
Not only does the appreciated colleague have an immediate pep in their step, but their infectious good mood spreads throughout the team, and beyond, boosting everyone’s well-being, happiness, productivity and performance. Characteristics which help make your company a great place to work. The ‘ripple effect’ is turbo-charged once recognition goes beyond a private ‘Nice job, Jim’, over email to sharing Jim’s great work with the whole organisation via a dedicated social timeline.
Here’s what happens:
- Jim’s colleagues see the public recognition and chip in with their ‘Nice one, buddy’ comments, further raising the smile of an already smug-feeling Jim
- His colleagues will feel more inclined to emulate Jim’s great work as they’ll also want a piece of the recognition pie
- Soon enough, a culture of recognition will take hold as everyone is empowered to recognise the excellence demonstrated by those around them
- And as for Jim, he’s going to feel immensely proud, boosting his feelings of purpose, value and self-worth.
Don’t just take our word for it. Research on how the brain is affected by recognition shows that the ‘hypothalamus’ (which controls basic bodily functions such as eating and sleeping, and dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter) is heavily affected by feelings of gratitude. This means showing gratitude can increase a person’s wellness, increase better sleep habits, increase metabolism and lessen stress.
So far, we’ve only covered some of the immediate emotional and psychological effects of a recognising a co-worker, so we’re only just getting started. What we now want to focus on is the longer-term ripple effects of recognition on the output of a business. Other than an increase in employee engagement rates, organisations that put recognition at the core of their business see undoubtable additional positive impacts including:
- Lower staff turnover – valued employees will have an increased desire to stay, meaning they are less likely to look for another job
- Increased customer satisfaction – happier and appreciated people leads to a more positive customer experience, meaning your customers are also likely to stay more loyal
- Lower absenteeism – increased satisfaction will lead to less people wanting to take time of work due to stress or inability to carry out work due to mental health or wellbeing
- Increased focus – the desire to be recognised leads to increased productivity and better quality of work
The common ground between these benefits? They are all highly likely to lead to increased profitability. With so few companies measuring the impact of recognition (or not having the tools to do so) demonstrating ROI can always be a challenge. Our customer case study with ASDA is a great example of the changes made possible only through the power of recognition.