Impacts of Employee Recognition on Psychological Functioning
Posted by Nikki Morrison on Fri, May 15, 2020 @ 01:27 PM

If your organization is not already focused on providing employees with a psychologically healthy workplace, the chances are that in the current climate, it’s at the forefront of managers’ and leaders’ minds. Roy Saunderson, Chief Learning Officer at our sister company, Rideau, shared a piece entitled “Employee Recognition Promotes Positive Psychological Functioning” that seems exceptionally relevant given our workforce’s present circumstances. Here, we provide a summary of his findings, adapted from the original piece.

First, we must understand what constitutes positive psychological functioning. It’s about giving your employees the support and tools they need to be successful at work. Sometimes this is referred to as psychological health and safety. Characteristics of a psychologically healthy organization include employee involvement, work-life balance, employee development and employee recognition.  

To understand how recognition impacts the whole construct of positive psychological functioning, Roy investigated research conducted at the Universidad Compulense de Madrid. The study found that there is a strong correlation between the two, and that psychological functioning is weakened when employee recognition is absent. To come to these conclusions, the researchers used self-reported measures that explored several dimensions of well-being, including autonomy, resilience, self-esteem, purpose in life, enjoyment, optimism, curiosity, creativity, humor, environmental mastery and vitality.

While they did find a correlation between recognition (or the lack thereof) and psychological functioning, they also acknowledged that this relationship is only indirectly affected and that it’s mediated by the employee’s existing level of psychological functioning.

One of the more interesting findings in the study was that recognition originating from coworkers had twice the impact on positive psychological functioning as that from supervisors. This conclusion also supports our Trendicators research. We found that 73% of employees say that performance feedback from other members of their team is as important as feedback from their manager. However, neither the recognition from supervisors nor coworkers explained an employee’s level of overall well-being in the study done in Madrid. The findings of this study should encourage organizations to promote social recognition programs and other programs that employees can utilize to acknowledge their peers. Organizations can teach employees how to express recognition to validate and value their peers.

To assess your workplace’s psychological health, scrutinize your existing recognition programs and see how well they are known, understood, accessible and easy-to-use. Ask yourselves if specific informal recognition practices should be initiated and remember that not every recognition interaction has to be high-tech or formal. Remember that while peer-to-peer recognition stands out as significant based on this study, there is still a strong need for supervisory and management recognition of employees.

These research findings are interesting (and now timely), considering the increasing demand to examine psychological health and safety in the workplace.

You can read the entire article by Roy Saunderson by clicking here: Employee Recognition Promotes Positive Psychological Functioning

Work Cited:


Topics: Recognition

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