Tired of Working Without Recognition? What Can YOU Do?

Tired of Working Without Recognition? What Can YOU Do?
  • 82% of employed adults consider recognition an important part of their happiness at work. (Source: CNBC SurveyMonkey)
  • 53% of employees say they would stay longer in a company if they felt appreciated. (Source: Glassdoor)
  • 44% of employees switch jobs because of not getting adequate recognition for their efforts. (Source: Achievers)
  • A well-designed recognition program can help drive an 11.1% increase in average employee performance. (Source: Gartner)

Employees want it, managers know it’s important, and it usually doesn’t cost a dime. 

Yet, a recent Gallup poll showed that lack of appreciation in the workplace continues to affect employees’ satisfaction. (Work and Workplace, Gallup News Historical Trends 2021)

Recognition is one of the best positive types of feedback you can receive for your performance. When you receive it, you realize you are on the right track, and you continue to give your best. You tend to be happier and have stronger relationships with colleagues and management. It creates a virtuous cycle.

What can you do if your workplace isn't big on recognition? You can start by taking the matter into your own hands and call attention to your accomplishments in a constructive way.

Yes, this may mean bragging a bit. If you think of “brag” as a 4-letter word, well, yes it is, but not in a bad way. Reframe it and think of bragging as self-promotion. Simply become your own public relations company.

Here are a dozen specific steps you can take to get the recognition at work that you deserve. 

  1. Track your achievements. Document your wins on a regular basis so you’re ready to show how your work makes a difference. Come up with short, compelling stories to make your experiences interesting to share with others. Don’t forget the small stuff. Small accomplishments can have a big impact. Don’t save everything for your annual performance review. Make this ongoing.
  1. Take your rightful credit. If you finish a difficult task, take on a special project, or go above and beyond to ensure a key assignment is completed on time (or early!) or beyond expectations, be sure to take credit when it’s given. Your natural inclination may be to deflect the attention and point out the contributions of others — which is OK, but you’ll do yourself a disservice by not taking what is yours.
  1. Keep your boss in the loop. Work at having a strong and positive relationship with your manager. Schedule time to talk. Clarify your company’s goals, and your manager’s priorities and make them your own. You may have to do a little personal PR by talking about the contributions you’ve made. No matter how much you and your boss communicate, chances are high that she does not know the ins and outs of every project or task you work on, or the value you routinely bring to it. Make sure she knows the details of working with other departments or the late nights, especially for projects she did not assign to you directly. It can be as simple as cc’ing your boss to an email string or giving her a two-minute summary during your regular touch-base meeting.
  1. Ask for feedback. Find out what others think of your contributions. Constructive feedback helps you to learn and grow. Don’t refute; don’t be defensive. Listen, don’t react, be appreciative and reflect at a quiet time on how their input can help you improve.
  1. Accept compliments graciously. When you do receive recognition, be humble, gracious and graceful when accepting praise. A simple “thank you” or “I appreciate the recognition” is more appropriate than a long-winded or insincere response. Enjoy your moment in the sun without feeling self-conscious.

  2. Expand your role. Pay attention to how your position fits into the bigger picture. Think strategically and look for ways to take on more responsibility. Volunteer for high-profile projects or serve on a committee with coworkers you want to get to know better.

  3. Project confidence. You’re more likely to receive recognition if you believe in your own worth. Stand tall and minimize nervous gestures. Make eye contact and speak up at meetings.

  4. Be seen. If you have an idea, share it in a public forum so everyone is aware that the idea is yours. Though it might be intimidating, announcing your plans to a wider audience naturally helps prevent others from being tempted to "borrow your ideas".
  1. Bye-bye wallflower! To get rewards and recognition, people have to know who you are. Make the effort to get to know your colleagues. Saying hi to people you pass in the hallways, showing up for office celebrations, taking part in group events, speaking up in meetings. Take time out for small talk and listen closely to what others have to say. Communicate in person, phone or video whenever possible, not only by email and texts. These small things are all very effective ways of making a name for yourself.
  1. Be good at what you do. Become the expert or go-to person on the team when it comes to a particular task or issue. Increase your knowledge, stay current and network in your industry.
  1. Recognize others. Thanking others for their hard work and making sure they earn the rewards and recognition they deserve is simply a nice thing to do. And you’ll be amazed how it helps you build important relationships with your colleagues. If you acknowledge others’ contributions, they are likely to do the same for you.
  1.  Help others get recognized. Put your ego aside and show that you’re interested in the whole team. Recognize your coworkers for their specific skills or contributions instead of just saying that they did a great job. Be specific and generous.

Don’t leave it to others to recognize your accomplishments. Step up and speak up, with confidence.