Why is Praise Important in Business & the Workplace?

When to Praise

Knowing when and how to praise

Many psychologists would agree that positive reinforcement is significantly more effective than punishment. Many executives would agree employee recognition leads to an increased bottom line. Many doctors would agree that the release of dopamine in the brain whenever we hear something we enjoy is a powerful thing. And then there are the studies.

Ragan.com shares a collection of studies that sets the record straight, direct from the mouths of employees themselves. And the results are as important as they are unsurprising. A whopping 78% of U.S. workers say being recognized motivates them in their job, while 69% say they’d work harder if they were better recognized. And in the interest of employee retention, you might want to note that 49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.

So it’s no surprise that employees want to hear that they’re doing a good job from time to time. You probably do, too. It’s a key factor in motivation and engagement and it could be one of the biggest factors in keeping your employees off LinkedIn job searches.

When to Praise

So you know praise is important and that your employees are likely to give a better performance with it by their side, but how often do your employees want to be praised? Ragan.com says employees want some kind of recognition every 7 days. Unfortunately, studies show only 16% of leaders meet that expectation, while 51% only offer praise once a quarter, or even more infrequently.

You might find every 7 days is a bit frequent but understand praise doesn’t have to be a big gesture; it could just be a genuine pat on the back. Or, it could be more…

Types of Praise

Frequent praise can be a quick “good job” or another version of verbal high-fiving. But there are other options to consider. Ragan.com breaks down what kind of recognition employees value most at work:

  • 24% prefer rewards like money or gift cards
  • 28% prefer regular ol’ praise
  • 30% prefer growth opportunities

Praise Mistakes

So what might you be doing wrong? Here are some common mistakes managers make in an attempt to bridge the recognition gap.

  • Offering token gestures – recognition should fit the degree of achievement. Offering a stapler for someone’s 10-year anniversary might not match up. Likewise, don’t go overboard with your offerings.
  • Being wrong – don’t mix up someone’s name or achievement. Congratulating someone on a job well done that they didn’t do, or passing over a key contributor, might cause more harm than good.
  • Being vague – when you say “good job,” tie an action to it. What did they do a good job on? Be specific.

So how do you measure up against these statistics? Are you offering as much recognition as desired by your team, or do you have some room for growth? If it’s the latter, put in some honest effort and see if things don’t turn around.


Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

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