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Why Now is the Best Time to Implement an Employee Recognition Program

Rachel Reed
8/19/21 9:49 AM

Employee needs have dramatically shifted in the last year. In order to keep the best and attract new top talent, employers will benefit from taking a look at culture and listening to employees to improve their employer brand.  

Companies without systems to support the well-being of their employees have higher turnover, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). 

These costs mean many companies can not afford to wait to implement a recognition and rewards program. Here is why now is the best time to truly invest in engaging with your workforce:

Employee Recognition Can Curb High Turnover

Employees are rapidly leaving their pre-pandemic jobs, creating an increase in turnover. Leaders began predicting a mass exodus in early 2021, with one survey finding that one in four workers plans to quit their job after the pandemic. In fact, 4 million people quit their jobs in April, sparked by confidence they can find higher pay, more accommodating hours, and better working conditions elsewhere.


  • To prioritize mental health and leave employers who contribute to burnout, stress, depression, and anxiety
  • To be closer to family 
  • To re-skill and jump to new careers 
  • To find a better cultural fit 

Fifty-two percent of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their jobs. Turnover can cost employers 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary due to the costs of hiring a replacement.

Recognition Can Improve Culture 

Culture is increasingly a liability for those who don’t tend to it. Increased transparency between brands and customers and new levels of scrutiny by media and investors create pressure to tighten up. Research shows that just 28% of employees strongly agree that there is alignment between their company’s actions and its stated values. Productivity and engagement tend to plummet when employees hear and observe conflicting values–both of which impact the bottom line. 

Recognition Can Address Historic Burnout Levels 

Employee burnout will be at historic levels in 2021. More than 70% of employees reported being burnt out and feeling that their employers aren’t doing enough to address workplace burnout. Workplace burnout is commonly defined as extreme physical and emotional exhaustion that results in a lack of professional efficacy, increased cynicism, lack of engagement, and depleted energy. 

The impact of burnout goes deeper than an impact on employee mood

When Stanford researchers looked into how workplace stress affects health costs and mortality in the United States, they found that it led to spending of nearly $190 billion — roughly 8% of national healthcare outlays — and nearly 120,000 deaths each year. Worldwide, 615 million suffer from depression and anxiety, and, according to a recent WHO study, it costs the global workforce an estimated $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.

By showing urgency in addressing employee culture, you show that your employees matter. Work to build a resilient culture. Be intentional about goal setting, engagement, feedback, and recognition on an individual level.

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