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How Employee Recognition Influences Attitudes & Behavior in the Workplace

Rachel Reed
12/15/17 9:43 AM

The word attitude is often associated with a person’s outward presentation of feelings, yet attitude is the collective result of the way someone views the world through a set of preconceived notions or constructs, according to George Kelly’s theory of personal constructs. For example, in children, attitudes are shaped by observed behavior while in adults, behavior follows from held attitudes.

Research on attitudes and behavior shows that people subconsciously and immediately label a situation as “good” or “bad” in less than a second, forming their attitudes. For example, prospective employees who find the application, interview, or onboarding processes arduous or superfluous immediately associate the organization with such.

Employers who focus on the needs of employees and prospective talent have the opportunity to ensure that perception and attitudes toward the organization are positive by designing a culture of recognition equipped for growth and gratitude.

Research on recognition and gratitude in the workplace reveals a link to higher job satisfaction, less stress, higher productivity, and even fewer sick days. Gratitude activates regions in the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which creates neural pathways to the “happy” center of the brain.  The more regularly and often the brain is exposed to gratitude, the more regular and automatic these neural pathways become. Simply weaving gratitude into the fabric of workplace culture will create a domino effect–as gratitude boosts employees’ self-esteem and optimism, they are more likely to spread gratitude of their own. Expressing gratitude can improve a person’s wellness, sleep, metabolism and reduce stress, prompting a continuous cycle of positive feedback.

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Behaviors typically reflect preconceived notions or beliefs and attitudes toward something. Positive attitudes manifest well-adjusted behavior in employees. That doesn’t mean saying please and thank you, it means increasing expressions of gratitude, productivity, and injecting purpose into their work. Changing the culture of a workplace to incorporate inclusiveness, transparency, and recognition will change the individual construct, or perceived notions, which will then change behavior.

In the workplace, positive attitudes toward the organization, coworkers, and management correlate with positive behavior: productive, successful work, engaged employees, a culture of recognition. Employees who feel connected to their work and organization and are consistently recognized and elevated are more likely to express gratitude, perform their best work, and drive productivity.

Recognition boosts employee engagement. Employee engagement drives productivity, increases revenue, reduces absenteeism, and lowers turnover. While building an established employee recognition program bolstered by company values can be the most effective way to boost employee engagement, simply incorporating recognition can make a significant difference. Simply encouraging employees, executives, and managers alike to express gratitude for jobs well done on a personal and frequent basis can lead to a culture shift.




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