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This is your reminder to add recognition to your benefits policy

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read

Recognising the efforts your employees put in can help create a happier workplace. When hard work is acknowledged and rewarded, engagement, productivity and morale can increase.

If the benefits are so strong, why are employers not realising the potential? Research from 2022 revealed that just 36 per cent of employees reported their organisation having some sort of recognition system in place. Similarly, just 19 per cent of leaders said recognition was a priority in their business.

According to Ross McDonald, country manager at Perkbox Australia, not including a recognition policy can negatively affect business performance.

“[Recognition is] absolutely vital. Over the last couple of years, we have run several surveys … and by and large, all of them say that to feel engaged with their employer, to feel engaged with the organisation and do their best work, they … need clear performance expectations of what they’re doing. The second thing they need is recognition when they are doing the right thing,” he said.

Recognition and performance expectations go hand in hand, said Mr McDonald. Without clear goals, employees aren’t as effectively able to go above and beyond and therefore, recognition can be harder to determine.

“You can often find a mismatch where people don’t have clear performance expectations; they don’t really know what they’re meant to be doing. And therefore, they don’t really know why they got recognised,” Mr McDonald explained.

“I feel there’s a missed opportunity there for those organisations. If they’d just been a little bit clearer upfront and a little bit more intentional with why they were recognising, then that employee would feel engaged and feel like they were really achieving something.”

In the volatile talent market we’re in the midst of, offering these sorts of benefits can help keep staff happy, engaged, and motivated and can ultimately help employers to stay afloat.

Mr McDonald continued: “You’ve got to remember that people choose to work for someone. There’s something about the organisation you work for, I want to be part of that. I want to go and be with those people. And if you take that point of view, it seems reasonable to recognise you when you’re doing the right thing to continue to reinforce that you’ve made a good choice to be your employer, to be with these people and to achieve these things.”

Mr McDonald noted that policies like recognition could help to promote a healthy culture that values good work.

“Culture is an active thing. It’s not about posters on the wall or about giving everybody a new T-shirt. It’s about what’s the stuff you do every day. How do people interact with each other? And what gets noticed and what gets recognised and what gets rewarded?”

“Those are the things that, over time, build culture. One of the experiences we had during that lockdown period over the last couple of years is often we were using the culture that we had built up together and drawing down on it like a deposit at the bank. And we had to be quite thoughtful and quite deliberate on topping it up,” Mr McDonald said.

“We can’t just keep drawing down on it forever. And that’s when HR leaders started [to be] much more thoughtful about this benefit space, and it moved away from those location benefits because they weren’t relevant. And they’re saying, what can we do to give people something that will be meaningful to them, keep them engaged, keep them connected?”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Ross McDonald, click below:



Benefits include any additional incentives that encourage working a little bit more to obtain outcomes, foster a feeling of teamwork, or increase satisfaction at work. Small incentives may have a big impact on motivation. The advantages build on financial rewards to promote your business as a desirable employer.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.