Recognition 101 : Money takes a backseat to meaning

Jill Christensen
min read
Recognition 101 : Money takes a backseat to meaning
Recognition 101

In the June issue of Southwest Airlines’ inflight magazine, it was reported that executive recruitment firm Korn Ferry polled office workers about career advancement and found some surprising results. Apparently, 63% of people would rather receive a promotion (new title) than a pay raise.

Why? “People want to feel that they’re contributing to something greater than themselves,” says Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry senior partner. “They want to see that their work has an impact, and the promotion is a recognition for their contributions.”

Employers are lucky that employees feel this way, as the New York Times reported in May that although the labor market is the strongest it has been in a decade, wages are rising barely faster than inflation. If employees cared more about money than adding value, employers could have a worker mutiny on their hands. However, it looks like that is not going to happen any time soon as what people are yearning for the most is recognition for a job well done.

This does not come as a surprise to me. In my keynote speech, I say one of the most important takeaways as it relates to employee engagement is that it is not difficult. In order to re-engage workers, you simply have to meet their most basic human needs. Feeling acknowledged and appreciated is one of these needs.

BE AWESOME! Create a recognition wall in your office. Declare an Appreciation Week. Give a colleague a standing ovation for a job well done. Send someone a handwritten thank you note. Leave a small gift on someone’s chair. When employees are thanked for their contributions, their engagement level rises and they give you more discretionary effort – the magic dust to superior business results. Need help developing your engagement and recognition strategy? Start the conversation with me here.

About the author

Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She was recently named a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, 'If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement', and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or

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