Navigating the Difference Between Recognition vs. Rewards and Why Recognition Wins Every Time!

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

image of a person sitting at a table in front of a red curtain holding a score card in front of their face that says 4You see your recognition scores are low, and you think, “How is this possible? We do awards, gift certificates, long service events and more!” Awesome, and….these are rewards. You cannot hug a plaque at night (Ouch! Sharp! Pointy edges!) A compliment – given or received – is what your brain will mull over when you lay your head on the pillow at night.

And bonus: recognition is literally the easiest engagement driver that you can move the needle on quickly. And joyfully! Isn’t it great to know that you have so much control over one?! (In comparison to other drivers you might be working on such as ‘trust in the organization’ or ‘supplies and equipment’ or ‘understanding the strategic goals’?)

Let’s get back to basics… A thank you. A note. An on-site visit vocalizing acknowledgments of what is working. A team meeting that starts with an appreciation reflection.

Let’s build a foundation of recognition.

Recognition is what everyone can compete on in our workforce shortages. Recognition is what you can always amp up, even with impending inflation and a recession that can create job angst. Recognition is what helps insulate us against loneliness and anxiety. Recognition is the quick hit of an actionable step when we feel we are “not doing enough” and “can never get caught up”.

When in doubt, give a shout-out.

image of a bar chart that is increasing the score with an arrow pointing upwardCan we help? Let’s turn these engagement survey results around and make people – leaders, staff, clients, and suppliers – more satisfied starting with recognition.

Let’s do a powerful deep dive that gives you the formula for increased satisfaction and engagement.

One hour is all it takes to start the recognition ripple effect. Give me one hour of your precious time and attention, and I will give you a room full of recognition rockstars.

Let’s do this.

For more references for increasing your employee engagement scores, check out these previous blog posts:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI generated.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve