fbpx Recognition vs. Appreciation: What Makes a Greater Impact?
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on April 21, 2022

In preparing for a recent meeting where I wanted to highlight staff appreciation, I researched some TED talks and landed on one from Mike Robbins entitled The Power of Appreciation. Without giving away the whole premise of the TED talk, as it is definitely worth your 18 minutes of time, Robbins makes a strong point in helping you think about the difference between appreciation and recognition.

Recognition vs. Appreciation

While the words “employee recognition” and “employee appreciation” are often used interchangeably, they are very different. Employee recognition is often more work-related and focused on achievement while appreciation focuses more on the employee and acknowledges their inherent value as a person. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for both; however, it is important to understand their differences and apply them correctly for optimal outcomes. When an employee is recognized for doing a great job on a project, they can feel valued and know that you are seeing their great work and want to highlight this achievement for others.  

Appreciation, however, focuses more on valuing the person for who they are, not what they did or achieved. This shows the employee that you listen to them, are paying attention to who they are and not just what they offer in their role. This can deeply impact their self-worth and motivate them to continue in their greatness.

Implementing Employee Appreciation

In one office I work in, they have implemented a program where workers can write “kudos cards” to other employees. A supervisor reads the cards out loud in our staff meeting, where we see everyone’s faces beam with pride when recognized for doing great work in their job. It is interesting that when employees are appreciated for their kindness, taking time to cheer another worker up, being positive in the face of adversity, and other items that highlight who they are as a person, this where is you really see people feeling valued. It often takes them by surprise, and you can see on their faces the impact of these statements.

At the conclusion of the meeting where we watched Mike Robbins’ TED talk, I passed around thank you cards for each employee to fill out and give to someone they want to appreciate for being who they are. I was unsure how workers would respond. I was overcome with emotion when I realized that at the end of the meeting, the full box of thank you cards was nearly empty when it made its way back to me. Employees recognized how many people they have in their lives that need to hear appreciation and took not one card to fulfill the assignment, but several employees took multiple cards to fill their cup and appreciate valuable people in their lives.

I challenge you to watch this TED talk, to write the thank you note, to hold true to remembering to appreciate people for who they are, and not just what they have accomplished. This is a true way to convey value in each other and give us the energy to do the hard work. We all matter, and we all have value beyond measure.

This blog article was contributed by Genelle Olson, LMSW, Regional Director of Foster Care - West Region, Nexus-PATH.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.