The Business Case for Employee Recognition: What HR Needs to Know in 2024

Imagine an employee working tirelessly on a project, exceeding expectations. At the project’s end, they eagerly await feedback, hoping for recognition of their hard work. Instead, their efforts go unnoticed, leaving them feeling unappreciated and demotivated.

This scenario is common in many workplaces, despite evidence that recognizing employee achievements can boost productivity. Yet, many companies still neglect employee recognition programs.

A Forbes study echoes this sentiment, revealing that recognition programs rank low on the list of priorities for employers across various industries. Gallup and Workhuman’s research from 2022, also provides a glimpse into the corporate mindset, with a staggering 81% of leaders not considering recognition as a major strategic priority.

Why, then, with an avalanche of supportive data, does employee recognition remain on the back burner for many organizations?

The oversight can generally be attributed to a few persistent challenges:

  • Misplaced Priorities: In the race to hit quantifiable business objectives, the qualitative elements that cultivate workplace culture, such as recognition, are often sidelined.
  • Lack of Awareness: There’s a significant gap in understanding the full impact of recognition, with many employers still not fully aware of the evidence that supports its effectiveness.
  • Perceived Barriers: A misconception persists among leaders that recognition programs are a high-cost, low-return investment, too cumbersome to integrate into existing operations.

HR professionals must refute these misconceptions by constructing a strong business case that champions recognition as a pivotal business strategy. The 2024 Report provides HR leaders with data and insights that can help in advocating for recognition programs.

The Business Case for Employee Recognition

There’s a strong business case for investing in employee recognition – data that proves employee recognition is more than just a perk. Below are some key findings from the report on The Power of Rewards and Recognition in 2024:

  • Retention & Loyalty: An impressive 85% of employees are likely to stay longer at a company that values their work, emphasizing recognition as a retention powerhouse.
  • Productivity: Recognition boosts productivity for 87% of employees, directly enhancing organizational performance.
  • Long-Term Cost Savings: Highlighting recognition’s role in retention can result in substantial cost savings by reducing turnover.
  • Improved Job Satisfaction: 62% believe that recognition can significantly boost their job satisfaction, leading to a more engaged and happy workforce.
  • Attracting Talent: A culture of recognition serves as a magnet for top talent, offering a competitive edge in the job market.
  • Positive Culture: Recognition programs foster a sense of community and accomplishment. 90% of employees said they feel more valued at work when their efforts are recognized, leading to a more positive work environment.

Navigating Challenges as HR Professionals

Financial Foresight and Resource Allocation:

  • Budgetary Limitations: A considerable 54.2% of HR professionals identify budget constraints as a hurdle. HR leaders can counteract this by presenting a case for the ROI of recognition programs. This includes outlining the long-term financial benefits such as lower turnover rates.
  • Cost-Effective Tools: Highlighting the advantages of affordable recognition solutions like EngageWith, HR can demonstrate their impact without exorbitant costs. This approach effectively balances budget concerns with the need for meaningful recognition.

Getting Leadership Buy-In:

  • Securing Leadership Support: With 52.2% of HR professionals still facing resistance from leadership, it’s crucial to bridge the gap between perception and reality. Demonstrating how recognition aligns with key organizational metrics can pivot leadership views towards more supportive stances. Sharing success stories where recognition has led to measurable business success can also reinforce this shift.

  • Strategic Alignment: Advocate for recognition as a strategy that supports broader business objectives. By connecting recognition with core company goals like increasing productivity and reducing turnover, HR can solidify leadership support.

Navigating Uncertainty

  • For the 39.7% uncertain about where to begin, HR should offer clear, structured plans with set objectives, proposing a phased approach that allows for incremental implementation and scalability.

Refining Existing Programs:

  • To address the dissatisfaction that 27.3% feel towards current solutions, HR must engage in active dialogue to identify gaps. Tailoring recognition efforts should be better aligned with employee preferences and company goals.

  • Suggest starting with a pilot recognition program . This limited scope allows the organization to test the effectiveness of recognition with minimal risk. The results from the pilot program can provide concrete data to support a wider rollout. [Tools like EngageWith offers a 30 day free trial period before investing in the full recognition program.]

By proactively addressing these challenges, HR can not only build a strronger case for recognition but also foster a cultural shift that places value on daily acknowledgment and appreciation.


The 2024 Report equips HR professionals with the data needed to advocate for strategic recognition programs that yield significant business and employee benefits. By articulating the value of these programs through solid evidence and addressing common challenges head-on, HR can champion a recognition-rich culture that propels the organization forward.

Mariam Mushtaq

I'm a Content Writer at Springworks. Drawing from my early career experience in HR, I bring a unique, insider's perspective. Driven by a passion for the People and HR function, I research and write about topics such as employee engagement and the future of work.

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