The only thing worse than no recognition

…. is bad recognition.

A good friend of mine works for a very large high street retail company. Last week they gave her an ‘above and beyond’ type award for excellent customer service.

Picture this.

A certificate. Of sorts. A photocopied piece of paper that looked like it had been designed using clipart from Word. It was slightly out of line, as if it had been copied and then copied again, and the colours were all washed out. The date of the ‘award’ was in one font. My friends name in another.

Well, I say name. Because they got it wrong. Both of them. They used a shortened form of her given name that she doesn’t use. And an entirely different surname. It started with the same letter, but that was about it. The person who gave her this so called token of recognition acknowledged that it has the incorrect name. But they gave it to her anyway, rather than take the time to get another printed. As a final insult, the certificate was put in a cheap, plastic A4 frame. Noting that the certificate wasn’t actually A4, but slightly smaller.

My friend showed it to me, and simply said: ‘what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with that?’


What should have been an engaging experience turned instead into a demotivator. A joke. She does not feel appreciated, she feels annoyed.

When it comes to acknowledging and recognising your employees, you don’t have to spend loads of money. You don’t necessarily need fancy gifts or expensive tokens. You don’t even need a formal scheme. Sometimes, a simple a thank you is all that is required.

But if you are going to do employee recognition, then please do it properly. Or quite simply, don’t bother doing it at all.