The Effects of Anticipation and Recognition Source in Employee Recognition Programs
41 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2016 Last revised: 24 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2016
Firms are increasing their use of non-monetary recognition, the recognition of high performing employees via pure acknowledgment (e.g., employee of the month). Despite its prevalent use, the behavioral impact of non-monetary recognition has received minimal research attention. We investigate the impact of two dimensions of non-monetary recognition programs on employees’ effort and alignment with the firm and its managers. Specifically, we examine the effects of (1) the extent to which employees anticipate (i.e., are aware of) the potential for recognition and (2) the source of the recognition. We predict and find that employees’ propensity to exert reciprocal effort following unanticipated recognition is greater when the employee is recognized by their immediate manager than when they are recognized by the (more general) firm. Notably, our theory highlights a possible unintended consequence of recognition – the potential for employees to reciprocate to their managers, even when reciprocated effort is to the detriment of the firm.
Keywords: recognition; non-monetary recognition; reciprocity; anticipated rewards; employee acknowledgment
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