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The Right—and Wrong—Ways to Give Employees Kudos
Recognizing employees who do well improves workers’ performance overall—not because the recognized employees work harder, but because those who weren’t recognized do. That was one of the conclusions of an academic study described in a 2013 working paper from European research center CESifo. Robert Dur, professor of Economics of Incentives and Performance at Erasmus School of Economics, is one of the authors of the working paper.
The researchers assigned groups of students to three hours of data entry. During the shift, some of the highest performers received a thank-you card for their hard work from their manager. That sparked a jump in the groups’ productivity for the rest of the shift, especially among the workers who had performed the worst before the cards arrived. ‘Employees who were not rewarded by a special mention learned that their productivity is low as compared to their colleagues, causing feelings of shame or guilt,” says Dur.