in Inspiration

Recognition and Schrödinger’s Cat—A Purrfect Match

Ever heard of Schrödinger’s cat? Contrary to what you might think, Schrödinger’s cat isn’t the feline friend of an obscure Austrian Physicist, but rather the name of an important thought experiment in quantum mechanics that relates to employee recognition!

Before we get to employee recognition, let’s paws for a little nerd-talk. The experiment of Schrödinger’s cat is essentially this: a cat is placed in a sealed container. According to physics and a state known as quantum superposition, the cat may actually be both alive and dead at the same time until the cat is observed by opening the box. Think of it this way—in theory the cat is both alive and dead but in parallel universes. Sort of like an interdimensional cat. (Which if you’re a cat owner you know might actually be true anyway).


Note: No cats have ever been harmed in the name of Schrödinger. Rest easy, animal lovers! 

Meow that we’ve blown your mind with #science, consider the following: employees often feel a lot like Schrödinger’s cat—they come to work, do their best, but aren’t being recognized for it (or in Schrödinger’s terminology, observed). This may lead to employees feeling as if their work doesn’t really matter, and that they themselves don’t matter. They might even feel like they’ve been put in a box. Are they truly valued? Are they being seen? That’s a scary place to be—such feelings inevitably lead to disengagement. 

According to Forbes disengagement in the workplace is costing U.S. companies up to $550 BILLION a year! That’s a LOT of money for something that might be rectified with a simple thank you or recognition of hard work. Often employees just need to know they are noticed and cared about, and there are multiple ways you can do that as a manager:

  • Practice and encourage gratitude. 
    • Disengagement can be remedied when you practice gratitude for the people that make your work possible. A simple thank you can go a long way in helping employees feel better about their work and their job as a whole. You might even consider keeping an employee gratitude journal where you write down your appreciation of employees. Even if they never see the journal, such a practice will help you appreciate and recognize your employees regularly. 
  • Encourage healthy habits.
    • There’s a reason so many companies have wellness programs. Healthy employees make for better, more engaged employees. Encourage your people to get outside, form a fitness club, or participate in any activity that gets them moving or living better. After all, endorphins equal positivity, and positivity can lead to engagement. (Also, little side note here: you can create and manage wellness programs with awards in Awardco. Just sayin’.)
  • Celebrate success.
    • Celebrating your own or other’s successes is a fantastic way to provide positivity and increase engagement in the workplace—even if it’s a small success or one outside of work! You don’t have to spend crazy money or have big parties. Often small recognitions or a timely, small celebration can be all your employees need.
  • Provide balance.
    • A great life-work balance is key to staying positive at work. If employees don’t lead balanced lives, both their work AND their life suffer. Encourage your employees (and yourself!) to balance their work with good things in their life, and you’ll see engagement rise all across the board.  

There are many more ways to increase engagement in the workplace—so many that if we tried to list them all we’d purrobably make you feel like disengaging from this post! However, we know that as you do your best to recognize your employees they will feel more engaged, and more engaged employees create better outcomes. Who knows? Perhaps in working to engage your workforce more fully you might help your employees feel like coming out of their own box!