May 23, 2024
May 17, 2024

How Recognition Enhances Work Relationships

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In today’s collaborative work environment, fostering strong workplace relationships with colleagues is essential. Having a best friend at work is tied to higher job success and employee engagement. According to Gallup, employees with a best friend at work do the following:

  • Innovate and collaborate
  • Get more done faster
  • Enjoy their time at work

While numerous factors contribute to a positive work relationship, one powerful yet often overlooked element is recognition. This acknowledgement can take various forms including verbal praise, written commendations, or public acknowledgement during team meetings. 

Regardless of form or method, highlighting the efforts, achievements, and contributions of coworkers can cultivate stronger bonds among coworkers. 

Acknowledgement is a Fundamental Human Need

At its core, recognition addresses a fundamental human need—the need to feel valued and appreciated for one's contributions. Recognition fulfils three out of five of the basic human needs outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Those needs are safety, belonging, and esteem. 

Recognition instills safety by providing a sense of security. Recognition creates belonging by building relationships and trust. Recognition means others know you did a good job, an important aspect of esteem.

When individuals receive acknowledgement for their efforts, it is validating. Such validation instills a sense of pride and purpose. This reinforces an individual's connection to their colleagues and team.

Instilling a Sense of Belonging

Belonging is a crucial aspect of employee engagement and satisfaction. When you belong to a community, you are more likely to invest in your role and develop strong bonds with others. 

Recognition plays a pivotal role in cultivating this sense of belonging by affirming an individual's place within a team and organisation. By publicly and privately acknowledging achievements or efforts, colleagues can signal to other employees that they are valued members of the team.

Strengthening Bonds Through Gratitude

Gratitude is a fundamental aspect of recognition. It strengthens interpersonal relationships in the workplace. When colleagues express gratitude for each other's contributions, it creates a culture of appreciation and respect. 

Expressions of gratitude can be simple. A heartfelt "thank you" or a note of appreciation means something. By acknowledging the efforts of others, individuals build rapport and trust, laying the foundation for collaborative endeavours and effective teamwork.

Building Trust and Collaboration

Recognition plays a pivotal role in building and nurturing trust among colleagues. lists showing appreciation as one of their seven recommendations on how to build trust.  When individuals feel recognised and valued by their peers and leaders, it fosters a sense of psychological safety within teams. 

Employees are more likely to communicate openly, share ideas, and collaborate effectively when they trust in each other's capabilities and intentions. Recognition fosters a culture of reciprocity, where colleagues support and uplift each other, creating a positive feedback loop of trust and collaboration.

Fostering a Culture of Celebration

A culture of recognition promotes celebration, creating opportunities to acknowledge milestones, achievements, and successes. Celebratory moments serve as morale boosters, instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment among team members. Whether it's commemorating the successful completion of a project, honouring a life event, or highlighting years of service, celebrations reinforce a culture of positivity and camaraderie. 

Moreover, they provide occasions for team members to come together, bond, and build lasting memories, strengthening their connections beyond professional realms.

Employee Recognition Programmes That Strengthen Relationships

Formalizing a recognition programme can make it even easier for employees to participate as you can clearly outline the different ways they can celebrate a colleague. Listed below are the top recognition programmes that strengthen relationships amongst peers:

  • Peer-to-peer recognition programmes
    • Tie this recognition programme to company values to help build culture.
  • Service milestone programmes
    • Make it even better by adding a virtual MemoryBook that colleagues can sign and invite others to sign.
  • Send ecards for life events
    • Be inclusive of all life events from the birth of a grandchild to adopting a pet.


Employee recognition is a cornerstone of fostering positive work relationships and cultivating a thriving organisational culture. Recognition promotes trust, gratitude, and celebration, fostering a sense of belonging among employees. 

As leaders and colleagues, it is imperative to prioritise recognition as a fundamental practise in nurturing strong and resilient work relationships. By doing so, organisations can harness the transformative power of acknowledgment to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and appreciated.

Angela Carmack
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Angela enjoys identifying customer needs and developing strategic plans to address them, and she's passionate about improving customer experiences and streamlining processes. In her free time, she loves spending time with her two daughters, husband, and dog, preferably enjoying the Utah outdoors.