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How to Gain Recognition in the Workplace

30th November 2023

When you were a child, you may have been told "nobody likes a show-off", but self-aggrandisement and self-promotion in the work environment are two different things. 

Have you wondered how to get reward and recognition in the workplace? Here are twelve things you can try:

  1. Go the extra mile
  2. Upskill and improve your qualifications
  3. Become the expert
  4. Take up new projects
  5. Communicate your successes
  6. Build relationships with networking
  7. Put yourself forward for awards
  8. Put yourself forward for public speaking
  9. Take on some of your manager's workload
  10. Engage in volunteer work
  11. Update your career assets
  12. Recognise others

Here we explain why receiving recognition at work is essential not only for your self-esteem but also career advancement, and how these 12 simple solutions can help you gain recognition in the workplace. 

What is recognition at work?

Receiving recognition at work is a way of getting formal recognition when you’ve done good work. For an employer or manager, it's a way of providing public recognition to those team members who do a great job. Employee recognition ideas can include peer-to-peer or top-down schemes. It can take place at formal work reviews, annual appraisals, or company events. It can also happen in a more ad-hoc manner through acknowledging good work via an email, one-to-one or team meeting.

Why is receiving recognition at work important?

There are lots of reasons why gaining recognition at work should be important to you, here are a few that might resonate:

  • Getting recognised at work boosts your self-esteem, making you more assured of your own skills and competence.
  • If you're new to the job, it helps you understand you're doing things well and that helps you settle in a new work environment.
  • It helps career development both at your current workplace and if you choose to move on.
  • If you're taking extra responsibilities or doing a higher level of work, then getting recognised for that is important both in terms of respect and getting your salary reviewed.

It is also important for employers and managers. A 2022 report from Workhuman and Gallup showed that there are very real benefits of employee recognition to an organisation, with employee engagement "four times as likely" and staff are "five times more connected" to the company culture. Therefore, putting in place a scheme to reward employees for their hard work will show employees how much they are valued and provide positive reinforcement.

How to gain recognition in the workplace

If you find self-promotion a bit cringe-worthy, then try these 12 ideas to gain recognition in the workplace.

1. Go the extra mile

To get both respect and recognition at work go the extra mile. That means working beyond the job description every now and then. It might mean putting in a few extra hours to get a project done by deadline. It could be providing extra information or coming up with alternative ideas that prove invaluable.

2. Upskill or get those all-important qualifications

Jobs rarely stay still, and you will likely find that you need further training or a new qualification to keep up with industry standards or progress your career. Investing in your skills and knowledge will make you more confident and signal to your manager and peers that you've raised your level of expertise and that will gain you recognition at work. What type of upskilling you require depends on your job or where you want to advance your career towards. For example, if you want to progress to a management position, then you may wish to study a management course and with degrees that are delivered through distance learning this is possible even for those with other life commitments such as family and a full-time job.

3. Become the expert

Becoming an expert could be getting higher degree level qualifications as mentioned above, but there are other ways. For example, you could be the expert on how to use a particular software product that your department uses. You could mentor new staff members or apprentices if your company has a mentoring/apprenticeship programme. You could offer to delve in deep into a particular subject or take on a specialist project that will make you the expert of that niche.

4. Take on new projects

Don’t be afraid to volunteer for projects that are outside of your immediate remit or would usually be undertaken by someone with more responsibility than you. It gives you a chance to learn something new, develop your skills and tells your manager that you want to gain recognition for demonstrating a different set of skills. It is better to only volunteer for projects that you are confident you can undertake competently, otherwise however well your intentions the sentiment could backfire. If you are interested in developing your project management skills our MSc in Project Management distance learning degree will take your skills to the next level.

5. Communicate your successes

Your manager will have 101 things on their plate and whilst they will recognise and give praise where due, they may miss all your great work unless reminded. Therefore, make sure they are aware of every great job you do and how you have contributed to the team and the company bottom line. That doesn’t mean emailing them or stopping them in the corridor every other day. It can be done in a more structured way such as at formal performance reviews and annual appraisals. These types of meetings are also an effective way to open a two-way conversation not only on performance but also reviewing job descriptions, salary compensation, career development and any training you might need to advance. 

During these meetings make sure you back up your successes with evidence. Instead of saying “By the way, did you notice how amazingly I did on my last project”, try “I felt my last project went well. I received many positive comments from the team, and it has brought about a solution to the problem previously discussed. I enjoyed it and would be happy to take on more projects like that in the future.”

6. Networking to build relationships

Gaining recognition at work doesn’t just mean getting your boss to notice you. It also means building good relationships with other team members, colleagues in other departments and external stakeholders. Gain the respect of colleagues and external stakeholders by being helpful or resourceful whenever the opportunity arises. When you’ve aided and made other peoples’ lives easier, they are more likely to remember you and that increases the chances of them recommending you for future work opportunities.

7. Put yourself forward for awards

If you feel confident that your work is of a high standard, why not put yourself forward for awards that are relevant to your industry and line of work? You could win and even if you don’t you draw positive attention to your work and signal to others that you are serious about achieving and getting recognised for your work.

8. Put yourself forward for public speaking

This is a daunting prospect but putting yourself forward for speaking in public at conference events or running a workshop will not only get you plenty of recognition in the workplace but also in your industry. It’s a real positive to add to your CV and it provides lots of networking prospects. You don’t have to start at an overwhelming 200-person Ted-talk, try something smaller and more intimate such as a classroom talk at a school, college, or university. Another idea is to offer to present at a department meeting.

9. Take some of your manager’s workload off them

Done the right way, with an earnest desire to learn, develop, and help, there’s no reason why your manager shouldn’t take up an offer to alleviate some of their tasks as positive. It helps them with their workload and it signals to them that you are keen to learn new skills and gain different experience. A manager with a good leadership mindset and a progressive company culture will value employees who want to develop, rather than see them as a threat. If you do a good job, your manager will be grateful and may pass that responsibility to you. Providing this doesn’t affect your work-life-balance negatively, this will be positive in terms of gaining recognition at work.

10. Volunteer

Volunteer for working groups or company social committees. In the same way as networking, it will help build relationships with colleagues, particularly those in other departments that you wouldn’t usually have regular contact with.

11. Update your career assets

With every significant successful project, new qualification or new skill acquired, update your CV and LinkedIn profile. More than ever, recruitment agencies and prospective employers are looking at LinkedIn to spot their next talent.

12. Recognise others

Make sure you take the time and effort to recognise others in your workplace. This isn’t a repayment of recognition but a genuine acknowledgment when a colleague goes out of their way to help you, or their work contributes to the success of yours. 

Inspirational speaker and author, Simon Sinek said: “A boss wants to pay for results, an employee wants recognition for effort. If a boss recognises effort, they will get even better results” which seems to perfectly summarise the win-win and importance of recognition in the workplace.