Few things produce a greater return on investment than the low- or zero-cost act of recognizing your employees. Even if you don’t have the budget for a formal recognition program, the casual act of praise can significantly increase your employees’ happiness. In fact, research shows that receiving praise boosts activity in brain areas related to rewards, positive emotions, and decision-making.
We know you know employee recognition is a good idea, but a little inspiration never hurts, right? These employee recognition quotes from business leaders and all-around awesome people will get you pumped to pursue your recognition strategy with renewed enthusiasm.
Since you’re about to learn so many fantastic recognition quotes, you’ll probably want a solid distribution channel for sharing them with employees. An employee engagement platform like Assembly will help you spread your recognition words of wisdom with ease and style.
1. “Mary Kay knew that when you put people first and then surround them with processes and disciplines that recognize their efforts, performance will soar.” – David C. Novak, founder and CEO of oGoLead
Takeaway: Nurture people to nurture performance.
2. “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.” – Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
Takeaway: Treat employees as well as you treat your customers.
3. “The role of the CEO is to enable people to excel, help them discover their own wisdom, engage themselves entirely in their work, and accept responsibility for making change.” – Vineet Nayar, author of Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down
Takeaway: CEOs have the power to inspire employees.
4. “Motivating employees to work at their full potential is the main premise of successful management.”
– Eraldo Banovac, Croatian author and professor
Takeaway: Company success depends on maximally engaged employees.
5. “If you do not treat people with the respect they deserve, do not expect any kind of commitment to your productivity goals and target.” – Ian Fuhr, founder and CEO of the Sorbet group
Takeaway: Disrespected employees do not work hard.
6. “You’ve got to get your team to not only understand your company brand, but also to understand their personal brand.” – Amber Hurdle, author of The Bombshell Business Woman: How to Become a Bold, Brave, and Successful Female Entrepreneur
Takeaway: Good leaders set a vision against which employees execute.
7. “Realize that employees and the customers both have to be engaged, at the same time, to move your business forward for sustainable success.” – Robert G. Thompson, author of Hooked on Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies
Takeaway: Long-term success depends on both employees and customers.
8. “In behavioral economic terms, when we offer recognition we are acknowledging that the recipients have met a social ideal. They are behaving in a certain manner because they believe is the right thing to do. If we then recognize that behavior with praise or appreciation, we offer a confirmation that their behavior is desirable, and do so in a manner that recipients find meaningful.” – Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works
Takeaway: Culture consists of the things employees do when the boss isn’t looking.
9. “When a manager recognizes an employee’s behavior, personally and sincerely, both feel proud,
gratified, and happy. There’s a human connection that transcends the immediate culture to create a shared bond. The power of this bond is stronger than you might think; indeed, it’s the power that holds
together great organizational cultures.” – Erik Mosley and Derek Irvine, co-authors of The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work
Takeaway: Recognition holds a company together.
10. “If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work.” – Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingermans Deli
Takeaway: Recognition leads to excellent work.
11. “Take time to appreciate employees and they will reciprocate in a thousand ways.” – Dr. Bob Nelson, best-selling author and motivational speaker
Takeaway: Recognition yields high returns.
12. “People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Dr. Bob Nelson, best-selling author and motivational speaker
Takeaway: By recognizing, you retain.
13. “Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment.” – Bill Walsh, American football coach
Takeaway: Provide truly thoughtful compliments.
14. “Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman
Takeaway: Encourage employees to do their best work.
15. “If people did not compliment one another there would be little society.” – Luc de Clapiers, French writer
Takeaway: A little compliment goes a long way.
16. “What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise — although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!” – William James, American philosopher and psychologist
Takeaway: Peer-to-peer recognition fulfills a deep human need.
17. “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” – Henry David Thoreau, American writer
Takeaway: Listen carefully.
18. “It’s very inexpensive to give a compliment.” – Joyce Meyer, Christian author
Takeaway: Give compliments liberally.
19. “Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work.” – Tom Rath, employee engagement consultant
Takeaway: If you want to improve engagement, then offer recognition.
20. “Especially when you’re at a high level in an organization, criticism can be devastating to an employee. I prefer to praise employees for what they’re doing right, and it tends to lead to them doing more of the same. Not always, but it’s the way I choose to bet.” – Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
Takeaway: When you let employees know they’re doing thing right, they’ll keep doing things right.
21. “Praise does wonders for our sense of hearing.” – Arnold H. Glasow, businessman
Takeaway: Praise is the best way to get employees’ attention.
22. “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” – Sam Walton, founder of Walmart
Takeaway: Praise is priceless.
23. “Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that never miss the opportunity to give encouragement.” – George Adams, American football player
Takeaway: Recognition and encouragement make everyone feel good.
24. “I became involved in employee recognition by working. Everyone that has a job is involved in recognition, either through giving recognition to their employees or by receiving recognition from their employer. The sad fact is that most of us have been on the non-receiving end.” – Christi L. Gibson, executive director of Recognition Professionals International (RPI), formerly NAER
Takeaway: Employee recognition affects everyone who works.
25. “Being told something positive about yourself, whether from someone you’re close to, or a passing acquaintance, should really lift the spirits. Just the fact that someone has taken the time to let you know, should have you feeling noticed and appreciated.” – Paul Bailey, author of Your Little Steps to Self Confidence for Life
Takeaway: Your recognition makes people happy.
26. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton, English writer
Takeaway: Praise and recognition require enlightenment.
27. “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” – Alan Cohen, inspirational author
Takeaway: Recognition emanates goodness.
28. “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer
Takeaway: Through recognition, you can partake in someone else’s excellence.
29. “Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” – Northrup Christiane, obstetrician-gynecologist
Takeaway: Recognition opens doors.
30. “Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” – Hansa Proverb
Takeaway: Recognize even the small things.
31. “It is a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.” – Roberto Benigni, Italian actor
Takeaway: To be a great leader, you must recognize others.
32. “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” – Jacques Maritain, French philosopher
Takeaway: Recognition is a form of gratitude.
33. “Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward, inspirational author
Takeaway: There’s no reason not to express gratitude.
34. “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy.” – Marcel Proust, French writer
Takeaway: Don’t take people for granted.
35. “Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone.” – Gertrude Stein, American writer
Takeaway: Express your gratitude.
36. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, American writer
Takeaway: Feedback feeds greatness.
37. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard, American writer
Takeaway: Inspire people to follow you by practicing recognition.
38. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – Simon Sine, author of Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
Takeaway: Focus on inspiring others.
39. “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.” – Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Takeaway: Inspire your motivated workers.
40. “Life isn’t about getting and having; it’s about giving and being.” – Kevin Kruse, Princeton professor
Takeaway: Give more
41. “Even a brief interaction can change the way people think about themselves, their leaders, and the future. Each of those many connections you make has the potential to become a high point or a low point in someone’s day.” – Douglas Conant, American businessman
Takeaway: Small things make a difference.
42. “I have found that the more I honored others, the more they honored me and the more fulfilling my career became. In the business arena, I have been surrounded by people with awesome skills. The difference between good and great is determined by the mindset you choose to bring to the work. The concept of honor should be part of that mindset.” – Douglas Conant, American businessman
Takeaway: Recognition is fulfilling.
43. “Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman, American author
Takeaway: Money isn’t the only motivator..
44. “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.” – Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox
Takeaway: Make employees feel as important as they are.
45. “People want to be appreciated, cared for, loved, trusted, and respected. But they also want to be understood, and if you master the skills to achieve that, you truly become exceptional.” – Joe Navarro, American author
Takeaway: Understand people to make yourself invaluable.
46. “Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh, author
Takeaway: Recognition and gratitude “buy” a lot, yet cost nothing.
47. “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer, French-German theologian
Takeaway: Recognition can deeply touch others.
48. “Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.” – Tom Hopkins, author
Takeaway: Reinforce good behavior instead of taking it for granted.
49. “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American author
Takeaway: Act now.
50. “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” – Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon professor
Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude
51. “Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say thank you to everyone you meet for everything they do for you.” – Brian Tracy, American-Canadian motivational speaker
Takeaway: Practice gratitude in all you do.
52. “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” – Ralph Marston, American football player
Takeaway: Make recognition a habit.
53. “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” – James Allen, writer
Takeaway: Don’t wait to recognize your employees.
54. “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” – William Blake, English poet
Takeaway: Praise returns productivity.
55. “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” – W. Clement Stone, businessman
Takeaway: Share your appreciation.
56. “I think you need to love giving compliments as much as you love receiving them.” – Yami Gautam, India actress
Takeaway: Giving trumps receiving.
57. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia, American author
Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the importance of recognition.
58. “I was very pleased with your kind letter. Until now I never dreamed of being something like a hero. But since you’ve given me the nomination I feel that I am one.” – Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
Takeaway: You have the power to reshape employees’ images of themselves.
59. “Thanks will be a worthless word until a person tells it from heart. When a person thanks someone with full heart then the word will be big and worthy word and will have full meaning to the person. Or else it will remain small and valueless word if a person says it just for saying.” – Salman Aziz
Takeaway: Be sincere in recognition.
60. “Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr., American author
Takeaway: It’s safe to assume all your employees want recognition.
61. “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” – William James, American philosopher
Takeaway: Everyone loves praise.
62. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticism from superiors. I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my appreciation and lavish in my praise.” – Charles Schwab, founder of the Charles Schwab Corporation
Takeaway: Criticism kills productivity.
63. “There is nothing I need so much as nourishment for my Self Esteem.” – Alfred Lunt, American stage director
Takeaway: Consider praise vital nourishment.
64. “The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.” – Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People
Takeaway: Be thoughtful to avoid flattery.
65. “It does not matter who is in your team, what matters is who they will become because of you.” – Sunday Adelaja, pastor
Takeaway: You have influence.
66. “You become strong by lifting others up, not pulling them down.” – Matshona Dhliwayo, author
Takeaway: When you support others, you benefit as well.
67. “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
– Frank A. Clark, American politician
Takeaway: Be careful with criticism if you must give it.
68. “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, What’s in it for me?” – Brian Tracy, American-Canadian motivational speaker
Takeaway: Be selfless.
69. “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” – Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur
Takeaway: Be sure to serve everyone.
70. “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.” – Jim Stovall, American writer
Takeaway: Recognition echoes throughout the company.
71. “People want to be understood and respected as individuals. Years ago, an executive editor of mine said, ‘You should count the number of times you praise somebody and then double that.’ Even the toughest, steeliest writer or editor often really wants to be told, ‘Hey, that was a great piece.’ Early in my career as a manager, it probably took me a while to realize that everyone wants that. It’s just a human need.” – Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour
Takeaway: Strive to understand.