There is an important difference between gratitude and recognition. Gratitude is nonjudgmental, while recognition highlights good performance in a specific way (Skinner, 2017). Both are necessary for a healthy workplace culture and the opportunity for employees to experience true engagement in the workplace. Successful leaders understand that employees are people. The key to showing appreciation is knowing employees as individuals, understanding what matters to them, and what type of gratitude has the maximum benefit to the employee and to the organization's goals. Consider Southwest Airlines who used to send pins to employees through the mail to recognize milestone years of service, until they realized they were missing the opportunity for impact. Now, they send the pins to leaders to present to employees in front of peers as part of recognition and celebration, thereby changing the game and the impact (Newman, 2017).
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