Employee recognition at work: a study of employee experiences

Smith, Charlotte (2014) Employee recognition at work: a study of employee experiences. PhD thesis, University of York.

Employee recognition at work.pdf
Employee recognition at work.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


Despite evidence of its increasingly widespread use within organisations and a significant body of practitioner and “popular” literature on the subject, employee recognition has received relatively little empirical study by academic researchers. As a result, there are significant gaps in our knowledge, particularly around how recognition schemes actually operate in organisations and the ways in which they impact upon individuals and organisations. This thesis responds to these knowledge gaps through presenting empirical evidence collected through in-depth interviews with employees drawn from two organisations, an insurance company and a local council, about their experiences of recognition in the workplace.

Taking an inductive thematic approach to the analysis of the employees’ accounts, I identify some of the key factors influencing employees’ experiences of recognition, thus contributing to knowledge about how recognition schemes are experienced and understood by employees. In particular, I highlight the importance of the social and organisational context in which recognition is given and received in influencing the meanings which individuals assign to recognition. I also discuss the ways in which further factors such as the recognition scheme design and implementation, including the way in which recognition is delivered to recipients, can mediate individuals’ experiences of recognition.

Drawing upon theories of gift giving, I offer interpretations of employees’ accounts of their recognition experiences which identify three main important social functions fulfilled by employee recognition: the communication of information about the perceptions and intentions of individuals involved in the process of recognition, the development and maintenance of social exchange relationships between individuals in the workplace, and the promotion of a sense of solidarity and unity within the organisation. Furthermore, whilst offering insights into its possible positive social functions and implications, this thesis contributes to knowledge about employee recognition by drawing attention to its possible dysfunctional consequences. The findings of this thesis are useful for practitioners responsible for designing and implementing employee recognition schemes, as well as for academic researchers seeking to understand the underlying dynamics of employee recognition as a human resource management practice.

Keywords:Employee recognition, Gift exchange, Qualitative research, Human resource management, Dysfunctional consequences
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N600 Human Resource Management
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:23877
Deposited On:04 Oct 2017 09:45

Repository Staff Only: item control page