Yes, Culture & Recognition Matters to Workers — Everywhere in the World

I hear time and again that “it’s different over there.” Or,“They do things differently. They don’t have the same expectations our employees here have.”

I hear this most often about the Asia/Pacific region and usually specifically about China. “We can’t recognize employees individually over there. They don’t want that kind of recognition. It goes against their culture.”

Really? Out of six items listed in an article in the China Daily on the “Six essentials every employee wants in their job,” recognition and culture were two of them:

Appreciation and recognition – Employees want to feel that their contributions are appreciated and that they are being rewarded for their achievements. Recognition does not always have to be extravagant or costly. For many people, a simple thank you note, a genuine compliment or praising their work in public or to senior management can carry a lot of significance but cost the employer hardly anything to provide.”

Corporate culture – Due to the large amount of time they spend at work, many employees may place a strong and positive corporate culture high on their list. More often than not, the senior management of an organization is responsible for shaping and determining the company’s culture – and their values, beliefs and vision will have a trickle-down effect on their employees.”

If you hear the refrain “they’re different over there” in your organization, keep in mind the experience of one of our clients in the Asia/Pacific region. Instead of playing into the stereotypes, they made their recognition program available to all employees, everywhere in the world. As a result, they saw the greatest increase in recognition – and in employee engagement, which increased 25 percent in the first year – in the Asia/Pacific region.

Culture matters. Recognition matters. Everywhere in the world.

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Does your company buy into global recognition stereotypes? What are you doing to combat it?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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