Miscellaneous articles on staff recognition

Finding a Link Between Recognition and Longevity

When Kate Winslet and Sean Penn collected their Academy Awards in Hollywood last month, they may have received more than a golden statuette. They may have also received the gift of four more years.

Researchers at the University of Toronto medical school found that Oscar winners live an average of 3.9
years longer than non-winners…79.7 years versus 75.8 years. And the benefits seem even greater for multiple winners, who lived an average of six years longer. Four time winner Katharine Hepburn lived to age 96.

Dr. Donald Redelmeier suggests that this recognition has a powerful impact on a person's health. “Once you've got that statuette on your mantel place, it's an uncontested sign of peer approval that nobody can take away from you…it leaves you more resilient. The normal stresses and strains of everyday life do not drag you down,” he told CBS news.

What does this mean for the rest of us?

It could be that being recognized is good for one's health. Staff members who are told regularly that they are appreciated for what they do may be more able to deal with the stresses of everyday work and be more resilient when faced with challenges than others who work in an environment characterized by an abundance of negative feedback.

Or, suppose for a moment that the researchers got it wrong. It's not that the winners live longer; it's that those who are not recognized die sooner. Staff members who go for weeks, months…even years…without receiving any positive feedback or no feedback at all may be uncertain about whether or not they are meeting expectations.

They may interpret a lack of feedback as evidence that they are failing and that it is only a matter of time until their supervisors overcome any reluctance to deliver the bad news. They become preoccupied with not knowing how they are doing. Their productivity drops. Stress-related absences increase. They worry themselves into early graves.

It doesn't matter which of these interpretations we apply to this data. The message is the same: well delivered recognition is likely one factor in extending a person's lifespan. Recognition may also increase how much of those longer lives people spend working for your organization.

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