Low recognition and reward

How to improve how you recognise and reward employees for their efforts.


Step 1: Learn about low recognition and reward

What is low recognition and reward?

Low recognition and low reward occurs in the workplace when there is low level of acknowledgment, reward, or recognition for employees’ contributions, achievements and efforts.

Some of the situations that may lead to employees experiencing low recognition and reward include:

  • there is lack of feedback or not enough feedback about performance
  • lack of positive feedback
  • there is a lack of opportunity for skills development

Workplaces that provide reward and recognition are shown to have further ongoing healthy behaviour changes .whereas workplaces that do not, have been shown to be linked to mental injuries such as depression). It can also lead to lower productivity, reduced morale and increased absences. It could even lead to employee resignations, requiring additional time and money to hire and train new employees.

What are your rights and responsibilities at work?

Employers must provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and free from risks to health, including psychological health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety in the workplace, and the health and safety of others. They must also cooperate with employers to create a safe environment.

To manage risks associated with low recognition and reward, follow the risk management process below.

Step 2: Consult your employees

Consultation can be done in a number of ways. Depending on your workplace, it can be as simple as casually walking around your workplace having a conversation, or as formal as setting up a health and safety committee.

Good consultation has lots of benefits – it leads to better decision making and greater cooperation and trust between employers and employees, who get a better understanding of each other's views.

Consultation isn't just good practice though, it’s actually a legal requirement for employers. Employers must consult with employees including health and safety representatives (if any), about matters that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect, their health and safety. This includes identifying whether low recognition and reward may be a hazard at the workplace, and working out how to eliminate or reduce the risk of it occurring. At a minimum, it must involve sharing information about an issue, giving employees reasonable opportunity to share their views on that issue, and taking those views into consideration.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities, as well as how best to consult

Step 3: Identify hazards and risks

A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm to a person. Think of hazards like 'situations' or 'things' in the workplace that can hurt someone, either physically or mentally. The risk is the potential of the harm actually happening.

For example, a cable on the floor is a physical hazard. The risk is being physically injured from tripping on that cable. The same applies to hazards that affect our mental health – these are known as psychosocial hazards.

Low recognition and reward is an example of a psychosocial hazard. Exposure to low recognition and reward can increase the risk to psychological health. When risks associated with low recognition and reward are not effectively managed, this may lead to or exacerbate psychological injuries.

Examples of situations that may lead to employees experiencing low recognition and reward include:

  • Imbalance of employees' efforts with formal and informal recognition and rewards.
  • Lack of opportunity for skills development.
  • Employees' skills and experience are under-used.
  • Unfair employee award processes that do not match employee contributions to the organisation.
  • Underpayment or non-payment of extra hours or overtime.

Often multiple hazards can be present at the same time and can combine to increase the risk of harm occurring. For example, low levels of recognition and reward, high job demands, and poor support from colleagues or supervisors can combine to increase the risk of harm.

Step 4: Assess the risks

A risk assessment will help you understand the risks to your employees' health and safety, and how to prioritise your efforts to manage them.

It is good practice to identify hazards, both individually and together, that are creating risks to health and safety. Once you have identified the hazards, you can assess the risk of them occurring.

Risk assessment tips

Step 5: Control the risks

A control simply means 'ways to manage' an issue. Controls are things you put in place to eliminate or reduce risks. The list could be endless, but it's really just about taking action, so far as reasonably practicable, to manage the risks associated with low recognition and reward.

Here are some ways that employers can take action (or 'implement a control') to create a safe workplace.

Remember to measure the effectiveness of existing controls to see if they're working and look for new ways to control the risks.

Step 6: Share, review and improve

A safe and mentally healthy workplace needs ongoing commitment and engagement.

Check whether the controls you've implemented are still relevant and effective. By sharing the outcomes of these reviews, as well as suggestions and recommendations for improvements, you can keep the conversation going. This will continue to build trust and cooperation between you and your employees. Consultation must be undertaken before making any changes to, the workplace, things used at the workplace, or the conduct of work at the workplace, which may affect employee health and safety, and these changes should be communicated to your employees.

More information

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.