Abstract (Professional recognition and motivation at work)

Sadji N. Gbandey§,

Raissa Zomblewou


Paboussoum Pari

Summary: Today, motivation is one of the most relevant factors in the psychosociological analysis of companies. There are a number of motivational levers, including working conditions, remuneration systems and management strategies, such as clear, transparent communication and professional recognition. The latter is an important factor in the mobilization of human resources, and an essential element in striking the right balance between organizational efficiency and employee well-being (Siegrist). The aim of this study was to understand work motivation as a function of professional recognition. We therefore hypothesized a relationship between recognition and work motivation. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a survey of one hundred and six (106) operatives from ten (10) security companies, using Fall's job recognition and Blais et al.'s job motivation scales. This study shows that recognition has various effects on work motivation. While company recognition does have an impact on demotivation (r = 0.399; p =0.000), the same cannot be said for recognition by superiors (r = 0.086 and p = 0, 382) and recognition by peers (r = 0.186 and p = 15.37).

Key words: Professional recognition, Work motivation, Companies

Abstract: Motivation is one of the most relevant factors in the psychosocial analysis of companies today. There are several motivation levers, among others: working conditions, the remuneration system and management strategies including clear and transparent communication and professional acknowledgement. This last notion is an important factor in mobilizing human resources and an essential element if the right balance is to be found between organizational efficiency and the well-being of workers (Siegrist). The objective of this study was to understand work motivation as a function of professional acknowledgement. We therefore hypothesized a relationship between acknowledgement and motivation at work. In order to verify this hypothesis, we conducted a survey of one hundred and six (106) agents of several security companies using the work acknowledgement scales of Fall and work motivation of Blais and al. This study shows that acknowledgement have different effects on demotivation at work. While corporate acknowledgement does have an impact on demotivation (r = 0,399; p =0,000), the same cannot be said for acknowledgement from superiors (r = 0,086 and p = 0,382) and acknowledgement by peers (r = 0,186 and p = 15,37).

Keywords: Professional Acknowledgement, Motivation at work, Companies


Optimal employee performance has become a constant preoccupation for organizations wishing to gain a competitive edge (Fall). To this end, human resources play an increasingly important role in the management of organizations. Their creativity and productivity are in high demand. Motivation has thus become the main factor in workplace performance. It occupies a central place in the study of issues linked to individual and collective performance, well-being at work, employee involvement and loyalty, and is therefore a determining factor in human resources management policies (Terramorsi and Perreti; Fall).

The concept of motivation represents "the hypothetical construct used to describe the internal and/or external forces producing the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior" (Roussel 3). The motivational process is triggered by the action of an internal force that depends on personal factors (needs, drives, instinct, personality traits). It can also come from an external motivational force (work environment, nature of the job, management style of superiors, etc.). Both internal and external motivators are changeable and specific to each individual. The degree of motivation can be either weak or strong (Roussel).

Today, motivation is one of the most relevant factors in the psychosociological analysis of Togolese companies. Numerous strategies have been put forward to improve motivation. However, according to observations (Kazimna; Pari), whatever the type of company, much remains to be done. We were interested in security firms, and for good reason: many of the complaints recorded by the labor inspectorate concern them. By taking a closer look at the authors of these complaints, we were able to identify a number of problem areas.

First of all, we've noted attendance problems in this type of structure (repeated absences and lateness of security guards, abandonment of posts without reason), resignations and complaints about working conditions. When you consider that the best-performing companies are those with the most motivated employees (Baron), these findings are cause for concern for any manager anxious to place his or her company among the best performers.

There are several levers of motivation, including working conditions, remuneration and management strategies, such as clear, transparent communication and professional recognition. The latter notion has been increasingly addressed in organizational management research over the past two decades. It is an important factor in mobilizing human resources, and an essential element in striking the right balance between organizational efficiency and employee well-being (Siegrist). For others, recognition at work is a stress resistance factor and a genuine determinant of organizational commitment (Fall; Roussel).

The inadequacy, or even absence, of recognition practices, the failure to take into account the value of one's work, one's skills, whether explicit or tacit, and one's social function within the company, are recurrent complaints from employees in different sectors of activity, and have a negative influence on the meaning of work (Diez and Carton; Loriol). The relevance of recognition at work in the analysis of motivation is no longer in doubt (Burn and Dugas).

Lack of recognition is the second factor (after work overload) cited as a cause of distress. A culture of punishment prevails. And as one HR manager so aptly put it, "recognition is the acknowledgement we all need to keep sending our messages" (Laval 57).

According to Burn and Dugas, recognition is a set of appreciations made either by the company as an institution, or by the manager, or by work colleagues or customers towards an employee. It begins with the appreciation of the individual as a human being (existential recognition), through the way in which he or she carries out his or her profession (recognition of work practice) and the way in which he or she invests in his or her work (recognition of investment), to the recognition of his or her results.

According to our findings during conflict resolution sessions at the labor inspectorate, these recognition practices are not very common in Togo's guarding companies. The most common practice is monetary recognition. Many labor disputes reported to the labor inspectorate concern security firms. In fact, several of the guards we met during our exploratory survey told us that they received neither praise nor encouragement for their work. In view of the above, we asked ourselves the following question: Does professional recognition explain the work motivation of security guards?

More specifically: does recognition by the company, recognition by superiors and recognition by peers negatively influence agents' motivation to work? We hypothesize that professional recognition explains agents' motivation to work. Specifically, (1) recognition by the company, (2) recognition by superiors and (3) recognition by peers are positively linked to agent demotivation. The aim of this research is therefore to understand work motivation as a function of professional recognition.

1- Methods

1.1. Participants

The study population consisted of all security agency employees, including security guards from ten (10) security companies in Greater Lomé (INTER-CON Security Systems, T.A.S., U.S., REGARDE TOGO, BOILIMAN, ACEP-AFRIQUE GROUP, OPS, PATRIOT FOX GLOBAL PROTECTION, STPS, EASY CONCEPT SECURITY). Study participants were selected from male and female volunteers. The number of respondents was determined according to several factors: the voluntary nature of participation, the respondents' genuine interest and availability to provide relevant information, and the management of the meetings. Based on the respondents we met in the various companies and who agreed to answer our questions, we constituted a convenience sample of one hundred and six (106) agents. Our respondents were mostly men (84%), aged between 25 and 31 (23.6%).

1.2. Transfer

Two collection tools were used:

- Fall's work recognition scale ;

- work motivation scale by Blais et al.

The Fall scale comprises three (03) dimensions with 12 items: recognition by peers (from item 1 to 4); recognition by superiors (from item 5 to 8) and recognition by the company (from item 9 to 12). The evaluation is based on a five-point Likert scale. The Cronbach's alpha we calculated for this scale is 0.848 > 0.50 for the 12 items. This result is acceptable and reveals the reliability of the scale.

The Blais et al. scale assesses intrinsic motivation (items 1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 16, 14, 19, 22, 24, 27, 29), extrinsic motivation (3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 23, 26, 28, 30) and amotivation (2, 6, 10, 17, 21, 25, 31). Items were evaluated using a seven-point (07) Likert scale (1= does not correspond at all; 2= corresponds very little; 3= corresponds a little; 4= corresponds moderately; 5= corresponds fairly; 6= corresponds strongly; 7= corresponds very strongly). The Cronbach's alpha obtained for this scale is 0.908 > 0.50.

1.3. Analysis methods

The data collected were processed in SPSS version 18.0. We used Pearson's rhô as a statistical test for this research. Correlation is the relationship between two phenomena that vary according to each other. It can be positive or negative, ranging from -1 to 1. We also used linear regression to confirm the relationships between our variables.

2. Results and discussion

2.1. Results

Table 1: Relationship between company recognition and employee motivation

The table above shows the results of the cross-tabulation between company recognition and motivation. The analysis reveals a positive correlation: r = 0.399 and p = 0.000 (highly significant correlation at the 0.01 threshold). A relationship therefore seems to exist between professional recognition and motivation at work. Indeed, when agents receive recognition from the company, they are intrinsically motivated.

In order to determine the exact role of recognition at work in explaining motivation, wecarried out a linear regression.

Table 2: Simple linear regression between company recognition and employee intrinsic motivation

Looking at the table above, we can confirm the significant relationship between the two variables (r = 0.399; p =0.000) and deduce that the company's recognition of the agents explains 15.9% (R-two) of their motivation. 

Table 3: Relationship between recognition by superiors and motivation at work

Analysis of this table shows that there is no relationship between recognition by superiors and employee work motivation. In fact, the correlation between the two variables is not significant, with r = 0.086 and p = 0.382.

Nevertheless, using simple linear regression, we're going to check the link between the two variables.

Table 4: Simple linear regression between recognition by superiors and employee motivation

  R R-two R-two adjusted Sig. Variation of F
 ,086a,007 -,002 0,382

The regression confirms the non-significant relationship between the two variables (r = 0.086 and p = 0, 382). Recognition by superiors explains 0.7% of employee motivation.

Table 5: Relationship between colleague recognition and employee motivation

Table 6 shows a non-significant positive correlation between recognition by colleagues and motivation (r = 0.186 and p = 0.057). These two variables therefore do not move in the same direction.

We calculated a simple regression to check the explanatory role of colleague recognition in employee motivation.

Table 6: Simple linear regression between colleague recognition and employee intrinsic motivation

 R R-two Adjusted R-two Standard error of estimate
,186a,035 ,025 15,375

 Looking at the table above, the regression confirms the non-significant relationship between the two variables (r = 0.186 and p = 15.37). This suggests that recognition by colleagues explains 3.5% (R-two) of employee motivation. The share of recognition by colleagues in explaining motivation is low.

2.2. Discussion of results

The aim of this study was to predict motivation on the basis of recognition at work. The hypothesis derived from this objective stipulated that recognition at work influences workers' motivation. This hypothesis is partially confirmed by the results presented above. In this particular case, it seems to be recognition by the company that is fundamentally sought after by employees. As for the relationship between recognition by peers and by superiors, it is not significant.

The results obtained have theoretical implications for the existing literature. Firstly, the theory of recognition in the workplace has been enhanced, since it allows us to understand, if only in part, worker motivation. In fact, recognition has an impact on worker motivation. Given that recognition at work is a relatively recent research theme, these findings enrich it considerably.

Secondly, the results make a theoretical contribution to the literature on self-determination theory (SDT). More specifically, recognition at work adds an important dimension to the understanding of the characteristics of the social environment that contribute to the satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and thus to motivation (Ryan and Deci). The present research demonstrates the contribution of recognition to worker motivation. In the same vein, Gagné and Deci have demonstrated the link between the satisfaction of psychological needs (the basis of motivation) in the workplace and job satisfaction. Through recognition, the company encourages autonomy and competence, and facilitates the worker's social integration within it. In fact, recognition can be seen as a management practice that promotes worker self-determination.

Taking into account three sources of recognition (company, supervisor and peers) allows us to distinguish the distinct role they play on employee motivation and functioning at work. The results suggest that company recognition plays a decisive role in regulating motivational behaviour. It contributes to the appreciation of the task, and to the pleasure and satisfaction employees feel in their work. Laval came to the same conclusion. In the light of TAD (Deci and Ryan), it is reasonable to argue that, through recognition, the company succeeds in creating a work environment that facilitates the emergence of self-determined behaviours. We believe that in this case, the importance of the company's role over the other two (superiors and peers) explains why the influence of the latter two variables is less important. It also explains why these latter results differ from those obtained by Gagné and Deci and Gagné et al. who, in particular, consider that the superior's interpersonal style has a direct impact on the satisfaction of workers' psychological needs. These authors also assert that the interpersonal atmosphere, as well as positive feedback on work performance, are two key factors in the satisfaction of workers' psychological needs.

Finally, the results contribute to our understanding of one of the determinants of motivation. By combining the notion of psychological need derived from TAD and the theory of recognition at work to understand workers' motivation, it is possible to identify some of the psychological processes by which recognition at work contributes to the prediction of motivation at work. This is another important theoretical contribution.


Motivation is a fundamental concern in the world of work, especially in our developing countries, since its intensity and quality make it easier to describe, explain and predict psychological and behavioral consequences. Similarly, recognition is an essential element in preserving and building individual identity and giving meaning to work. As these two factors are crucial in the world of work, because of their impact on the life of the worker and, in turn, on the company's development, we have focused our study on the links between them.

Our analyses confirm our hypothesis on the effect of company recognition on worker motivation. We noted that the other modalities considered (recognition by superiors and recognition by peers) did not confirm this effect. We used tools (Fall's Work Recognition Scale and Blais et al.'s Work Motivation Scale) whose validity is recognized in research on recognition and motivation at work.

In terms of human resources management, a number of lessons can be drawn from the results of this research. Indeed, this new understanding of the determinants of motivation at work will, among other things, enable management practices to be adapted to the fundamental needs of workers, emphasizing the importance of implementing recognition policies within companies. Thus, organizational interventions to promote worker well-being will need to take account of workers' fundamental needs, and attempt to integrate recognition practices.

This type of research, especially in the African context, appears to be a contribution to research on motivation in the workplace. Complementary directions should be considered. For example, an analysis based on other typologies of recognition, and a more in-depth analysis of the different forms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

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How to cite this article:

MLA: Gbandey, Sadji N., Raissa Zomblewou, Paboussoum Pari. "Professional recognition and motivation at work". Uirtus 1.2 (December 2021): 57-68.

§ University of Lomé, [email protected]