In this article Megan does a nice job summarizing the key issues surrounding employee recognition, including that recognition needs to be timely, scaled properly, authentic and the like. I also enjoyed her comparisons to the praise that parents heap on their children and the expectations set by a world that loves to hand out badges.
As the president of both a 40 decade old recognition/reward company (All Star Incentive Marketing) and a new start up (GoalUP) that allows parents to set goals for their children to encourage greater levels of success, I have seen everything good and bad that properly and poorly designed recognition programs have to offer.
The one thing that Megan, and so many others, misses is the difference between cash compensation (and equivalents like gift cards and cash cards) and tangible awards. Whether dealing with a 10 year old child or a 40 year old employee, properly designed programs, that follow many of the guidelines that Megan lays out, and that provide appropriate tangible awards wrapped in right-sized recognition work best over the long haul. The difference in perception between cash compensation and tangible awards makes all the difference.