Associations of recognition at work with subsequent health and quality of life among older working adults

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2022 May;95(4):835-847. doi: 10.1007/s00420-021-01804-w. Epub 2021 Oct 18.


Purpose: Recognition for work-an act of conveying non-financial appreciation for an outstanding accomplishment or performance-is the top motivator of employee performance and important contributor to psychologically healthy work. Employee recognition programs are offered by many companies and have been shown to retain top talent, increase job satisfaction, and performance. Yet, evidence on the role of received employee recognition for health and quality of life remains limited. This study examined whether receiving recognition for work was prospectively associated with six indicators of health, quality of life, and loneliness.

Methods: Data were retrieved from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), a biennial cross-national panel database of people aged > 50 years. Our sample included 5,048 middle-aged and older working adults.

Results: The results indicated that employees receiving recognition for work reported higher quality of life ([Formula: see text]=0.065, 95% CI = 0.047, 0.082), had lower risks of hypertension (RR = 0.932; 95% CI = 0.899, 0.966) and high blood cholesterol (RR = 0.922; 95% CI = 0.879, 0.967). These associations were independent of demographics, socioeconomic status, personality, prior history of diseases, depression, lifestyle, and work conditions. The set of sensitivity analyses provided substantial evidence for the robustness of the associations between recognition for work and quality of life as well as hypertension but not necessarily with high blood cholesterol.

Conclusions: Promotion of employee recognition might emerge as a valuable business resource and health policy tool helping middle-aged and older adults maintain health and good quality of life. It may also help willing older adults to remain on the labour market until older age.

Keywords: Culture of health; Health outcomes; Quality of life; Recognition for work; SHARE.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholesterol
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retirement


  • Cholesterol