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The Bickley Blog: Nobel Intentions

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This week the winners of the six categories of the 2019 Nobel Prize will be announced.

Alfred Nobel, after whom the prizes are named, was born in Stockholm on October 21, 1833 and died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896. Upon his death it came as a surprise to many, not least some members of his family, that his fortune was to be used for Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. The award for Economic Sciences was added in 1968.

Nobel is probably most famous for inventing dynamite, though he was not just an inventor and scientist: he was a prolific businessman and industrialist.

Many of the companies he founded still play a prominent role in the global economy, such as Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Société Centrale de Dynamite in France; and Dyno Industries in Norway.

Although the Nobel committees never announce the names of candidates and nominations are not revealed for 50 years, there is always plenty of speculation.

This year, the ‘star’ candidate is Greta Thunberg of Sweden, the sixteen year old who has made headlines around the world for her environmental activism on climate change, more the remarkable given a recent YouGov poll where only 36% of respondents in Sweden said humans were to mainly blame for climate change!

Whatever your views of her, you definitely can’t ignore her.

For those lucky enough (or talented enough) to win a Nobel Prize and become a Laureate it is the ultimate accolade, the highest recognition for work in their chosen field.

Of course, Laureates are incredibly driven individuals, who don’t need much encouragement for the dedication they give to their work.

For us mere mortals, recognition plays a vital role in employee engagement, which in turn has an enormous impact on building and maintaining a successful workplace.

Employees who feel valued for their work are more likely to be productive, committed and loyal to their employers.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) references employee engagement as having three key measurable physical and psychological states:

  • Vigour – energy, resilience and effort
  • Dedication – enthusiasm, inspiration and pride 
  • Absorption – concentration and being engrossed in work

When trying to quantify how much engaged employees add to the bottom line, statistics vary significantly between sources.

However, in a paper published last year by IBM and Globoforce, that sought to analyse the relationship between employee experience and an organization’s financial outcomes, the tale of the tape was fairly clear-cut: those companies that scored in the top 25% on employee experience reported nearly three times the return on assets and double the return on sales compared to those in the bottom quartile.


Recognition is just one technique for improving employee engagement. Others include incentive schemes and rewards, health and wellbeing programmes such as flexible working hours, and personal growth and development plans.

Some of the techniques can be costly and time consuming to implement. But recognition should be a quick and straightforward strategy for organisations of any size: borrowing a phrase from Gallup, the global analytics and advice firm – recognition is Low Cost, High Impact.

In a 2016 workplace survey by Gallup, the responses highlighted six noteworthy means of giving meaningful recognition:

  • public recognition or acknowledgment via an award, certificate or commendation
  • private recognition from a boss, peer or customer
  • receiving or obtaining a high level of achievement through evaluations or reviews
  • promotion or increase in scope of work or responsibility to show trust
  • monetary award such as a trip, prize or pay increase
  • personal satisfaction or pride in work

There are many ways to give employee recognition. The key to success is to make sure it is honest and authentic, and tailored to the individual.

At Cooper Golding, we like to follow these rules internally and when we engage with our clients and candidates alike: our service is always honest, authentic and bespoke to your requirements.

Get in touch to find out more.