Employee Retention

Fewer Than 1 of 4 Workers’ Recognition Needs Fulfilled: Weekly Stat

Many workers actively looking for new jobs did not feel valued and validated by current managers or other company leaders.
Vincent RyanJuly 20, 2022
Fewer Than 1 of 4 Workers’ Recognition Needs Fulfilled: Weekly Stat
Photo: Getty Images

The future of work, according to a report by Gallup and Workhuman, a cloud-based employee-management platform, is showing employees they are valued.

“Employees bring their wellbeing, or lack thereof, to work with them every day,” according to the report. “It shows up in their productivity levels, work quality, interactions with other associates,” and their contributions to the organization.

However, according to a survey of more than 7,600 U.S. working adults conducted by Gallup and Workhuman, some organizations don’t behave as if employee recognition is important.

  • 81% of company leaders said employee recognition is not a strategic priority for their organization
  • 73% of senior company leaders said their organization does not offer managers or other leaders best-practices training for employee recognition
  • 40% of employees said they received recognition only a few times a year or less from a manager, supervisor, or other leader

In a tight U.S. labor market, employee recognition may be an even more useful tool. According to the research, acknowledging employees’ contributions and achievements can reduce attrition and turnover — and the costs that come along with them

A Gallup algorithm developed to predict employee turnover shows that a company of about 10,000 people can save an estimated $16.1 million in turnover costs annually when recognition is made part of company culture.

Our stat this week shows U.S. workers looking to exit an organization have a much different view of their recognition experience than those who indicated they were loyal to the organization.

Only about one-quarter of employees actively looking or watching for new job opportunities “strongly agree” that their recognition needs were fulfilled or that recognition was authentic, equitable, or “embedded in the company’s culture.” (See the chart below, Unrecognized Employees Likely to Leave?) But nearly three-quarters of workers who said they were loyal to their organization chose “strongly agree” to those same statements.

The Gallup/Workhuman report defines the recognition attributes in the chart as follows:

Fulfilling: The success of a recognition strategy “should not be judged solely by whether a frequency quote is being met.” Instead, a company needs to provide a “consistent and reliable experience” to fulfill employee needs to feel valued and validated, the report said.

Authentic: “Empty words or gestures will not land,” according to the report. Employee recognition is more meaningful when it is clear why it is being given. That means telling employees how their work made an impact or tying monetary rewards to a specific achievement or goal.

Equitable: To the individual employee, how much recognition a fellow employee gets matters. “When employees see recognition that is out of balance — particularly when they feel they are being shorted — it triggers an alarm to their basic needs for fairness, and damages their overall employee experience,” the report said.

Embedded in the company’s culture: “A culture of recognition is one in which gratitude, praise, and appreciation are freely given, regularly received, and reach all corners of the organization.” Simply having a recognition program is not enough, according to Gallup/Workhuman.

The fifth “pillar” of employee recognition — not addressed in the survey questions — is personalization. Employees have different preferences for how and where they receive recognition, said the report. Some prefer recognition in private, others public. Some value monetary rewards highly, others less so.