September 6, 2019

Meaningful Work Tops Company Culture, Compensation, and Perks as Workers’ #1 Must-Have in New Global Employee Survey

To retain employees, companies must focus on trust, recognition, respect, gratitude, autonomy, and equity

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. & DUBLIN – September 5, 2019 – With unemployment rates at historic lows, companies are more desperate than ever to recruit and retain good talent. According to a new global survey released today by WorkhumanÒ, the leading provider of human applications, the answer to retention lies in meaningful work and creating a human-focused environment built upon trust, recognition, respect, gratitude, autonomy, and equity.  

The report, “The Future of Work is Human,” surveyed more than 3,500 people in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, and gives people leaders and executives a glimpse at the future of work as told from the perspectives of the humans in organizations. The study, published by WorkhumanÒ Analytics & Research Institute, provides insights to help employers improve engagement, recruitment, retention, and performance management—with the end goal of creating work cultures that are mutually beneficial to businesses and the people driving them.

One of the survey’s most important findings is that workers across all age groups rank meaningful work as the most important aspect of their career, beating out positive company culture, compensation and perks, a supportive manager, and a fun team. Younger employees (ages 18-24) are more likely to rank a supportive manager as the second most important aspect of their career, while workers 35 and older are more likely to rank compensation and perks second to meaningful work. The survey also revealed that workers are four times as likely to report loving their job when they have a sense of meaning and purpose at work.

“In this job seeker’s market, employees are actively seeking out more human-focused work environments where they have an emotional connection to their work and their company’s mission,” said Eric Mosley, CEO of Workhuman. “As humans are very much at the heart of the future of work, companies must focus on their workers’ core human needs and double down on inspiring meaningful work where employees feel recognized, respected, and empowered to do the best work of their lives.”

The report found that frequent recognition, particularly recognition that can be given by everyone, appreciation, and informal check-ins play a large role in building connections and improving employees’ trust in senior leadership. In fact, workers who have given recognition and expressed gratitude in the last month are 26% more likely to trust their company’s senior leadership team than workers who have never expressed gratitude at work (72% vs. 57%). Additionally, workers who check in with their manager at least weekly as opposed to never are more than two times as likely to trust their manager, five times less likely to be disengaged, and nearly two times as likely to believe they can grow in the organization.

The report also looked at several key workplace issues that directly impact employee well-being and humanity, such as diversity and inclusion, gender equity, discrimination, and celebration of work anniversaries.

Key findings include:

  1. One in four workers have felt discriminated against over the course of their career. More than half of all workers surveyed chose age as the top factor driving discrimination. However, discrimination is not the top reason people don’t feel safe at work. Employees ranked a toxic work culture as their top choice, followed by race/gender discrimination, and physical risks.
  2. Women in senior and middle management are more likely to have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace. About one in four women in senior management or executive roles say they do not have a good work/life balance compared to men.
  3. Recent, frequent recognition is associated with higher gratitude levels and lower stress levels. Trust is another form of relational currency that can be leveraged during times of change and uncertainty at work. Data indicates frequent recognition can help here as well. Workers recognized in the last month at companies that have been through a merger or acquisition in the last year are nearly 2x as likely to trust in their company’s leadership team, compared to those who have never been recognized for their work (82% vs. 46%).
  4. In the U.S., women surveyed in senior management or executive positions are less likely to receive a higher bonus and more likely to receive smaller bonus than men. More than half of women surveyed in middle and front-line management positions say a manager has taken credit for their work.
  5. More than half of all workers surveyed (51%) say their last work anniversary was not acknowledged. While unfortunate, the results aren’t surprising. Too many companies rely on a one-dimensional, manager-driven approach to celebrating service anniversaries and career milestones. When the data is filtered by workers who have been at their company for more than eight years, that number ticks up slightly to 53%. When work anniversaries were recognized, 64% of respondents said it did not make them feel a renewed commitment to the company and 53% said it made them feel nothing at all. To improve the anniversary experience, workers said they would prefer shared memories and congratulations from co-workers and managers as well as private and public congratulations from a manager.
  6. The number one perk reported as the most important by workers across all ages, regions, and industries is remote/flexible work (41%), followed by healthcare coverage (27%). Other perks include tuition reimbursement, wellness programs, parental leave, referral bonuses, free food, and an on-site gym.

To review the full survey, please visit:

Survey Methodology:

This survey was directed by the Workhuman® Analytics & Research Institute from June 1-17, 2019. This is the 11th deployment of this employee survey since its launch in Spring 2011. The respondent sampling of this survey was conducted by independent market research firm Dynata. The final sample of the survey was composed of 3,573 randomly selected fully employed persons in the U.S., U.K, Canada, and Ireland (age 18 or older). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.6 percentage points at a 95% level of confidence.

About Workhuman

Workhuman® helps forward-thinking companies energize their cultures, unlock their employees’ passion and potential, and unite their workforce around a shared purpose. With the world’s fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform, our mission is to lead the movement to celebrate the power of humanity in the workplace through gratitude and peer-to-peer recognition. Workhuman® Cloud uncovers provocative workplace data and human insights, delivering tangible results powered by our core belief — the more motivated and valued employees are, the more they can perform the best work of their lives. Workhuman (formerly known as Globoforce) was founded in 1999 and is co-headquartered in Framingham, Mass., and Dublin.

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