If you're reading this, you likely have at least heard of employee recognition. You may even know how powerful it can be for things like employee engagement, organizational culture, and employee retention – whether from reading about it or experiencing it in your own career.
You may have also heard that in the modern workplace, employee recognition isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a necessity.
So, we know recognition can be a powerful tool, but just how powerful? Could you quantify it? If the answer is no, don't worry. We recently partnered with Gallup to do just that.
Using data from thousands of employees across the U.S. and Western Europe, this Gallup report brings to light essential insights on what good recognition looks like, according to the people giving and receiving it. Here I'll break down the most up-to-date employee recognition statistics that leaders and HR professionals need to be aware of in the future of work.
Or for more information, read the full report here.
5 statistics that prove employee recognition matters
In today's world, information is coming at us from every direction imaginable. But occasionally you come across a piece of data so impactful, it sticks with you.
These five statistics around best practices for employee recognition certainly will.
According to the report, when employee recognition hits the mark, employees are:
- Less likely to leave: 5x as likely to see a path to grow in the organization
- More satisfied: 44% more likely to be “thriving” in their life overall
- More productive: 73% less likely to "always" or "very often" feel burned out
- More engaged: 4x as likely to be actively engaged at work
- More connected: 5x as likely to feel connected to their workplace culture
Does an employee recognition program really improve employee engagement and motivation?
Based on those five statistics, employee recognition programs can have a hugely positive impact on employee engagement and employee motivation. But remember, these employee recognition statistics are only possible if recognition is done right.
Here we'll go over some of the most important aspects to keep in mind when building out a successful employee recognition program.
What types of recognition do employees value most?
Employee recognition isn't just remembering to say "thank you," nor are all kinds of recognition the same. On a broad scale, recognition can be divided into two subsets: top-down recognition coming from a manager, leader, or other supervisor, and peer-to-peer recognition coming from anyone up and down the organizational structure.
According to Gallup, those employees who receive recognition only a few times a year from leaders are:
- 5x as likely to be actively disengaged
- 74% more likely to say they do not plan to be at the organization in one year
- 27% more likely to be struggling
Those employees who receive recognition only a few times a year from peers are:
- 3x as likely to be disengaged
- 39% more likely to say they don't plan to be at the organization in one year
- 24% more likely to be struggling
The data above shows neither type of recognition is truly "hitting the mark." Even though employees receiving recognition from peers are less likely to be disengaged than those who only receive recognition from leaders, the numbers still don't look great. Why is that?
In order for employee recognition to be both valued by employees and valuable for organizations, recognizing employees must be done in a frequent and consistent manner.
The data also shows the significantly higher impact of peer-to-peer recognition programs rather than only allowing senior leaders or HR professionals to give recognition.
If there is one thing to take away from this data, it's that a few times a year is not enough to move the needle on employee engagement, employee turnover, and employee satisfaction.
What makes recognition memorable?
A truly meaningful recognition moment can stick with an employee for their whole career. But what does "truly meaningful" really mean? And how can organizations provide managers the skills and resources to make these memorable moments happen?
According to Gallup's findings, memorable recognition that hits the mark must be:
- Fulfilling: Recognition moments must be genuine and create a consistent, reliable experience.
- Authentic: Awards must mean something, both to the giver and the receiver.
- Equitable: While every award message should be unique, employees should be recognized in a consistent, equitable way - especially with monetary rewards.
- Embedded in the culture: Recognition must be weaved into employees' everyday life in order to build a genuine culture of appreciation.
- Personalized: Different employees have different preferences on how or where they receive employee recognition.
These five pillars are essential for organizations looking to create the most memorable recognition for their employees.
Critical employee recognition research findings
Now that we've quantified just how powerful an employee recognition program can be, it's time to take a look at how these programs are performing in the real world.
What percentage of companies have recognition programs?
Gallup's research report found that only 36% of employees report their organization having some sort of recognition system in place.
Further, only 21% of employees report their organization tying monetary rewards to their recognition strategy.
This is especially surprising considering Workhuman® research found recognition with monetary rewards are 20% more effective than e-thanks alone when looking at reducing turnover.
By investing in recognition, you can save even more on reducing turnover - along with the myriad of other benefits we've discussed.
How often should employees be recognized?
One of the five pillars of good recognition is personalization - because each employee has a different idea of what the most meaningful recognition looks like to them.
Even so, Gallup research found only 10% of employees report being asked about their preferences for how and how often they get recognition.
Unfortunately, most companies are falling short on both the way recognition is given and how often. The new report found only 23% of employees strongly agree they get the right amount of recognition for the work they do. Something doesn't seem right.
How effective are employee recognition programs?
When done right, a successful employee recognition program can be the most effective tool in your organization's toolkit. And if the employee recognition statistics above weren't enough to prove its efficacy, this certainly will.
By creating a strong culture focused on rewarding employees for their good work, organizations can save millions.
In fact, a 10,000 person company can save up to $16.1 million in turnover costs annually. That's not even including the cost savings from increased engagement or productivity!
The 36% of organizations that have an employee recognition program also have a huge leg up against their competition.
And until that statistic hits 100%, it will continue to be difficult to make employees feel appreciated, potentially wreaking havoc on employee turnover, employee satisfaction, employee performance, and so much more.
About the AuthorMore Content by Sarah Bloznalis