How to Protect Against All-Time High Turnover

November 28, 2018 Sarah Mulcahy

LED Sign

A couple of years ago, Gartner set out to learn what prompts a person to start looking for a new job. It surveyed more than 8,000 workers and found job-search activity jumps by 17 percent after a manager or responsibility change. The second highest jump in activity is after a person attends a social gathering with friends, family, or former classmates.

This bit of research is important for HR and people leaders to keep in mind, especially during the holidays and considering overall workplace turnover just hit an all-time high. As workers are constantly reminded of new opportunities in the market or comparing their career to others in their social network, it becomes even more critical to remind them how appreciated they are at your company and to celebrate significant life events.

But how effective and consistent are we at recognizing our people? Globoforce’s new survey report, “Social Impact in the Human Workplace,” takes a closer look at the state of recognition in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

We asked workers, “When was the last time you were recognized for your contributions at work?” We found:

  • Only 16% of workers have been recognized in the last month
  • 1 in 5 (22%) workers have not been recognized in a year or more
  • 18% of workers have never been recognized

One reason for the lack of recognition is the fact that one in three companies (30%) have no formal recognition program. Another 25% of companies have a recognition program that is not tied to core values. And the good news is 45% of companies have a recognition program that provides awards based on performance and behaviors tied to core values.

But not all recognition programs are created equal. In fact, there is a correlation between values-based recognition and a person’s willingness to recommend their company to a friend. Check out the stats below. At companies with values-based recognition, workers are 23% more likely to recommend a friend.

Not only could values-based recognition help with your recruiting efforts, but it’s also strongly correlated with a more positive employee experience. Workers at companies with values-based recognition are 30% more likely to report a positive experience at work. Check out the data below.

Perhaps your organization has metrics or goals around employee engagement? Here’s where the data gets interesting. At companies with a values-based recognition program, 89% of workers report being mostly/highly engaged, versus only 71% at companies with a program that is not tied to core values. But engagement at companies with no formal recognition program is the same – 71%. This speaks to the powerful emotional connection a values-based program creates between an employee’s work and the mission of the organization.

Another important element that amplifies the potency of recognition is ensuring everyone has the opportunity to give recognition. As you can see in the data below, peer-to-peer recognition – as opposed to hierarchical, top-down recognition – is much more likely to correlate with a positive employee experience.

The final data point about recognition that’s worth highlighting is around the emotional impact generated by a recognition moment. How long does the positive feeling last? And does it differ between receiving a recognition award or an annual bonus? Findings from the survey suggest the impact is virtually the same. For both recognition and annual bonuses, more than a third (38%) of workers say the positive feeling lasts about a week.

This should give HR and comp & ben folks pause. After all, many companies are deeply entrenched in the year-end bonus/performance review process. Companies dedicate a massive percentage of payroll to bonuses that do little to recommit employees to their job. With turnover at an all-time high, consider the impact of redistributing some bonus budget in the form of more frequent recognition throughout the year. For example, instead of receiving a one-time annual bonus of $5,000, an employee could receive 100 recognition awards at the time of achievement, each in $50 increments.

Even if your company isn’t ready for that level of investment, it’s worth considering the value of a recognition program that reminds employees how appreciated they are throughout the year – and especially during those moments when they’re most tempted and most likely to start looking for a new job.

About the Author

Sarah Mulcahy

Sarah is senior content marketing manager at Workhuman. When not writing and reading about all things culture, leadership, recognition, and appreciation, she enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with her daughters, Mabel and Eva.

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