Research shows over half of workers would prefer to be thanked by managers

A new study from Reward Gateway, an employee engagement company, has revealed the disconnect between what employees really want and what their employers think they want.

The research has revealed that over half of workers say that they would prefer to be thanked by their managers on a continuous, all-year round basis, rather than with a single annual event for recognition. Despite this, the majority of the global $46bn spend a year that companies spend on employee recognition is instead focused on rewarding tenure, through long service awards, for example.

The research from Reward Gateway, which surveyed 1,500 employees and 1,500 senior decision makers’ has found that almost half (49%) of workers in the UK, Australia and the US would leave a company if they weren’t regularly thanked and recognised for their efforts; a striking stat for businesses struggling to curb falling employee retention rates.

The disconnect between employers and employees is also apparent in the fact that over eight in 10 (82%) of senior decision makers say that they prioritise showing appreciation and thanks to employees who have done good work in a timely way, on a regular basis, yet over 60% of workers feel that their colleagues could be thanked and praised more regularly by managers and leaders when they do good work.

A whopping 85% of workers think managers and leaders should spot good work and give praise and thanks whenever it happens and the majority (81%) think this should happen on a continuous, all year-round basis.

However, in the study, managers were asked how much they were encouraged by their own line managers to show appreciation and thanks to employees in their teams and 13% said that they did not receive this encouragement. Further to this, just over half of managers have tech-based social recognition tools to say thank you and recognise good behaviour and fewer have access to tools that enable sharing of praise publicly between teams.

Glenn Elliott, founder and CEO of Reward Gateway, says: “This is another really strong data point that tells us what we’re doing with recognition is wrong. If companies want to improve employee engagement, motivation and retention they need to urgently divert investments  from tenure based, long service award programmes which aren’t working but are costing businesses a fortune. We’ve worked hard to make our SmartAwards product support what today’s employees want for recognition and deliver a much improved ROI for clients.”

Liz Crutchley, head of reward and benefits from HomeServe Membership, which uses Reward Gateway as part of its engagement strategy, says: “At HomeServe, we have a people-first culture, where empowerment and recognition form a huge part of the way we do things.

“We actively encourage our people to recognise each other based on our people values. One of the many ways we do this is by using the Reward Gateway online portal, which enables our people to send thank you e-cards to one another in a really simple and accessible way. To date, we’ve sent over 33,000 across our business.”