Workers, managers differ on effectiveness of employee recognition

A new survey shows a schism between managers and workers when it comes to employee recognition.

Very few managers, 11%, think their company does a poor job recognising employees for good performance. But 30% of workers give poor marks to their company’s recognition methods, according to a survey of North American companies by staffing firm OfficeTeam.

Eighty-nine per cent of managers thought their organisation was effective or very effective at showing appreciation to workers. But the ones in line to receive the praise weren’t as positive: 70% said recognition was effective or very effective.

While the occasional pat on the back or “good job” might seem inconsequential, a lack of praise can lead to a lack of loyalty, which increases the likelihood that an employee leaves for another job, other research indicates. A survey by the American Management Association showed one key impact of dwindling employee loyalty was high turnover. And a survey of UK workers showed that 25% of those planning to pursue other work this year are doing so because they feel underappreciated.

That overlooked pat on the back can turn into an expensive mistake for companies. That’s why it’s important for management not to forget to offer praise when it’s deserved.

“Giving kudos for a job well done seems obvious, but when managers are time-strapped, this can be one of the first things that slips,” Robert Hosking, executive director at OfficeTeam, said in a news release.

OfficeTeam offers five tips for managers to do a better job recognising staff:

  1. Say thanks. Regular, spoken acknowledgement of a job well done is recommended. Also, tell employees how their work will help the company or its customers.
  2. Deliver a hand-written note or send an email that is also shared with senior executives that praises a worker’s efforts.
  3. Make praise public, either in a company newsletter or through recognition at a staff meeting.
  4. Support continuing education. Another common complaint amongst employees is a lack of development opportunities. Offering tuition assistance can help workers grow professionally and remain loyal.
  5. Give small gifts to employees whose work exceeds expectations.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Report: Investment in Talent Leads to Faster Revenue, Profit Growth”: Organisations with strong leadership and talent management practices can increase revenue 2.2 times faster than those with weak talent development, according to a global report.

‘Softer’ Issues of Culture, Engagement Becoming Harder for Companies to Master”: A global survey by Deloitte shows that employee engagement is a rising concern and that organisations seem to be falling behind as they try to re-imagine ways to manage and develop their workforce.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.