Things That Make You Go Hmm – Recognition Style
The American Psychological Association once again conducted a national public opinion poll just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. The press release and survey report both provide a variety of insightful results. For me, though, there are a few really important takeaways to which I wanted to call attention.
First, less than half of respondents indicated that their employer recognizes individual job performance. In fact, only 46 percent indicated this was the case, while only 29 percent indicated their organization recognizes team or work unit performance and only 21 percent indicated their organization recognizes its own performance. That means more than half of workers are expected to perform well strictly due to intrinsic motivation, rather than because someone – anyone – is going to formally recognize that performance. That is a troubling statistic, especially given that only 51 percent of respondents even reported feeling valued by their employer, and only 39 percent reported that their organization recognizes employees with salary increases. It’s no wonder there are some concerns about employee work engagement.
Second, we hear lots of talk about verbal or written appreciation as a low-cost form of recognition, and according to the APA survey results, approximately 28 percent of workers value that form of appreciation. However, substantially more workers value monetary forms of recognition, including salary increases (62 percent), fair monetary compensation (47 percent) and performance-based bonuses (43 percent). Hence, money may not be everything, but according to the results of this poll, money is valued by substantially more workers than are other forms of recognition.
Finally, in my view, the most profound results concerned recognition outcomes. Though we hear a lot about the importance of the supervisor in providing recognition, the results of the poll suggest that it may not be the most important predictor of recognition outcomes.
Instead, when it comes to predicting overall satisfaction with recognition practices, the feeling of being valued by the employer and motivation to work harder because of recognition received, it turns out that the strongest driver was employee perceptions that their employer’s recognition practices were fair. When it comes to predicting employee motivation to do their best and overall job satisfaction, the poll results suggest that the strongest driver is the extent to which employees value the recognition they receive.
In addition, it turns out that when workers have been recognized more recently (such as within the past year), they tend to report more positive perceptions of their supervisor’s effectiveness at providing recognition, the perceived value of the recognition they receive and the fairness of the organization’s recognition practices.
So, what can organizations take away from these latest poll results regarding recognition? Well, since you asked:
- Employ recognition practices regularly. When less than half of workers even report the presence of a particular form of recognition, that indicates a lack of consistency in the use of various types and forms of recognition. However, you should also ensure that employees do not have to go a period of years before they are recognized.
- Provide recognition that employees value. While no organization has unlimited financial resources, it is clear that financial forms of recognition are important. Rather than spending tons of money on forms of recognition that employees do not value, survey your workers, find out what types of recognition they do value and find a way to implement recognition practices consistent with those preferences.
- Ensure recognition practices are implemented fairly. Look for ways to improve the transparency of your recognition practices.
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