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A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way Toward Employee Satisfaction

Want to keep employees satisfied in their jobs without spending a fortune? Why not give them a little credit? A new survey by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service, found that nearly half  (49 percent) of workers interviewed said they would be somewhat or very likely to leave their current position if they didn’t feel appreciated by their manager.

When asked what type of recognition they value most, 38 percent said they prefer tangible rewards such as financial compensation or gift cards, while 21 percent favored opportunities to learn and grow. Nearly one in five (19 percent) would rather receive verbal or written praise. Interestingly, one in five (20 percent) workers claim they don’t need acknowledgment for doing a good job.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 431 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment.

Workers were asked, “How likely is it that you would leave your current position if you did not feel appreciated by your manager?” Their responses:


Very likely   20% 
Somewhat likely   29% 
Not very likely   19%
Not likely at all   31%
Don’t know/no answer   2%
Total    101%*

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.


Workers were also asked, “What type of appreciation or recognition at work do you value the most?” Their responses:


Rewards (“Show me the money!”)   38%
Growth opportunities (“I’m up for a challenge!”)   21%
Praise, please! (“I like being told my work is excellent!”)   19%
No need for recognition (“I know I’m doing a good job!”)   20%
Don’t know/no answer   2%
Total    100%


When it comes to the amount of recognition employees receive, most workers gave their employers high marks: More than half (53 percent) believe they’re acknowledged a decent amount, and more than one-quarter (29 percent) feel they get plenty of kudos. Only 16 percent found recognition lacking.

The survey also revealed differences by age: Workers between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely than any other age group to leave their current position if they feel underappreciated (65 percent).

“Professionals want to know their contributions make a difference and will be rewarded, especially Gen Y workers,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Because individuals like to be acknowledged in different ways, managers should find out what their workers value most and customize recognition accordingly.”

Although people enjoy different types of appreciation, some tokens of gratitude universally miss the mark. Following are five of the most common recognition mistakes:

  1. Not getting facts straight. Nothing’s more embarrassing than incorrectly acknowledging a person’s name or individual accomplishment.
  2. Offering token gestures. The form of recognition should fit the degree of achievement. Giving someone a stapler for his or her five-year anniversary, for example, sends the message that the milestone is insignificant.
  3. Being vague. Telling employees they did a “good job” is a generic form of kudos. Tie acknowledgment back to specific actions so people know exactly what they did right.
  4. Going overboard. Recognition doesn’t need to be extravagant to be effective. Small everyday things, such as saying “thank you” or giving credit for good ideas can be powerful.
  5. Overlooking contributors. Although some workers naturally gravitate toward the limelight, don’t forget to also celebrate unsung heroes who help behind the scenes.
AUTHORFred Yager Insider Comment

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