Employee engagement

Employees All Over The World Don’t Get Enough Praise

Jacob Shriar
March 1, 2017
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72 percent of employees across the world get praise less than once per week.

This is just one of the shocking statistics from our recent employee engagement research report that measures engagement metrics across the world.

For our research, we analyzed 1,200,000 survey answers from tens of thousands of employees in over 150 countries.

We measured ten different metrics of engagement, and in the recognition metric, we found some pretty shocking statistics, like:

  • 65 percent of employees feel like they don’t get enough praise.
  • 72 percent of employees get praise less than once per week.
  • 82 percent of employees think it's better to give someone praise than a gift.

Let’s go through each of these quickly, because I think they shed some important light on some of the biggest things managers get wrong when it comes to recognition.

Employees don’t get enough praise

Our research showed that most employees (72 percent) don’t get enough praise, and even worse, many (65 percent) report feeling like they don’t get enough praise.

Employees are feeling undervalued. This is a huge issue, but it’s so easy to solve. So why aren’t more managers doing it? This always confuses me.

Why wouldn’t managers take more advantage of this? Recognition is by far the easiest way to engage your team. It’s so simple, costs nothing, and is so effective. It’s also one of the only things that employees expect and get very upset when they don’t get it.

They know they deserve it.

That’s one of the biggest unspoken secrets in the workplace. Employees know when they deserve it, if you’re genuine about it, and are keeping score about what you notice.

Even with all of that though, it’s still incredibly simple to do. There’s no real reason why you shouldn’t do it, the trick is to just be more mindful.

Don’t confuse rewards and recognition

This is one of the biggest mistakes that managers make when it comes to recognition.

Every manager needs to understand that recognition is the acknowledgement of a job well done. Often, managers will make things more complicated than they need to be, and possibly get overwhelmed by what’s involved in setting up an entire rewards program.

It doesn’t need to be that intense.

Don’t get me wrong, rewards are good. But they should be used in addition to verbal recognition. What I’d recommend is ideally use both praise and a tangible reward, but make sure when you use the tangible reward it’s worth it, and that the employee will value it.

Recognition saves you money

According to this study by Bersin & Associates, “Companies that provide ample employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that don’t.”

Also, according to the book How Full Is Your Bucket, the number one reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

Turnover is incredibly expensive, both financially and emotionally.

The amount of time it takes to fill a role when someone leaves is incredible. Plus, all the money it costs.

Think about it for a second:

  • Creating and posting job descriptions
  • Conducting interviews
  • Onboarding a new employee
  • Time/productivity lost from other employees during onboarding

A simple way to fix the turnover issue is to recognize your employees more.

Show your team the respect they deserve. Besides being good for them, it’s clearly good for you too.

Rewarded behaviors are repeated

This is the secret to recognition that most managers don’t understand.

Giving employees recognition for their work will actually get them to do more and better work. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say that I really want to impress my boss and I decide to write an article that is way above and beyond anything I’ve ever done before. More words, more images, more thorough research, etc.

I do the blog post, and my boss notices, and gives me timely, specific recognition for work, saying something along the lines of “wow, Jake, this is incredible. I can't believe how much research and effort went into this. Plus, the images you added were simply beautiful."

The chances of me doing another blog post with that much effort and high-quality images are very high. Because I got that reward (and rush of dopamine), I want to do it again.

Tips for better recognition

Here are a few simple tips you can use to give better recognition to your team.

1. Get their input

Genuinely asking someone for their input is one of the most powerful ways to recognize someone.

It’s an incredible sign of respect when you show someone that you care enough to listen to their ideas and value their opinion enough to potentially use their ideas.

2. Give employees autonomy

Another sign of respect, giving employees the autonomy they deserve and letting them work on projects or even pick the projects they work on is a great way to show recognition.

You can even mention to the team that you recognize that they’re capable enough to do work on their own or something along those lines, as a way to clearly show that you’re giving them the recognition they deserve.

3. Praise publicly, criticize privately.

It’s nice to let someone know they did great work, but it’s even nicer if it can be done in front of their coworkers. It will make it that much more powerful. A simple idea for this is to have a public display (like a Slack channel) to make sure everyone can see it.

4. Use peer-to-peer recognition

Peer-to-peer praise is actually better, because employees value the opinion of their coworkers.

Your coworkers are with you on the day-to-day, so they understand your struggle much better, making their praise seem that much more genuine.

In fact, research has shown that peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7 percent more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.

We hope you found our friend Jacob's tips and insights useful. If you're ready to take the next step toward building stronger, more engaged, and recognition-rich organizational culture, check out our latest guide:

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