94% consider employee recognition to be key in retaining talent

The highly competitive landscape has forced companies to regard recognition as a vital part of employee retention. Money, treats such as gift card or voucher or simply public acknowledgment is sometimes more efficient in keeping workers happy and engaged. So does this mean that employee recognition is critical to retain talent? 

In the past, the most common form of recognition would be given privately during performance reviews, however, Millennials have shaken up the way companies reward their employees. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have traditionally struggled more to find and retain talent against larger corporations. We conducted a survey amongst SME employees to understand how they feel about recognition and how can it impacts their engagement with the company.

Highlights of the study:

  • 78% of respondents said they would work harder if they had more recognition 
  • 56% don’t think they get enough recognition from their companies 
  • 50% believed that employee recognition is a priority in their company 
  • 34% have at least received a verbal thank you for a job well done at work as recognition
  • When received recognition, the two ways more used are one-on-one with a manager (36%) and informally within teams (29%)

Recognition, a strong motivator for Millennials

78% of respondents said that employee recognition is a strong motivator for them, with another 22% stating it doesn’t make a difference for them. Out of those that responded yes, 41% were aged between 25-34. 36% of those who responded no were aged 35-44.

According to a report from Robert Walters, 32% of Millennials considered recognition of individual achievements at work keeps them engaged.

In addition, half of British respondents in our survey stated that recognition is a priority in their company. 78% mentioned they would work harder if they had more recognition at work, and out of those, 41% are aged between 25-34.

This could mean that older generations are not so worried about getting recognition at work in order to motivate themselves to work harder, whilst younger ones seem to have a ‘need for this in order to keep motivated at work. 

This is not surprising if we think that, Millennials are going to make up most of the workforce in 5 years, so companies should start implementing strong recognition practices now.

The type of recognition matters

When asked about the type of recognition that employees have received at work, a third (34%) stated a verbal thank you for a job well done. The two most common ones following this are treats given to staff (15%) in the form of vouchers and gift cards and monetary ones (13%) such as bonuses.

Nevertheless, over half of respondents (57%) don’t think they get enough recognition from the company, with 16% being recognised once a month and a further 10% once a week. When asked what type of recognition they would like to get, the three most popular ones are a verbal thank you (22%), treats (18%) such as vouchers and gift cards and monetary (16%) as bonuses. A personal note (11%) and a handshake (11%) are also mentioned by respondents as preferred ones.

When asked about how would they like to receive recognition over a third (36%) prefer it to be done in a one-on-one with their manager, whilst 29% of them don’t mind it being done informally within teams. When looking at the way recognition is communicated to the team, a third prefer it to be done in private (33%). 

If you want to keep your employees, it’s critical you recognise them: A staggering 94% said that employee recognition is key in retaining talent . The results also reveal that employees are more interested in personal recognition than monetary ones such as treats and bonuses.

We wanted to know what software are companies using to provide recognition. Respondents cited Slack, Microsoft Office or Sage 200cloud as some of the ones that companies are using to recognise employees either in a written or a verbal way, however, 82% of companies are not using specific software for this at present.

Employee recognition software is linked to HR software and Talent management software, and can help collaboration, as well as promoting peer-to-peer recognition, increasing the satisfaction of employees as well as their engagement and motivation in the company. A win-win situation for all. 

Methodology of the study

To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey. The answers come from a sample of the target market UK.  Over 300 participants qualified to participate in the survey through screening questions out in December 2019. Qualified participants are employed (full-time, part-time or self-employed) and work in a small to medium sized enterprise (1-250 employees).