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Workplace audit highlights clear gender divide

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National audit of over 30,000 staff signals that women and men are not recognised in the same way.

P&MM, has released findings of a nationwide audit looking into how staff are recognised within the workplace. The findings show that women and men are not recognised in the same way and that recognition schemes may now be due for a review. The audit of 30,857 employees across Insurance, financial services and manufacturing sectors, highlights that 63 percent of the UK’s workforce were recognised at least once in the past 12 months when a formal scheme is in place. This recognition typically fell into one of three categories:  a non-monetary ‘thank you’ (30 percent of staff received this type of recognition); a low level monetary award (58 percent); and a high level monetary award (12 percent).  Furthermore, 72 percent of women were formally recognised for good work compared to 57 percent of men.

The data also implies that there was a ‘pay gap’ in the recognition schemes with more men being recognised with monetary awards rather than a thank you gesture. And this is echoed in the way in which men are more likely to offer a high value monetary award to their team (64 percent of all these awards are made by men) compared to 35 percent from women.

Despite a non-monetary ‘thank you’ representing just a third (30 percent) of all recognition schemes in the audit, women received 53 percent and sent 60 percent of them.

Adrian Duncan, Motivation Director at P&MM, comments, “Recognition continues to be a key tool in driving motivation and performance.  The audit highlights that there is an element of bias in the way in which men and women are recognised at work – and that the process of recognising staff may be more emotional rather than subjective. Traditionally, reward and recognition schemes are managed by HR departments but there is evidence that other parts of an organisation – such as sales and marketing – may also benefit from being more heavily involved in the scheme. The data highlights some important trends and it should encourage organisations to review how their recognition schemes are designed and operated.”

A summary of key findings include:

Many companies are recognising great work within their workplace – however almost 4 out of 10 staff are not getting any recognition. This opens up the possibility of poor performance and high staff churn: 63 percent of staff were recognised at least once and received 33,360 items of recognition. Staff that have been recognised themselves for good work are twice more (2.29 times) likely to recognise colleagues: 28.9 percent of staff sent recognition, sending 29,388 items of recognition.


Companies tend to operate three levels of recognition:

A non-monetary thank you (30 percent)

A low level monetary award (58 percent)

A high level monetary award (12 percent)


More women than men are recognised for good work – but when recognised, men are offered monetary rewards: 64 percent of high value rewards are sent by men and 35 percent by women.  74.92 percent of all recognition received by men has a monetary value, compared to 64 percent of women. Non-monetary ‘thank yous’ tend to be directed at women: Despite a non-monetary thank you only representing 30 percent of all recognition, women received 53 percent and sent 60 percent of them. 

Duncan adds, “Although the audit is only a snapshot of three industry sectors, the data raises some interesting questions. Is there a bias or prejudice in the way in which our workforce is recognised? Can reward and recognition schemes be better designed so that they engage both genders better, and can empirical data help to close the gap?  What is evident from the data is that gender has an influence on recognition schemes. In order to maximise and improve organisational performance – and to retain staff – it is important for organisations to review their recognition schemes and to better understand the drivers of individual behaviours. By taking a more empirical rather than emotional approach organisations can deploy a more scalable and inclusive approach to recognition and therefore engaging staff.”

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