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Are employees getting the recognition that they feel they deserve?

Roly Walter, Founder, Appraisd

New employee research commissioned by performance management specialists, Appraisd, explores how employees feel about the recognition they receive at work. It uncovers experiences that vary wildly. While large numbers of employees are satisfied and receive regular praise, significant numbers get none at all and are feeling ignored.

The two, small words “thank you” take seconds to say but can have huge and lasting consequences. If an employee has gone above and beyond what is expected of them, having that effort recognised and appreciated makes it even more worthwhile. They will be far more likely to keep putting in the extra work and pushing themselves to do their very best. However, if this effort goes unnoticed, they can easily become demotivated and detached, settling for doing just what is required and no more.

The last eighteen months have been like no other in our history. Every employee, no matter who they work for or where they are based, has needed to adapt to new circumstances and adopt new working practices. Change is rarely smooth and many, especially working parents, have had enormous challenges to overcome. More than half of employees have said they are struggling to keep their workload within their normal working hours[1].

In these conditions, employee recognition becomes vital. Given so much has changed for employers and employees in a relatively short space of time, we wanted to explore the topic further. We wanted to find out how much recognition employees are currently getting and how satisfied they are with it. Our survey with 1,000 UK employees through Google Surveys highlighted some stark differences.

Employees are likely to receive lots of praise or none at all
The relationship an employee has with their direct manager is hugely important and will often dictate how they feel about their role and the organisation. It is said employees leave managers not companies. If any employee has a strong, healthy relationship with their manager, it enhances their experience and helps them form a positive mindset. If this relationship is poor, it can be disastrous, making their working lives miserable.

Regular and appropriate recognition is a key component needed to build that relationship. The results of our survey show that line managers seem to be either very switched on, focused on giving lots of praise or oblivious to the topic and failing to give much at all.

38% of employees said their line manager praised them for doing a good job at least once a week, with 20% saying they received recognition several times a week or more. While these employees were very happy and feel appreciated, unfortunately similar numbers are feeling ignored.

23% of employees said their managers rarely praised them, with 15% saying they received no recognition at all. This means that 38% of employees are not getting valuable reassurance and guidance from their line manager at a time when they may be working remotely, isolated from their colleagues. These employees are likely to be feeling deflated, demotivated and invisible, especially those that never receive any praise for their hard work.

40% of employees say they are rarely or never recognised when they deserve to be
There is nothing more depressing than completing a piece of work that you feel proud of and not receiving any thanks or praise for it. Unfortunately, that’s how a large part of the UK workforce is currently feeling.

In our survey, more than a quarter of employees (27%) said they feel they are only occasionally recognised when they have done a good job and 13% said that they are never recognised at all. This means four in 10 employees are feeling largely ignored and unappreciated just at the time employers need them to perform to their full potential to survive this difficult period. Only 19% of employees said they were always recognised when they felt they deserved to be and 23% said they receive the recognition they merit most of the time.

Every employee, no matter what their role or level of seniority, wants their hard work to be recognised. This is especially true at the moment when everyone has faced new challenges and stresses. Now, more than ever, being recognised for doing a good job is vital to help employees maintain focus, motivation and morale when there are so many other things for them to worry about.

While line managers have an important role to play, recognition can come from anywhere within an organisation. Receiving thanks for colleagues can be equally motivating. Senior managers too can step forward and lead by example, regularly calling out those who have performed well and encouraging everyone in the company to do the same, creating a culture that supports and enables regular recognition.

Now is the time for organisations to be fully focused on employee recognition. With the job market recovering strongly and vacancies returning to pre-pandemic levels, employees who feel they are not getting the recognition they deserve are likely to begin looking for new opportunities and employers who will appreciate their efforts. 50% of employees say they would leave a company if they were not thanked and recognised for their efforts[2], showing just how important being recognised is to employees. Taking a few minutes to say “thank you” or “good job” may be the difference between keeping talented employees and seeing them walk out the door.

I know from my own working life what a profound effect recognition has, particular on those starting out in their careers, who are looking for reassurance from their managers. A few well-chosen words of encouragement can make all the difference, showing you that you are on the right track. This is something every manager should be thinking about. It costs nothing and only takes a few minutes, but the benefits can be enormous and have a lasting impact. Recognition is a vital part of performance management, that organisations should make a higher priority. It reinforces exactly the values that employers are looking to instill in their employees and motivates them to not only achieve but surpass their objectives.

[1] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/lockdown-sees-employees-working-harder-than-normal/

[2] https://www.rewardgateway.com/thank-you-infographic-inside-world-global-employee-recognition)

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