CHELMSFORD, Mass., March 4, 2015 – Many organisations feel that providing a competitive salary, good benefits and professional development opportunities is considered to be enough. However, two simple words – “Thank you” – could be the difference between a happy employee and one with a foot already out the door.
In advance of the 20th anniversary of Employee Appreciation Day on March 6, The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated commissioned an online survey of more than 850 U.S. employees. This survey was conducted in February 2015 by Harris Poll and its aim was to explore the roots of day-to-day happiness in the workplace. The findings are outlined below but the results show that the power of thank you and positive recognition score high with employees, while co-workers can also play an important role in how people feel in the workplace.
Employee feelings of appreciation in line with engagement research
More than half of employees say that they feel either “very appreciated” or “mostly appreciated” in the workplace, which is very good news for organisations. On the other hand, employment engagement statistics can be attributed to the reason why other employees don’t really feel appreciated. These statistics include:
- In a survey conducted by Gallup, 51 percent of U.S. employees stated that they are “not engaged” in their current job. This fact can be compared with the 47 percent of workers in the Kronos study who either don’t feel appreciated or feel they are only half appreciated at work.
- In comparison to the 15% of employees who feel “not that appreciated” or “not at all appreciated”, the Gallup study highlighted that 17.5% of workers are “actively disengaged”.
A grass-is-greener correlation with feeling underappreciated
The results of the survey showed that the number of people thinking about switching jobs is high, as over 60% of employees thought about looking for a new job in the past year. Not only this, but 26% have also thought about searching for a new job in the past week.
- Of those who thought about looking for a job in the past year, 59% either don’t feel appreciated or feel somewhat appreciated in their current place of employment. This is in comparison to the 11% who feel very appreciated.
- When it comes to showing appreciation for their employees, 44% of those surveyed say their company is “average” compared to other organisations. In addition to this, 20% say their company is “one of the worst / worse than most.”
Pay raises don’t always boost appreciation. If they do, they’re quickly forgotten
Although salary increases, promotions and bonuses usually win out in employee motivation surveys, roughly a quarter (24%) of those who have received a pay increase said that it did not improve their motivation or general feelings of appreciation at work.
Day-to-day acts of gratitude and appreciation in the workplace are much more important than pay rises for the following reasons:
- 40% of those surveyed said that a pay rise improved their motivation or general feelings of appreciation for only six months or less
- 30% said that rises boost these same feelings for a mere month or less
The power of “Thank You” can’t be underestimated
Many organisations turn to unique perks, pay rises and benefits to help keep employees happy but creating a culture of gratitude may be just as impactful.
- When participants were asked what gives them a high sense of satisfaction and achievement in work, 55% responded that receiving a “Thank you” from their direct manager gave them a sense of satisfaction. This is nearly double than that of public recognition of a job well done.
- 70% of employees say that receiving positive feedback from fellow employees provides a boost and gives them the highest sense of satisfaction.
- Employees prefer receiving private, one-on-one communication rather than receiving recognition in front of others or copied on a group email. Keeping in line with communication, 61% of employees prefer verbal recognition (either in private or in front of others), while only 24% prefer electronic communication, such as email, when receiving positive feedback.
- Not only do employees believe in the power of thank you for personal satisfaction, but managers too. A higher percentage of those with direct reports (78%) say positive feedback is important to their personal satisfaction compared to those without direct reports (70%).
Managers can’t do it alone: Co-worker appreciation matters more than you think
Organisations can spend time and money on programs to create the best managers, but co-workers have as much power to make fellow employees less appreciated.
- It is interesting to see that half of employed adults say that positive performance feedback from their direct manager provides satisfaction with the other half saying that it’s positive feedback from co-workers. However, only 39% of employees say that positive feedback from their leadership team/executives provides satisfaction.
- In terms of those who don’t feel appreciated or who feel somewhat appreciated, rude or mean-spirited communication from co-workers is just as detrimental to feeling appreciated as it is coming from their direct manager.
- 32% of employees say that relationships among co-workers are the number-one factor employees miss most about their previous job. This beats company profits (22%), unique perks (20%) and relationship with previous boss (16%).
What brings employees down?
Not being recognised for the work they do was the reason cited by nearly half of those who feel not at all or somewhat appreciated.
In fact, not receiving recognition for work done is cited nearly twice as much as receiving criticism (26%) and heavy workload (25%). It’s also nearly worse than a poor work-life balance (23%) and someone else taking credit for work they did (22%).
What would employees change if they traded places with their boss for a day?
Although more than half of employees feel at least mostly appreciated at work, more than three-quarters feel their direct boss/manager could do better. When asked what they would do, in terms of showing appreciation and recognition, if they traded place with their boss, 38% – the highest percentage – said they would simply say “Thank you” more.