Mood of the Workforce: Overwhelmingly, They Want to be Recognized

Recognition is essential for HR professionals -- especially younger ones. (Photo by

Last week I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Thad Peterson the results of the Globoforce Spring 2012 Mood Tracker survey (which tracks the perceptions of full-time, currently employed U.S. workers).

Now available on demand, the webinar revealed quite a few interesting results and I shared my thoughts around the trends we’re seeing over time with these surveys.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

Recognition is a universal desire

  • 86 percent of all respondents want to have their efforts/contributions at work recognized.
  • 46 percent are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing a good job.
  • These results are quite similar across all generations in the workplace. And guess what? It’s not GenY who is the most dissatisfied with recognition – it’s GenX (respondents aged 36-45).

This last point deserves to be more deeply examined. I’m not surprised by these generational results. Recognition is something we all need.

As I often say, the only qualifier for needing recognition in the workplace is being a member of the human race. As my colleague, Thad, commented, “So all of the companies out there that are hiring humans, this applies.”

Frequent recognition is key

  • 41 percent of all respondents to the survey have not been recognized in the last six months.
  • 90 percent of people recognized within the last month feel their manager effectively acknowledges and appreciates them at work.
  • 20 percent of people recognized only in the last two years agreed their manager effectively appreciates them.

This proves that so many employees function in a recognition desert in their workplaces. Frequency of recognition is a very important topic because the frequency with which you reach out to and engage employees is critical to a successful recognition program.

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When people tell me their “good” recognition program only recognizes 20 percent of employees once or twice a year, I have to inform them that, in fact, they have merely a superficial program where you really need to be a superhero to get recognized. This type of program isn’t going to move any critical business metrics or have any real impact on engagement or performance.

This is also a fundamental question on engagement surveys – that your manager understands and appreciates what you do at work. Increasing positive responses to this question will increase your overall engagement results.

Other highlights

  • 78 percent say would work harder if efforts were better recognized and appreciated.
  • 3 out of 4 employees who are satisfied with the recognition they receive love their jobs.
  • 2 out of 3 employees who are not satisfied with recognition received don’t love their jobs.
  • 81 percent say receiving recognition makes them more satisfied with their work and position.
  • A full third of respondents plan to search for a new job in 2012, which means 33 percent of your workforce isn’t fully focused on the task at hand. Yet, out of employees who feel appreciated, 80 percent have no desire to leave.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog..

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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