Retaining Employees: Research Shows It’s All About Recognition Done Right

© Andrew Adams -
© Andrew Adams -

This seems to be research reporting week for me. Following on the heels of SHRM/Globoforce research on the bottom-line ROI of employee recognition, is this research from Office Team: Recognize Results: Drive Success through Employee Recognition.”

Surveying office administrative personnel, the survey revealed:

  • 66 percent would leave their current position if not shown appreciation by their manager.
  • 67 percent say receiving recognition greatly or somewhat improves their performance.

Highest rated awards did not involve money

That last point mirrors a client of ours whose internal employee surveys show 93 percent of employees saying receiving formal recognition helps motivate them to sustain high performance.

I’m not surprised by (but pleased to see) survey respondents strongly saying the praise itself is the most meaningful element – being noticed for their work with specific, meaningful and personal messages of thanks and appreciation. As the report noted:

Many of the rewards administrative professionals rated highest did not involve money. Cash, for example, was far down the list. Most forms of recognition ranked highly by administrative professionals are cost-effective. Top responses included an in-person thank-you or communicating an administrator’s achievements to upper management. One professional’s comment may best sum up the power of praise: ‘Simple recognition on a frequent basis keeps me going far more than anything else.’”

Recognizing employees? You MUST do it right

But whatever you do, if you’re going to make the effort to recognize employees, be sure you do it right.

A member of my consulting team keeps a “tombstone” award on her desk from a prior company. Though she received the “President’s Award,” her name is spelled wrong in the engraving. Any personal meaning or value in the award was instantly lost.

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This video from Office Team drives the point home:

Are you truly investing all you can in retaining employees, helping them achieve peak productivity and sustain it over time, and engaging them in the culture of your organization? Without a strategic employee recognition program in place, you’re likely not.

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


3 Comments on “Retaining Employees: Research Shows It’s All About Recognition Done Right

  1. Very important topic. If you don’t know why your employees are leaving, you are mot a wrll run business. Check out Gallup’s “First: Break All The Rules” for some additional pointers, including the definitive 12 attributes of employee engagement.

  2. So true, Derek. Not all employees prefer to be recognized in the sames ways. A one size fits all recognition strategy is not the way to go. To recognize to retain and engage leaders need to have a relationship with employees, understand their employees wants and needs, and provide what they can per appreciation. 

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