United Kingdom

Employees would be more productive if bosses recognised efforts

April 2018

Employees who don’t feel valued and appreciated for their efforts will display lower productivity levels, according to new research.

The O.C. Tanner Institute, a research firm that monitors employee engagement, has found that employers are at risk of demotivating staff by not recognising their efforts. This leads to underperformance and a lack of engagement.

Around 61% of staff feel unappreciated while 68% of top talent within a company were also left feeling neglected.

The study, which coincided with Employee Appreciation Day, which this year fell on March 2nd, surveyed 10,000 respondents across 12 countries. Of those, 1,102 were from the UK, spanning a range of jobs, industries and socio-economic backgrounds. All respondents were from companies with more than 500 employees.

In an interview with Real Business, managing director Robert Ordever of O.C. Tanner Europe said: “The repercussions of this are significant, resulting in, amongst other things, high staff turnover, poor levels of engagement and underperformance.”

Ordever said: “Staff appreciation needs to become an integral part of an organisation’s culture in order for it to make an impact. It needs to be frequent, timely, meaningful and sincere and encouraged on a daily basis.

“Leaders who ignore the importance of effective staff recognition will have workforces with low morale and who feel little connection to their places of work. Such organisations will struggle to hold onto talent, be lacking innovation and will likely have productivity issues.”

Jerry Edmondson, strategic communications and engagement proposition leader at Aon Employee Benefits said that it was “human nature” to want to feel recognised and appreciated, but warned that many organisations often confused recognition with reward.

“Improving engagement doesn’t have to involve increasing individual or collective reward levels – but it does involve understanding that employees are also real people.”

He suggested that recognition schemes including experience days can be more effective than a monetary reward of equal value.

“For employees, often the effort of having to come up with an idea of turning a monetary reward into something memorable is just too great – so a cash reward can end up being swallowed up in the family shopping trip and then simply not remembered at all – which is presumably not an ideal outcome from the employer’s perspective in terms of incentivising optimal behaviours.

“But turning, say, a £100 reward for an employee’s extra effort into a family ticket to a theme park means that the reward is the experience of a fun day out with the family and all the memories that go with that.

Alternatively, personally handwritten letters to employees outlining their achievements can also be very powerful gestures.

“They demonstrate the time and effort taken by someone simply to say thank you,” he suggested, adding “and this feels very different to, say, receiving an automatically produced, digitally printed postcard through the mail.”

Edmondson concluded: “Fundamentally, recognition is about making someone feel good about something they did (and which is aligned with a business’ objectives). The key word here is feel – because it’s often how we feel that drives our ‘discretionary effort’ – that part of our working day where we could either ‘go the extra mile’ or ‘go under the radar’.”

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