Employees Think Workplace Gestures Are Empty

That’s why annual Christmas parties to toast the year’s accomplishments and splash the company’s branded products have become a regular feature in many workplaces.

Companies may even have a little something up their sleeve for Employee Appreciation Day today.

But it turns out that companies are wasting both their time and their money, because many workers see these gestures as meaningless.

The HR specialist OC Tanner surveyed more than 36,000 employees and executives in 20 countries, including the UK, US and China for its World Culture Report— and it revealed that 43% of employees globally think the recognition they receive at work feels like an empty gesture and doesn’t make sense.

Additionally, more than a third said they were recognized in an uncomfortable way.

Yet research also shows that when employees feel recognized and valued, their sense of belonging increases, as does their likelihood of wanting to stay with the company for another year.

“Most global leaders realize the importance of appreciating their employees,” says Robert Ordever, European Managing Director of OC Tanner, but “acknowledging staff in an impersonal and inauthentic way can have the opposite effect of what was expected, causing employees to feel invisible and depressed.

Recognize staff from the start

Employee appreciation is most effective when delivered in a timely, personal and meaningful way.

With less than half of employees surveyed reporting an onboarding experience that was more than just an orientation day and benefits package, the report recommends employers show recognition of their talent from the very first moment. day.

“Instead of handing out a water bottle or t-shirt and browsing through company history, consider creating an integrated and curated recognition experience for new hires,” the report adds.

It might look like a “welcome to the company” card signed by peers followed by an all-fresh team lunch with plenty of time reserved for socializing.

More importantly, recognition cannot be a one-time box-ticking exercise; The report emphasizes that employee appreciation must be embedded in a company’s culture.

Integrate appreciation into the corporate culture

“The holy grail of recognition is to embed it into the everyday culture of the workplace so that the natural response to someone going ‘over the top’ is to acknowledge it,” insists Ordever. “Organizations with highly integrated recognition consistently show great work. They also enjoy high levels of engagement, low attrition, and 80% fewer instances of burnout.

Research also reveals that built-in recognition increases the odds of a positive employee experience and a thriving company culture by 391% and 646%, respectively.

Leaders can sing the praises of their staff for their daily efforts and major accomplishments by including verbal recognition as part of weekly meetings, hosting a celebratory party that highlights workers’ accomplishments that year, and spending gift cards for career milestones.

“For recognition to appear genuine and meaningful, it cannot be an afterthought, but must be given with intention, with the giver of recognition highlighting the individual’s accomplishments. Appreciating publicly in front of leaders and peers also elevates the moment, making it truly memorable,” adds Ordever.

In the long run, the more an organization empowers its employees to recognize themselves, the more frequently recognition will occur. And the more frequently it happens, the more it becomes an integral and natural part of the employee experience.

Don’t forget the management

While employee appreciation tools and events are often geared towards new hires and young talent, the report highlights that even executives need to feel recognized.

Specifically, mid-level and entry-level leaders are 33% and 47% less likely to feel appreciated, respectively, compared to senior leaders. They also don’t have as much access to resources and support as senior leaders.

This means that those stepping into leadership for the first time can easily be consumed by the weight of responsibility of their new role.

“Leaders are also employees. They need to feel valued, appreciated and supported like everyone else,” the report adds, while noting that appreciation reduces executive anxiety by 67% and stress by 52%.

Finally, throwing money at the problem will not be enough; the report warns companies that increasing pay does not prevent or decrease manager burnout in the same way that genuine recognition can.

Instead, he recommends senior leaders spontaneously praise managers and deliberately thank them more often.

“While compensation and incentives often create competition among leaders, appreciation connects and strengthens the relationships leaders have with their teams, their own leaders, and the organization,” the report adds.

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