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June 2017


Survey: Employee Recognition Widespread

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More than 50 percent of employers view their employee recognition programs as an investment in their workforce, according to a survey released by WorldatWork. The survey, "Trends in Employee Recognition," was designed to measure specific types of recognition programs and their impact on the workforce and was underwritten by ITA Group. This is the ninth iteration of this survey since its inception in 2001.

Recognition is defined as a spontaneous gesture of thanks or a structured or planned program of recognition implemented to acknowledge employees and achieve desired performance. Some 89 percent of companies offer recognition programs, a percentage that is largely unchanged from past WorldatWork surveys on the topic. Lack of support from senior management (28 percent) and the cost (26 percent) are the most common reasons given for not having a recognition program.

The top recognition programs are based on length of service (85 percent), above-and-beyond performance (77 percent) and motivating specific behavior (51 percent). These were also the top programs in the 2015 version of the survey.

"Employers are putting more thought into their recognition programs," said Rose Stanley, CCP, CBP, WLCP, CEBS, senior practice leader at WorldatWork. "Interestingly, the survey also shows that the level of support of senior management is declining, while the programs are increasingly being viewed as an investment. This may be reflected in the increasing importance of programs that motivate specific behavior. Management wants to see programs that drive results."

"The results of this year's survey emphasize a critical shift toward offering a more

customized approach to recognition," said Christina Zurek, solution manager at ITA Group. "Today's workforce is more complex than ever before, which means motivating employees in personally meaningful ways is also increasingly difficult. Companies are providing variety in the way their teams earn recognition and communicate achievements, as well as the types of rewards that are offered. This signals they are embracing change and making strides toward recognizing team members on their own terms."

Other notable survey results include:

  • 65 percent of organizations offer between three and six programs, with an average of 4.5.
  • 55 percent have written guidelines for their recognition programs, and 95 percent of those programs align with organizational strategy.
  • 72 percent of organizations have a budget for their recognition programs, and these budgets are typically a mixture of centralized for the entire organization and held in individual departments.
  • 87 percent of organizations offer formal trainings for management on recognition programs. 69 percent are offered in person, and 51 percent are provided online.