Gallup’s “Transforming Workplaces Through Recognition” report

Gallup and Workhuman recently paired up to look in detail at how recognition really affects our workplace engagement levels, employee retention and organisational culture.

By: James Blair on

Together, they have produced the “Transforming Workplaces Through Recognition” report, which you can download here. They have used data from thousands of employees from across Western Europe and the United States to inspect what good recognition looks alike and what impact it has.

It’s a fascinating read, but if you’re short on time, here are a few of the headline stats to give you some food for thought. Tuck in. And bon appétit.

First up is the undeniable proof, as if it was needed, that recognition matters.

When recognition hits the mark, employees are:

  • 56% less likely to be looking for other job opportunities
  • 73% less likely to “always” or “very often” feel burned out
  • 44% more likely to be “thriving” in their life overall
  • 5x as likely to feel connected to their organisation’s culture
  • 5x as likely to see a path for growth within their organisation
  • 4x as likely to be engaged
  • 4x as likely to recommend their organisation as an employer

But it isn’t happening.

Despite these stats, many organisations are seemingly missing out on this fundamental culture by doing very little or nothing at all.

  • 81% of leaders say recognition is not a major strategic priority for their organisation
  • 73% of senior leaders say their organisation does not offer leaders training for employee recognition
  • Almost 2/3 of leaders say their organisation has no budget for recognition
  • 36% of employees say their organisation has a recognition platform
  • 22% of employees say their organisation uses digital recognition software

Employees who receive recognition only a few times a year from a manager, supervisor or leader are:

  • 5x as likely to be actively disengaged
  • 74% more likely to say they plan to move to a new employer within a year
  • 27% more likely to be struggling

Employees who receive recognition only a few times a year from their peers are:

  • 3x as likely to be actively disengaged
  • 39% more likely to say they plan to move to a new employer within a year
  • 24% more likely to be struggling

This shows that peer-to-peer recognition really can make a difference. With the right platform, this can pretty much run itself and reap huge benefits for engagement, wellbeing, and loyalty. It can also provide a host of insightful data to help leaders celebrate the recognitions shared and understand the kinds of acts, gestures and support that are being shared and appreciated across their teams.

How to do it right.

According to the report, there are five pillars for making recognition properly meaningful. Recognition has the most impact when it is:

  • Fulfilling – recognition should meet employees’ needs and expectations. Yet only 23% strongly agree that they get the recognition they need.
  • Authentic – recognition should mean something to both the giver and recipient. However, only 1/3 agree that they receive authentic recognition.
  • Equitable – employees should be recognised in a consistent and equitable manner. But only 1/4 agree that recognition is given equitably at their organisation.
  • Embedded in the culture – recognition should be weaved into employees’ everyday life. Less than 20% strongly agree that recognition is an important part of their organisation’s culture.
  • Personalised – employees are all unique and have different preferences on how or where they receive recognition. Only 10% said that they were asked about their preferences for receiving recognition.

The report concludes by suggesting these five steps for leaders:

  1. Make recognition accessible. The easier it is for everyone to give recognition, the more they will do it.
  2. Make recognition part of the culture. Make recognition a ritual and a daily habit. Set designated times and events to make it special.
  3. Train managers on how to give recognition well. You may need to educate your leaders on the impacts of recognition and the options for providing it. Make it a part of their responsibilities, give them specific actions.
  4. Model the behaviour. Leaders should lead by example. Senior leaders should recognise managers and leaders too, as these are often overlooked in the recognition stakes. Our advice is to send recognition right down the chain, starting from the very top and missing out no tier.
  5. Prioritise recognition. Give recognition the strategy and attention it warrants. Assign time, energy, resource, and budget to get it right.

In the light of this data, it really does seem like a no-brainer. Regardless of the size of your organisation, recognition, and appreciation matter. A lot. To everyone.

It’s really not expensive to install a recognition platform to get you started. The cost of not doing so, however, could be huge.