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Praise, likable co-workers and fun office are among top reasons employees stay
Seventy-one percent of respondents said “meaningful recognition” has no dollar value for them, according to the online survey of 1,200 workers in the services, health care and technology industries that was conducted in April and May 2013 by two California-based companies: Make Their Day, an employee-motivation firm, and Badgeville, an employee engagement consultancy.
The percentage of workers who value noncash incentives is on the rise: A 2007 survey by the two companies found that 57 percent of respondents said meaningful recognition had no dollar value.
“The value of nontangible recognition is clearly identified in our findings,” said Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works (Berrett-Koehler, 2009). “Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for nontangible recognition. With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective.”
Gamification is the use of game mechanics to motivate workers and solve problems. One approach is to make work tasks feel more like games, perhaps by giving employees rewards (e.g., points, virtual “currency” or elevation to “higher levels”) for finishing tasks. The rewards can be visible to other workers and create a sense of friendly competition.
The results of the survey, Recognition Preferences in Today’s Work Environment, are in line with a 2009 report released by McKinsey & Company, which revealed that workers considered praise, attention from leaders and opportunities to lead projects more motivating than performance-based cash rewards, an increase in base pay or stock options. The McKinsey report noted that while companies around the world are cutting back on financial-incentive programs, few have used other ways to inspire talent; it recommended that businesses consider nonfinancial incentives.
“The results of the [Make Their Day/Badgeville] study align to … numerous reports over the last few years on the changing face of what motivates employees today,” said Badgeville CEO Ken Comee. “Workers of all ages, especially the rising Millennial population, are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”
Other survey findings:
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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