The key to keeping employees happy in their jobs is to recognize them for their hard work, a new study has found.
A survey by OfficeTeam revealed that nearly half of workers would likely leave their position if they didn't feel appreciated by their manager.
Feeling valued is even more important to younger employees. The research shows that Gen Y workers under age 35 were more likely than any other age group to leave their current position if they feel underappreciated.
How employees want to be recognized varies, however. Nearly 40 percent prefer tangible rewards such as financial compensation or gift cards, 21 percent are after opportunities to learn and grow, and 19 percent would prefer to receive verbal or written praise.
"Professionals want to know their contributions make a difference and will be rewarded, especially Gen Y workers," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Because individuals like to be acknowledged in different ways, managers should find out what their workers value most and customize recognition accordingly."
Not all employees are looking for a pat on the back, with one in five claiming they don't need any acknowledgment for doing a good job.
Although most employees enjoy different types of appreciation, some acts of gratitude miss the mark.
OfficeTeam offers five common recognition mistakes for employers to avoid.
- Not getting facts straight — Nothing is more embarrassing than incorrectly acknowledging a person's name or individual accomplishment.
- Offering token gestures — The form of recognition should fit the degree of achievement. Giving someone a stapler for his or her five-year anniversary, for example, sends the message that the milestone is insignificant.
- Being vague — Telling employees they did a "good job" is a generic form of kudos. Tie acknowledgment back to specific actions so people know exactly what they did right.
- Going overboard — Recognition doesn't need to be extravagant to be effective. Small, everyday things, such as saying "thank you" or giving credit for good ideas, can be powerful.
- Overlooking contributors — Although some workers naturally gravitate toward the limelight, don't forget to celebrate unsung heroes who help behind the scenes.
The study was based on surveys of more than 400 workers employed in an office environment.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.