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Build Your Career Office Life

Why Employees Value Appreciation Over Bonuses

Why Employees Value Appreciation Over Bonuses
Credit: TijanaM/Shutterstock

Though getting a raise or a bonus is nice, it's not the most important factor in employees' happiness, according to a recent study.

Rather, employees are motivated more by bosses who let their staff members know when they're doing a good job and who advocate on their employees' behalf. Indeed, a recent study from Appirio, a provider of cloud-based worker and customer experience solutions, found that this appreciation was more important to employees than the prospect of getting a promotion or a cash bonus.

Specifically, 60 percent of the workers surveyed said that when they're analyzing a job offer, the most important factor is knowing whether management appreciates employees, while only 4 percent said they were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises.

"While recruiters may think focusing on total compensation is the best way to win over a prized candidate, workers would rather assess the chemistry between their prospective manager and the team — and for good reason; a manager can make or break the employee experience," the study's authors wrote.

The research found that a greater percentage of those surveyed would rather work for a boss who always had their back than have a clearly defined career or have a results-driven bonus structure. [See Related Story: Want Happy Employees? Make Hiring Harder]

"While fair-market pay and benefits get the candidate to accept an offer, the dynamic of the manager-employee relationship may be a better indicator of employee satisfaction," the researchers wrote.

Although the Appirio report only surveyed professionals in the tech industry, experts agree that employees in any field want to feel appreciated.

"Our survey found that appreciation, connectedness and emotional safety all outrank compensation as important factors in career decision making," Harry West, head of worker experience solutions at Appirio, said in a statement. "Employee engagement can't be solved by simply showering workers with raises and bonuses — companies must be dedicated to providing transparency, support and technologies that keep high-end tech talent happy."

Sometimes, a simple "thank you" is all it takes to put a smile on an employee's face. The research revealed that 55 percent of the workers surveyed value receiving a "thank you" from their managers for a project well done, while only 8 percent would feel disappointed if the same project didn't result in a monetary reward.

"While managers might think their direct reports are disappointed when big projects don't translate into equally big raises, the majority of workers again value a human expression of appreciation for a job well done," the study's authors wrote.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.