Emotional bonds drive workplace engagement, yet only 42% get the nod of recognition from the C-suite

Survey highlights line managers and peers as the ‘unsung heroes’ of employee recognition

Boostworks, a leading provider of employee reward and recognition, benefits delivery and wellbeing solutions’, has today launched the findings of its latest research-based whitepaper: “The Heart of Workplace Engagement”. Importantly, the paper revealed that 70% of employees highlight the importance of recognition, but less than half (42%) report receiving regular recognition from their CEOs.

Flagging the importance of the pivotal role of emotional bonds in fostering an engaged and productive workforce, the research – carried out across 3,000 HR professionals, C-suite leaders, and employees across UK businesses – is a deep dive into the role of employer recognition. It emphasises the particular importance of line managers and peers and how they’re the ‘unsung heroes’ for recognising employee achievements and progress.  Receiving recognition from managers was cited as pivotal, impacting morale and engagement for 51% of employees.

“In today’s dynamic workplace environment cultivating a thriving culture must extend beyond mere words,” said Andy Caldicott, CEO at Boostworks. “It requires embedding emotional connections and personalised recognition into the daily experiences of employees.

“Our research shows a significant discrepancy between employee needs for recognition and what is actually given, underscoring a substantial gap in leadership practices where the emotional and professional needs of employees are not being fully met.

Key findings and recommendations:

Emotional connections matter:

  • 70% of employees emphasised the importance of emotional connections, highlighting empathy as a critical part of the recognition process.
  • Unfortunately, less than half (42%) of employees reported receiving regular recognition from their CEOs.
  • 81% of HR professionals resonated with the need for emotional bonds, emphasising direct manager feedback and peer recognition.
  • 76% of C-suite leaders acknowledged challenges aligning these practices with business goals due to traditional compensation strategies.

Mind the gap:

  • Nearly 70% of employees and 81% of HR professionals believed in the importance of emotional connections at work.
  • However, only 42% of employees felt acknowledged by their CEOs.
  • Receiving recognition from managers was cited as pivotal, impacting morale and engagement for 51% of employees.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition also held significant value – (55%) acknowledge work milestones and 59% acknowledge their personal milestones.
  • Yet, half of the employees surveyed (50%) agree that senior managers receive more recognition than those at a lower level.

Unsung heroes: Line managers and peers:

  • 51% of employees believed direct recognition from managers positively impacted their morale and engagement.
  • 53% agreed that their line managers regularly acknowledged work milestones, while 51% acknowledged personal milestones.
  • Colleagues also play a role in recognition, with 55% acknowledging work milestones and 59% acknowledging personal milestones.
  • Managers need adequate support; 48% of employees believed they should regularly share information about available rewards and benefits.

Communication and transparency:

  • While 76% of C-suite executives perceived communication as open, only 51% of employees shared the same view.
  • A significant portion of employees (25%) desired more frequent updates on rewards and recognition. Meanwhile, 40% of HR professionals and 39% of C-suite executives agreed on communicating about rewards every 2-3 months, though 38% believed it should be monthly or more often.

“The narrative here is clear – the journey towards a thriving workplace culture is a collective endeavour, demanding a strategic approach to harmonise recognition practices with the holistic aspirations of all employees,” concludes Caldicott.

“Businesses must prioritise emotional connections and recognise the unsung heroes – line managers and peers. By fostering a culture of recognition and setting the tone for better, more transparent communications, organisations can enhance engagement, satisfaction, and all importantly, retention.”

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