March 2018
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TD Magazine

A Little Goes a Long Way

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Recognizing employees based on company values makes them more likely to stay.

Leadership resources often talk about what makes employees leave a job but not about what makes them stay. WorkHuman Research Institute at Globoforce takes aim at the latter question in its report Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work.


When the study asked participants what makes them stay at their current organization, the most frequently reported choice was that they find their work meaningful. In fact, respondents were more likely to cite meaningful work than their team or even salary as reasons for remaining in a job. Thus, to help retain employees, it's critical to find ways to engage them in meaningful work.

Though it may seem like a simple task, helping people connect with their work may be easier said than done. Globoforce advises organizations to recognize employees and provide validation. Thirty-four percent of participants indicated that they hadn't been recognized for their contributions at work in more than a year; that number increases to 45 percent when looking at those who haven't been recognized in the past six months. What's more, results show that those who were recognized for their work in the past six months are more likely to say that they find purpose and meaning in their jobs than those who hadn't.

The research suggests that having a values-based recognition program—where awards are given to those who demonstrate key organizational values—is the best investment. Nearly all participants (93 percent) who work at an organization with a values-based recognition program find their work meaningful. The existence of values-based recognition programs is also tied to having employees who love their jobs and are more likely to refer others to work at their organization than those at organizations without such programs.

Taken together, these findings suggest that one way organizations can tap into employees' desire for meaningful work is by rewarding employees for exhibiting core organizational values.

About the Author

Megan Cole is a former ATD research analyst. Her primary responsibilities included creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication.

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and earned a doctorate in communication from Arizona State University. 

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