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Recognition and Development: Two Key Cogs in Employee Satisfaction

Recognition is a key total rewards element that all employers should strive to excel at to increase employee engagement and productivity.

Today, Employee Appreciation Day, is a good time for organizations to take inventory of their own recognition programs to make sure they’re achieving the desired results. Research from Gloat, a workforce agility platform, found that 84% of the value of a business today is attributable to intangible assets within it such as talent and intellectual property, which are people driven.

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Thus, it’s imperative that employers take care of their people, which includes recognizing them.

“The pandemic has made clear what many of us in the HR space have known for some time — the talent within an organization is the most important asset within a business,” said Brian Hershey, head of enterprise strategy at Gloat. “Engaging, inspiring and maximizing the potential of that talent is critical for an enterprise to thrive, now more than ever.”

Gloat’s research finds that talent engagement isn’t just about compensation, but also employees feeling like they have the opportunity to grow and develop within an organization.

“This requires employers to see the full spectrum of potential those employees have to make an impact within the organization,” Hershey said. “People want the opportunity for growth and experiences beyond their job descriptions, and as managers and leaders, we need to expand the way we recognize our employees to account for that reality.” 

Gloat’s survey of more than 1,000 employees found that nearly half (46%) of Black employees said they feel underutilized by their employer, while 38% of Latinx employees said they feel the same. This is important, because it turns out that how employees perceive their prospects for advancement and growth have more to do with their job satisfaction than their title or pay.

“That is a clear sign that we have significant room for improvement when it comes to including, engaging and inspiring the diverse talent within our organizations by making them feel like there is always an opportunity for growth available,” Hershey said. “There is a reason the DEI conversation has become one of the most prominent discussions in not just HR, but business and society more broadly. We have a lot of work to do to create more diverse and representative workforces across the board.”

The picture is even starker by gender: Almost twice as many women (43%) as men (24%) feel their company doesn’t utilize their full potential. The spread of men and women in leadership positions bears this out: In the representative sample of more than 1,000 U.S. employees surveyed:

  • 82% of women were in entry-level, associate, or specialist roles. 
  • 80% of men were in managerial or executive positions.
  • At the management level, 45% were men and 12% were women.
  • At the C-level, 16% were men and just 2% were women.

When asked what they would like to see their company do to utilize their potential more fully, women were significantly more interested in having a mentor (21%) than men (14%).

“The data tells a clear story — our workplaces aren’t tapping into the full potential of female talent to nearly the same extent as male talent,” Hershey said. “It’s a stark reminder that recruiting female talent is just the first step, and that we cannot forget to then focus on the experience women are having after they have actually entered the company. If you do not create an environment internally in which women see opportunities for growth and development, they may not stick around for very long.”

A broad overview of the data found that two-thirds (64%) of the employees surveyed said they plan to leave their current job. The main reasons for doing so included:  

  • Lack of opportunity for growth,
  • Want a change or to do something new,
  • Unsatisfied with compensation or benefits,
  • Feeling underappreciated,
  • Feeling pigeonholed or stuck in their position.

Nearly half (47%) of employees wished their company would gain better visibility into their skills, and more than 43% would like opportunities to work on projects outside of their job description. 

Hershey noted that employers should assess their own situation and determine whether they are currently giving their employees opportunities for growth. Upon doing so, they should create an internal network of opportunities for employees to gain skills and experiences that go beyond their job descriptions.

And, most importantly, employers should address several questions while creating this internal network.

“Is there a repository of part-time projects or gigs that employees from different teams can learn about and volunteer their support on?” Hershey asked. “Are there formalized mentorship and networking opportunities employees can partake in? Is there an open marketplace of internal opportunities and full-time jobs where employees can discover and apply for new roles? And, once again, is this network of opportunities transparent and equally accessible to all of your employees, regardless of gender or race?”  

About the Author

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Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.


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