The practical magic of 'thank you'

How your people want to be recognised, for what, and by whom

Our study reveals that 85 percent of professionals want to hear “thank you” in day-to-day interactions.

Business Chemistry can help leaders reinvent recognition with a more human-centric approach

Recognition at work is associated with increased levels of engagement and lower rates of turnover. It can make the work environment more positive and help everyone be more productive, all while having positive benefits for the person expressing appreciation. Today’s employees want a relationship with their employer that is personalised, flexible, and customised, and they want to feel appreciated and valued for what they do.

Deloitte’s Business Chemistry insights team has released a new survey of 16,000 professionals, across a variety of industries, from C-suite leaders to junior staff, that confirms that when it comes to recognising others, like many things at work, one size doesn’t fit all — and surprisingly, very few people want recognition that’s widely shared.

Business Chemistry is Deloitte’s framework for understanding and engaging different working styles. There are four primary Business Chemistry types, each with unique perspectives and strengths. As part of the research, Deloitte explored the varying preferences of different Business Chemistry types to help identify practical strategies for creating stronger working
relationships, both individually and on a team, through recognition.

Deloitte employee recognition study highlights

Key takeaways of the employee recognition study:

  • while we likely all agree that recognising others for their work is a positive thing, people differ in “how” they want to be recognised, “for what” and “by whom”
  • three quarters of people are satisfied with a “thank you” for their everyday efforts. However, 36 percent of women would prefer you make the extra effort and put that in writing
  • most people prefer recognition that is either shared with a few people or delivered privately, rather than widely shared
  • even when the accomplishment is significant, cash isn’t king. Across organisational levels, generations, genders, and Business Chemistry types, the most valued type of recognition is a new growth opportunity – particularly for Millennials, Pioneers, and Drivers.


This study is certainly not the first to suggest the wisdom of paying attention to individual preferences when it comes to recognising people’s contributions. But if the overall messages are more reminders than epiphanies, what’s new here is Business Chemistry® as a framework for thinking through your recognition strategy so that it’s truly meaningful to people.

Our findings suggest there are some areas where most people are in agreement—saying thank you and offering opportunities to learn and grow, are key to making people feel appreciated—and other areas where the Business Chemistry types differ quite a bit, as do different generations and organisational levels.

The organisations that thrive in the future will likely be those that create cultures, structures, programmes, and policies that help people find meaning in their work. But there is a critical role for individuals to play as well. When you recognise someone for their unique contribution to your team or organisation—especially when you do so in ways they prefer—it validates them, demonstrates that they belong, and helps them connect with that sense of meaning. At the same time, you can positively impact your work environment, while making the world a better place. For that, we’ll say in advance, “Thank you.”

Deloitte recognition study methodology

Between January of 2017 and December of 2018, 16,066 professionals completed our online Business Chemistry assessment and answered questions about their recognition preferences. Participants worked at varying organisational levels, representing more than 4,000 organisations in 101 different countries across a variety of industries.


The practical magic of ‘thank you’ – finding excerpts

For questions about the report, please contact Jessica Dooley

Did you find this useful?