Press releases

Deloitte Greenhouse Recognition Survey

New York, June 18, 2019

People Want to Be Recognized, But Not How You Think

Key takeaways

  • While we likely all agree that recognizing others for their work is a positive thing, people differ in “how” they want to be recognized, “for what” and “by whom.” 
  • Three-quarters of people are satisfied with a “thank you” for their everyday efforts. However, 36% of woman 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 organizational levels, generations, genders, and Business Chemistry types, the most valued type of recognition is a new growth opportunity – particularly for Millennials, Pioneers, and Drivers.

Why is this important in the workplace?

When it comes to recognizing others, like many things at work, one size doesn’t fit all—and surprisingly, very few people want recognition that’s widely shared. This was confirmed by Deloitte Greenhouse® Experience Group in their survey of 16,000 professionals, across a variety of industries, from C-suite leaders to junior staff. As part of the research, we explored the varying preferences of different Business Chemistry types to help identify practical strategies for creating stronger working relationships with them, both individually and on a team. There are four primary Business Chemistry types, each with unique perspectives and strengths. They include:

A simple “thank you” goes a long way

There is a strong preference for a simple thank you, across all organizational levels, generations, genders, and Business Chemistry types. Simply saying “thank you” for their everyday efforts can satisfy three-quarters of the people you work with, and for more than half of them that “thank you” can be verbal. These preferences represent a tremendous opportunity to make the people you work with feel appreciated. If you think recognizing people must be costly, think again. Saying “thank you” doesn’t need to cost a thing, and recognitions that have a price tag attached, like celebrations and gifts, rank far behind the “thank you.”

I’ll take that in writing, please

While a verbal thank you will suffice more often than not, if you’re recognizing a woman, consider making the extra effort to put your thanks in writing — 36 percent of women surveyed prefer a written thank-you, compared to 28 percent of men surveyed. Gender differences were also found when it comes to reasons for recognition — 34 percent of women prefer to be recognized for success, compared with 46 percent of men. Women desire recognition however, compared to men, they prefer recognition for their knowledge (27 percent), effort (22 percent), and for living the organization’s core values (17 percent). The survey also found when looking to show appreciation for a colleague, a person’s Business Chemistry type drives their recognition preferences more so than gender.

Money isn’t everything

When asked to choose between a new growth opportunity, bonus, salary increase or high performance rating, 47 percent of people preferred a new growth opportunity. This was particularly true among Pioneers, who are most likely to value possibilities. Salary increases, high performance ratings, and bonuses were far less popular choices, selected by 23 percent, 21 percent, and 10 percent, respectively — surprising given that performance management processes often explicitly characterize these three factors as rewards for great performance. Instead, companies can do more to frame new growth opportunities as rewards, which could lead to an increased sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in the long term.

You can recognize excellent work by assigning even more challenging work.

“It is important to me to have my efforts and results recognized through not only a salary increase or an award, but rather, through the offering of more tasks and projects that require more expertise.”

“Being rewarded through extra and more complex work is important to me as it shows that my superiors know that I can handle more complex tasks and workloads.”

“I am early in my career, so if I were to get anything, I'd love a promotion. Promotions come with more responsibility and more opportunity to learn and grow which is why it is the best thing to get.”

There is tremendous value in understanding the perspectives of those you work with, and this includes their preferences for how they want to be recognized. This understanding can help create more successful working relationships, while fostering a workplace that validates its people and their unique contributions.

Suzanne Vickberg, senior manager, applied insights lead, the Deloitte Greenhouse® Experience, Deloitte Consulting LLP

As workers increasingly seek meaning in their work and reinvent themselves with a human focus, recognition becomes a critical aspect of an organization’s culture and programs, and thus its success, providing its people with a sense of belonging and esteem.

Melanie Langsett, principal, human capital, Deloitte Consulting LLP

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