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16 Surprising Employee Recognition Statistics to Help You in 2020

Employee recognition is defined as the acknowledgement and appreciation of an employee’s hard work and contributions to an organization. Employee recognition statistics provide a better view of how employers should acknowledge and reward their employee’s successes, whether it’s done through a simple thank-you email or a monthly bonus. 

However, aside from the medium used, these efforts also have to feel personal, genuine, and properly executed for them to be well-received. 

Proper implementation of employee recognition programs is important because even the smallest actions can have the biggest impact on the company in terms of productivity, company culture, and turnover rates. 

Important Employee Recognition Facts (Editor’s Picks)

  • Employee recognition is a $46 billion market worldwide. 
  • Only one out of three American employees report receiving recognition in the past week for their successes. 
  • Improving retention is one of the main goals in 60% of employee recognition programs. 
  • 85% of employees are satisfied with a simple “thank you” for their daily efforts and accomplishments. 
  • Peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to yield financial employee recognition benefits than manager-only recognition. 
  • Employees between the ages of 18 and 29 choose quality time as a top employee recognition option. 
  • 52% of employees believe that recognizing employees can increase engagement. 
  • 40% of employees in the United States state that receiving recognition more often would encourage them to do more work. 
  • 63% of appropriately recognized employees are highly unlikely to quit their jobs. 

Employee Recognition Facts

"Well done" written on a blackboard

1. Companies worldwide spend $46 billion on employee recognition programs.

Considering that companies spend 1-2% of payroll on employee recognition, it is a pretty huge market. This also shows how much companies are valuing the numerous benefits of workplace recognition programs. 

2. 83% of organizations suffer from a lack of employee recognition. 

This goes to show that a lot could still be done to improve employee recognition. Although recognition does not replace feedback and accountability in improving employee productivity statistics, it is a driving factor.

3. Only one out of three employees in the United States have received recognition for a job well done in the past week. 

It is pretty common for employees to experience little to no recognition for a job well done. This situation ultimately leads to higher attrition rates because employees whose efforts are not sufficiently recognized are more likely to quit their jobs the following year. 

4. Employee recognition statistics show that 28% of an employee’s most unforgettable recognition comes from their manager. 

Subsequently, 24% of the most unforgettable recognition that an employee receives comes from a CEO or other members of the upper management. These statistics show that a high-level leader taking even a moment of their time to appreciate employees can have a lasting positive impact.

How to Improve Employee Recognition Statistics

5. 47% of employees state that they prefer new growth opportunities as recognition for their accomplishments. 

It turns out that when it comes to recognizing an employee’s success, monetary rewards aren’t the only way to go. Statistics show that millennials and employees referred to as drivers and pioneers in the workplace prefer new growth opportunities than salary increases and bonuses. 

6. An employee recognition survey showed that for daily accomplishments, 85% of employees are satisfied with a simple “thank you” for their efforts. 

This goes to show that a simple expression of gratitude goes a long way when it comes to employee recognition. Of the overall percentage of how employees want to be recognized, 54% want a verbal thank-you, while 31% prefer it written. 

7. Employees aged 18 to 29 had quality time as a top choice for receiving recognition. 

An employee recognition article by Bonusly states that this could be attributed to differences in generations or perhaps life stages. Team closeness may be valued more as individuals first enter a job but could be valued less later on in life when other areas become more focused on. 

8. Women are more inclined to primarily choose acts of service for receiving recognition than men. 

Trends in employee recognition show that approximately 27% of women had acts of service as a top choice for how they want to receive recognition and appreciation from leaders and peers in the workplace compared to only 21% of men. Acts of service include helping with projects, bringing them food during long work hours, or simply offering to do minute tasks for them to focus on bigger tasks.

9. 85% of employees believe that management should provide recognition for a job well done whenever it occurs. 

Additionally, 81% of employees believe that recognition should be given continuously throughout the year. One of the many employee recognition facts to remember is that aside from the proper medium of recognition, appreciating good work in a timely manner is also important.

10. Recognition from peers is 36% more likely to yield positive financial results than manager-only recognition. 

A top-down approach isn’t the only way to go in providing recognition. Providing tools and opportunities for your employees to appreciate each other will foster a positive work environment, increase engagement, productivity, retention, and quality of work — all of which positively impact a company’s financial status.

Two business people happy about improved performance due to knowing employee recognition statistics

Benefits of Employee Recognition

11. 52% of employees believe that employee recognition can improve employee engagement. 

When an employee is recognized and able to take pride in their work, they are highly likely to be satisfied and engaged. To add to that, an engaged employee is more productive, innovative, and less likely to resign than a disengaged employee. 

12. The top 20% of companies with a rich recognition culture have 31% less voluntary turnover.

Research shows that modern employee recognition programs can hugely impact the performance of a business, specifically on improving employee retention stats. What’s more, CEOs are willing to spend millions of dollars to reduce their company’s voluntary turnover rate, and it appears that a proper recognition program could be the answer. 

13. 40% of American employees state that they’d do more at work if they received recognition more often. 

The recognition deficit in most companies today negatively impacts employee productivity and employee morale statistics, which ultimately affects the company’s profitability and revenue. Considering that 83% of organizations lack employee recognition efforts, a lot could still be done to minimize the detrimental effects of this deficit. 

14. 59% of employees would prefer companies with a rich recognition culture than jobs with higher salaries that don’t give any recognition. 

Needless to say, it’s apparent that it’s not always monetary compensation that motivates an employee to stay in a company. One of the many benefits of employee recognition programs is that this practice increases an employee’s loyalty and encourages them to stay longer in the company.

15. Almost 90% of employees who were given recognition by their boss in the past month stated that they trusted that boss more. 

It is certainly not surprising to learn that displaying genuine gratitude in the workplace builds an environment of trust. The impact of recognition on employee performance is made more meaningful by letting employees know that their efforts are important in the big picture. This helps develop genuine connections between leaders and employees. 

16. Doubling the number of employees who receive weekly recognition decreases absenteeism by 27%.

Employee recognition increases engagement in employees who are either not engaged or actively disengaged. This boost in engagement motivates employees to work harder and show up for work, thereby reducing absenteeism.

blackboard drawing of hands shaking


By looking through the latest employee recognition research or conducting their own, companies are able to take a step closer toward improving employee recognition programs. By knowing the preferences of employees and how the many forms of recognition affect them, companies can also come up with personalized programs that show their genuine appreciation and go beyond just simply ticking a box off a list. 


When employees are being recognized for their work, they are likely to feel motivated, accomplished, and valued. Recognition can boost an employee’s morale and encourage them to be more engaged in the workplace. All of these result in increased employee productivity and loyalty, which ultimately leads to lower attrition rates. When employees take pride in their work, they have higher job satisfaction and tend to stay in the company longer. 

There are a lot of benefits and value in employee recognition, not just from the perspective of employees but for employers as well. If done well, employee recognition programs can significantly improve a business.
For one, it creates a conducive work environment and positive company culture. Secondly, when the employee turnover rate is low, a company would have lesser training expenses and could actually retain productive and seasoned employees.
Lastly, employee recognition increases employee productivity and motivates employees to contribute innovative ideas, both of which can increase the company’s revenue and profit.

When planned and executed well, employee recognition programs can have a lot of benefits. They can increase employee retention, loyalty, productivity, and engagement. However, some companies fail to make a difference with their employee recognition programs. 

Short-term programs, for one, may motivate employees but they will likely not last long. Another mistake companies could make is creating programs that don’t foster teamwork but instead create competition among employees. Companies should work on creating recognition programs that encourage employees to communicate, give each other feedback, and improve themselves. Recognition programs should go beyond merely giving rewards and aim to create a work culture. 

Surprisingly, when it comes to employee recognition, monetary rewards aren’t always the top choice for employees. During a survey conducted by Gallup, employees stated that the following forms of recognition were the most unforgettable: public acknowledgment, private commendation, promotion or increase in responsibility, positive reviews and evaluations, monetary rewards, and taking pride in their work. 

For employee recognition efforts to work, it has to feel genuine and personalized and done in a timely manner. Analyzing data from the latest employee recognition statistics will also help companies come up with modern and efficient programs to make their employees feel genuinely recognized and valued.

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