Failure to Recognize May Cause Companies to Lose Talent

Two new surveys reveal that employees who feel they haven't been recognized or rewarded for their efforts plan to look for jobs elsewhere.

By Andrew R. McIlvaine

A close up of a sign

Description generated with very high confidenceIf you're a recruiter, your workload may be about to get even heavier should you happen to work for an organization that doesn't prioritize recognition and rewards for top performance. That's the upshot from two new surveys, which find that employees who feel they haven't been recognized for their performance are getting restless.

"Appropriate compensation is key to a professional's job satisfaction, but being recognized for a job well done through a promotion is also a critical factor in motivating and retaining talented employees," says Tom McMullen, senior client partner at Korn Ferry. "A lack of career-development opportunities is the No. 1 reason why professionals leave a company."

Korn Ferry's recent survey of 850 professionals finds that many organizations aren't doing an adequate job of creating clear advancement opportunities for professionals. More than half (57 percent) of respondents who did not get a promotion within the last 12 months cited "bottleneck or nowhere to go" as the main reason. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) cited "office politics" as the reason why they did not get a promotion.

Meanwhile, a just-released survey from Achievers of 1,700 employees finds that more than half plan to look for new jobs this year, with more than a quarter citing a lack of recognition by their employer as the reason.

When asked what would motivate them to remain with their current employer, respondents cited interesting work (74 percent) and recognition and rewards (69 percent) as the top factors. As for additional perks that would keep them onboard, 57 percent cited more time off while 55 percent cited the ability to work remotely.

"These findings underscore that employees are less influenced by incentives such as a free lunch," says Achievers General Manager Owen Sagness. "They want to work for an employer that recognizes and rewards their contributions to meaningful work."

Employees whose promotion expectations for this year are dashed will most likely be looking for new opportunities, the Korn Ferry survey finds. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of the 47 percent of respondents who said they expected to receive a promotion this year saying they'd be on the job hunt (immediately or as a passive job seeker) if they were passed over.

Many professionals would be OK with a promotion that is not accompanied by a pay raise: 46 percent of respondents to the Korn Ferry survey said they'd prefer a promotion with no pay raise, while 54 percent said they'd prefer a raise with no promotion.

HR leaders need to ensure that professionals are receiving ongoing feedback in terms of how they're doing and what they need to do to be ready to take on added responsibility, says McMullen. "Even if an employee is not yet ready for the next role, knowing that there is potential for a promotion to a more challenging role is an excellent way to retain top talent."

Feb 6, 2018
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