New research shows an upwards trend when it comes to the amount of employees who feel that their work output is being recognised by leaders but there are still critical ways companies can improve.

A new report by O.C. Tanner Europe shows that the number of employees who feel recognised and appreciated by their leaders has increased over the past year.

Over half of workers in the UK (56 per cent) expressed that their leaders were acknowledging the work that they carry out. This has been a small rise in comparison to previous figures from 2018 where only 51 per cent of workers felt the same.

In addition, the quality of recognition has also improved with almost six in 10 (58 per cent) believing that the positive feedback they receive from leaders is sincere. This is a 15 per cent rise when compared to statistics from three years ago, in which less than half of workers (43 per cent) felt the praise was genuine.

Despite this, there were still clear areas for improvement when it came to staff appreciation.

The research indicated fundamental issues with the intrinsic cultures of companies with half of workers (49 per cent) believing that their organisation prioritises profits over people.

Only 45 per cent of employees felt that their organisation consistently rewards high performing employees, demonstrating the haphazard nature of many organisations’ recognition efforts.

This has many consequences for companies with recognition strategies directly contributing towards employee perceptions of their organisation and how it managed the COVID-19 crisis. Overall, recognition during the COVID-19 period led to a 47 per cent increase in employee engagement as well as the same increase in terms of employee innovation.

Additionally, employees who were recognised over the past week were 103 per cent more likely to feel supported by their company during the crisis and two-thirds more likely (+67 per cent) to believe that their organisation cares about the wellbeing of their staff over the bottom line.

To truly harness the power of recognition during the pandemic, O.C. Tanner stated that companies must shift their mindset from considering recognition as a stand-alone initiative to a crucial part of their culture.

By failing to adopt this mindset, this risks employee recognition programs or strategies becoming stale and losing their impact.

Instead, the report suggests that recognition should become integrated with the flow of work to make it more timely, effective and authentic.

In addition, the research calls for organisations to understand the different responses to feeling recognised with certain groups less likely to feel this way. This includes minority employees (39 per cent less likely), female employees (34 per cent less likely) and Gen Z who were the least likely generation to feel recognition. By acknowledging these differences, this can also be integrated into wider D&I strategies.

Robert Ordever, Managing Director of  O.C. Tanner Europe, said:

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of leaders appreciating and recognising their people. It’s one of the pillars of a thriving culture and is key for staff wellbeing, engagement, loyalty and productivity. After all, people who feel appreciated and looked after, will always give more.

Those organisations that still aren’t prioritising staff appreciation and recognition or are doing it inconsistently, need to wake up to the value a clearly thought through recognition strategy can deliver. Ignoring recognition is no longer an option for businesses looking to connect their people and help them to thrive.

*This research was taken from O.C Tanner’s 2021 report ‘2021 Global Culture Report O.C. Tanner Institute’. To obtain these results, 40,000 workers globally were surveyed including 1,629 from the U.K.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.