A new study looks into recognition in the workplace, delving deeper into the reward priorities between males and females and age gaps. 

The research has revealed that over half of workers in the UK say that they would prefer to be thanked by their managers as and when they do good work, rather than with a single annual event for recognition such as work anniversaries, performance reviews, or company events. Despite this, the majority of the £35.6bn a year that companies spend on employee recognition is instead focused on rewarding tenure, through long service awards, for example.

The research from Reward Gateway, an employee engagement company, which surveyed 500 employees and 500 senior decision makers has found that almost half of British workers would leave a company if they weren’t regularly thanked and recognised for their efforts; a striking statistic for businesses struggling to curb falling employee retention rates.

A huge 84 per cent of workers think managers and leaders should spot good work and give praise and thanks whenever it happens and the majority (80 per cent) think this should happen on a continuous, all year round basis.


For all managers, employee recognition is a priority, however, younger managers are more likely to believe that their employee recognition programme is working.

Half of 18 to 24-year-old managers surveyed don’t believe that staff being regularly recognised has an impact on employee retention, in contrast to only 22 per cent of 45 to 54 year old managers.

In the study, managers were asked how much they were encouraged by their own line managers to show appreciation and thanks to employees in their teams and only half said they received this encouragement. Further to this, only half of managers have tech-based tools to say thank you and recognise good behaviour. Even fewer have access to tools that enable sharing of praise publicly between teams.


It’s the older generation that seem to be missing out on recognition as over 10 per cent more 25-34 year olds feel appreciated at work than 45-54 year olds. However, all age groups are unanimous that they would rather work for a company that had a culture of recognition than a 10 per cent pay rise.

Employees aged 25-34 would prefer to have recognition for good work be left to a single annual event 20 per cent more than those aged 45-54.

Almost 20 per cent more of those aged 18 to 34 believe that their manager could appreciate them more at work than those aged 45 and older.

Gender differences

Only 16 per cent of males don’t feel appreciated at work by their manager, while over one out of five females don’t feel appreciated at work by their manager. Yet both genders agree that motivation and morale would improve in the workplace if managers simply said thank you more and noticed when people do good work.

Interestingly, 10 per cent more males than females prefer praise, recognition, and thank yous to be left to a single annual event. Also, males would prefer to work in a company with a recognition culture than a higher pay rise, than females they are also almost ten per cent more likely to say they would leave a company if they didn’t feel appreciated at work or regularly thanked and praised when I did good work

More female managers personally prioritise showing appreciation to employees that have done good work, than male managers.

Almost 38 per cent of male managers believe that employee recognition has an impact on staff retention, higher than the average across all three countries.






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.