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Quantum Workplace, a neat performance/engagement/employee survey shop out of Omaha, recently released it's 2014 Recognition Trends Report.  It's a nice report, so go get it and dig in.

Here's my top-line and what I found most interesting.  The chart below shows the top desired forms of recognition across four groups of your employees - the Engaged, the Contributing, the Disengaged and the Hostile employee.  Check out the chart below (email subscribers enable photos or click through to see the chart) and I'll break it down after the jump:

Quantum workplace

I've got a friend named Tim Sackett who saw this chart and claimed it's all about the money, and the rest of the industry claims about different forms of recognition having impact are total BS.

I think there's some validity to that, but I was drawn the following contrasts out of the data:

-Engaged employees don't care about your offers of additional paid time off to the extent less engaged employees do.  That makes sense.  They're engaged and want to work.  

-Pay increases are tops across the chart, but engaged employees would rather have access to learning/training and more flexibility/autonomy over a spontaneous cash bonus.

-Engaged employees don't give a crap about a promotion like the rest of the employee classifications do.  I suspect that's because they're high performers and they know that's already going to happen one way or another - whether your company does it for them or if they have to switch companies to get the promotion.

More fodder to treat people differently when it comes to performance management, recognition and overall resources at your company.

The disengaged and hostile employees say "pay me" and "promote me" when recognition comes there way.  The engaged are good with pay, but a promotion is second to last.  What a scream. And how true.

If you want to dig into the report, call my buddy Jason Lauritsen over at Quantum.  He's a lifelong HR pro and the real deal.


Paul Hebert

I already ran my screed over on Sackett's blog but I have one word for those that want to use money as their engagement stick...


Look it up. Money creates greed not loyalty. Everyone (I repeat EVERYONE) lists money as as a driver of engagement - even when research shows they don't engage more for money (even after they said they would.)

Remember - mercenary. You get what you pay for.

For those that may want to think about this a bit more...

For those that want the money quote from the post:

“Despite this strong preference for cash, the gift in-kind has a substantially stronger effect on workers’ productivity than the cash gift. This suggests that the monetary value of the gift is of lesser importance than its signaling character.”


I get that a bump in earnings is not in itself a long-term driver of a person's engagement level, but when I'm awarded a meaningful raise based on my performance, I take that as a signal that the company is investing in me. This is the company using its most precious resource (money) to say "you keep adding more value," or "you are in our future plans," or at least "we are afraid you might leave." The money is a short-lived high, but the knowledge that I'm investment-grade talent in the eyes of my management chain definitely sticks.

In fact, in the context of a monetary reward, each instance of one of the above non-monetary signals (e.g. praise from upper management, added responsibility, access to new opportunities), becomes like a powerful engagement "booster" because now the overall story really sticks together.

But when the non-monetary rewards keep coming without ever receiving any actual dollars, there is something inauthentic about the overall message. In that case each subsequent non-monetary reward takes a larger "discount" to the engagement boost it would normally provide, until eventually they don't really move the needle at all.

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