How Do Employees Feel About Workplace Rewards and Recognition?

Feb 27, 2019
| Michael Altiero
Workplace rewards and recognition

As the recruiting market continues to remain extremely competitive, employers have taken steps to improve retention strategies to keep current workers happy and satisfied with their roles.

Engaged, happy employees are much less likely to seek new employment opportunities, which decreases the likelihood of turnover and disruptions to the business.

A key component to an employee retention strategy are the rewards and recognition employees receive for their work performance. But which one do workers prefer?

A recent survey from Korn Ferry explored this and other questions which revealed some interesting data that employers (including small businesses) should keep in mind.

Employee Thoughts on Raises and Promotions

The survey from Korn Ferry was taken by over 1,300 respondents in December 2018. The first question asked to workers was if they prefer getting a raise or a promotion. 55% said they would rather get a salary increase without a promotion, while 45% said they would want a promotion with no salary increase.

This is interesting because it shows the importance of providing employees with learning and development opportunities to help them grow with their company and in their own career.

Next, employees were asked if they would ask for a promotion in the next 12 months. The results were split down the middle, with 50% saying yes and 50% saying no.

Of the 50% that said they wouldn’t be asking for a promotion, the survey asked them why. Here were the top responses:
  • I have received a promotion recently – 57%
  • I’m not ready for a promotion – 28%
  • I’m afraid, don’t know how to ask – 15%

The survey also asked employees to pick the most likely reason why they didn’t receive a promotion within the last 12 months. Here are the four main answers:
  • Bottleneck, nowhere to go – 61%
  • Office politics – 17%
  • Unwillingness by my company to offer compensation tied to a promotion – 12%
  • I’m not yet qualified – 10%

These responses should be of concern to employers, as they can be a main driver for employees to look for new employment opportunities so they can advance their careers.

Would Employees Leave if they are Passed Over for a Promotion?

Smaller employers in particular may be worried that a team member who gets passed over for a promotion will look to leave the company. But what does the data say?
Korn Ferry asked employees what they would do if they got passed over for a promotion. Here are their top answers:
  • Identify the reasons and work to improve – 66%
  • Become a passive job seeker – 19%
  • Immediately look for a new job – 12%
  • Quit with no job prospect – 2%
  • Take no action – 1%

There’s always a chance that a valued team member who doesn’t get a promotion will look for a new opportunity, but according to the survey the majority would actually work to improve their skills with the hopes of improving for future opportunities.

Next, employees were asked how long they expect to stay in a role before being promoted:
  • One year or less – 7%
  • One to two years – 24%
  • Two to three years – 44%
  • Three to five years – 22%
  • More than five years – 3%

For employers, it’s important to set expectations and have an L&D program in place to help prepare employees for their future with the organization. Doing both of these will not only help workers, but also the company in the long run.

Last, employees picked the action they would most likely take if they wanted a promotion:
  • Have a conversation with my boss & identify growth areas – 77%
  • Take on more responsibility – 20%
  • Get a new offer and hope my company counters with a promotion – 3%
  • Work longer hours – 0%

Again, these results show just how valuable having a structured learning program can be for companies, including small business.

Offering Learning Opportunities are Essential for Employers to Increase Retention

A common theme across this survey is the important role learning and development strategies can play in preparing employees for future opportunities, and what these means for company turnover.

Even smaller employers need to have some training programs in place to meet the expectations of employees today, or risk losing current workers who see this as the only way to advance their careers.

Offering learning opportunities can have numerous positive outcomes for both employers and their employees, and is a win-win for all who are involved!

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

Guide to Employment Law eBook