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Workforce Mood Tracker respondents came from all demographics across the countryEmployee engagement is one of the most important objectives for today’s HR leaders. We know we need it. We know we want it. We know it boosts our bottom line. But what isn’t always clear is what drives it, and how to get it. Connecting with employees effectively can be a mysterious puzzle at times. What is important to them?  What would motivate them to work more productively? What makes them feel valued? There is, thankfully, a better way than tea leaves or crystal balls. Globoforce—the world leader in employee recognition—surveys fully-employed workers in the United States twice a year to answer those very questions. Our aim is to gain more insight into people’s attitudes and perspectives on employee recognition, appreciation and engagement. By capturing the current mood of the U.S. workforce, we can examine broader trends in recognition and job satisfaction. The goal of this report is provide you with invaluable insights that can be used to craft strategies that will unify and engage your workforce and culture.

In this March 2012 survey, we examined:

  • How often and in what ways are employees being recognized
  • Employees feelings about their jobs, recognition and company culture
  • Correlations between engagement, recognition and retention

Below are our findings, compiled from 653 survey respondents:

  • Finding #1: Employee recognition is on the rise.
    More employees in the U.S. work for companies that have recognition programs, and more of them are being recognized as part of those programs.
  • Finding #2: Frequent recognition correlates directly with employee satisfaction.
    Employees who are recognized regularly are more satisfied with their work in the company, feel more appreciated by management and are more apt to love their jobs.
  • Finding #3: Search for greener pastures of recognition fuels employee turnover.
    Employees are more likely to consider leaving a job for a company that recognizes their employees. In fact, most of them have done just that.
  • Finding #4: Appreciation is the foundation for motivation. 
    An overwhelming majority of workers said that being recognized motivates them in their work, and another majority said they would work harder if they were better recognized.
  • Finding #5: Company culture matters.
    While many employees do feel they have a strong and positive company culture, even more indicated that company culture is an important factor to them.


Employee recognition programs are on the rise over the past six monthsEmployee recognition is on the rise—both in the practices of companies and in the minds of employees. More companies see recognition as a critical way of engaging and unifying their global workforce and managing and growing their culture. ccording to our survey, more companies have recognition programs (65 percent vs. 51 percent in Fall 2011) and more employees have been recognized in the past three months (50 percent vs. 44 percent in Fall 2011). That means more employers are embracing recognition.

More employees received employee recognition in the last six months

Recognition is also becoming more important to employees, themselves. Eighty-one percent of employees said recognition made them more satisfied with their work and/or position in the company, which is up from 73 percent in Fall 2011.

This means that companies that neglect or don’t have employee recognition programs are missing a huge opportunity to impact key HR and business metrics. That’s because competitive companies with some kind of recognition program are not only on the rise (up 14 percentage points in just six months), but those programs also differentiate them in the minds of their prospective employees.

81 percent of employees showed elevated job satisfaction from employee recognition

Despite this, 41 percent of respondents haven’t been recognized in the last six months or longer. That number is down from 43 percent of respondents in Fall 2011, but it still represents a big opportunity for companies to increase employee engagement at their organizations—and a big opportunity for companies that practice recognition to lure employees from those who do not. (More on that in Finding #3.)



One recurring theme in this year’s survey is the profound positive impact of engaging frequently with employees, and encouraging them to engage with one another via recognition programs. Across the board, recognition maps directly to feelings of being appreciated, job satisfaction, and whether or not employees love their jobs. That engagement pays dividends.

Each of these three metrics scales directly to frequency of recognition. Infrequent feedback has 30-40 percent less impact than more regular contact with employees. For those recognized within the last three months, the satisfaction is evident: 89 percent feel effectively appreciated by their supervisors, 83 percent feel their level of recognition is satisfactory, and a further 90 percent feel that their managers effectively acknowledge and appreciate them. 76 percent love their jobs, compared to 37 percent of those who were recognized only six months ago or more.

Frequent employee recognition correlates with higher employee engagement and job satisfaction


Unhappy employees keep a company’s revolving door turning. One major factor in how quickly that turnover happens—or doesn’t happen—is recognition. More than half of employees are at risk and 55 percent of workers say they would leave their current jobs for a company that clearly recognizes its employee efforts/contributions. That’s 10 percentage points higher than last Fall. And those employees aren’t kidding. They’ve already done it. In fact, 47 percent of them list lack of recognition or negative company culture as a reason for leaving their last company—up from 41 percent in Fall 2011.

The good news here is that employees with adequate recognition are less likely to abandon the company. Of those who have been recognized in the past three months, only 23 percent are considering a job change. That is versus 51 percent likelihood of jumping ship from those who have never been recognized. The bottom line: recognized employees are far more inclined to stick around.

Employee recognition results in higher employee retention rates


“Thank you.” Who would have predicted that such a simple phrase could yield such significant results? And yet it does. Appreciation is the fuel that drives not only worker happiness, but also worker motivation. Positive recognition from managers and peers has been proven to make a significant difference in engagement. Employee engagement is linked again and again in studies to motivation, productivity and increased earnings and profits for companies.

And that trend is only growing; 82 percent of employees said being recognized actually motivated them in their jobs—that’s up from 78 percent in Fall 2011. 78 percent of workers said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized and appreciated, up from 69 percent last Fall.

US workers get motivated from strategic recognition programs US workers have higher motivation levels from effective recognition programs



Employee recognition programs drive a culture of recognition and help manage cultures

Culture counts. Many of us spend more waking hours with our co-workers than our families, and knowing those peers share our goals and core values is important. Eighty-percent of the people we surveyed consider company culture an important aspect of the company they work for.

One winning roadmap for improving company culture is recognition. In fact, in our survey, strength of company culture corresponded directly to frequency of recognition. At the very least, we can see that employees who are recognized have a much higher stake in corporate culture.

Sadly, only 55 percent of employees surveyed think they work in a good culture. The other 45 percent think their company culture is not strong, positive, or appreciated by management and employees. That’s a pretty significant disconnect, and represents a real opportunity to improve.

When recognition is tied to company values, employees better understand how their efforts are valued by the company and their peers. This creates a work environment that encourages more engagement from employees. This type of alignment can provide the direction and reinforcement for a company’s culture, as employees will know the type of behaviors that are most desired.


Recognition has not only become part of our dialogue, it has become a fundamental way in which we evaluate our company cultures and our jobs. Across the board, recognition equates to motivation and success not only for employees, but for employers.

In our Spring 2012 Globoforce Mood Tracker, we examined patterns of worker recognition, and then we analyzed workers’ attitudes toward and responses to that recognition, (or lack thereof). From the 653 respondents, we uncovered the following five findings:

  • Employee recognition is moving to center stage. More companies are using recognition, more employees are being recognized, and more employees are factoring recognition programs into how they measure job satisfaction. We expect this trend to continue.
  • Frequent recognition and employee satisfaction go hand-in-hand. Regular recognition correlates with satisfaction, feeling appreciated, and feeling more effectively recognized by management. People who are recognized are much more likely love their jobs.
  • Failure to recognize may result in higher turnover. Employees are more likely to jump ship for a job at a company that recognizes their employees, and many of them have done so. Recognized employees are much more likely to stick around.
  • Appreciation = Motivation. Recognition provides motivation and employees say that more recognition and appreciation would motivate them to work harder.
  • Culture matters. More employees value a strong, positive company culture. Where almost half of company cultures currently fall short, recognition represents an opportunity to reverse that trend.


Do you feel appreciated at your job? 64% 36%
Are you satisfied with the level of recognition you receive for doing a good job at work? 54% 46%
Do you feel your manager or supervisor effectively acknowledges and appreciates you at work? 62% 38%
Do you love your job? 57% 43%
At your company, are people rewarded according to their job performance? 46% 54%
Do you like to have your efforts/contributions at work recognized? 86% 14%
Did being recognized for your efforts/contributions motivate you in your job? 82% 18%
Did receiving recognition make you more satisfied with your work and/or position in the company? 81% 19%
Do you consider company culture an important aspect of the company you work for? 80% 20%
Do you feel your company’s culture is one that is strong and positive, and appreciated by both management and employees? 55% 45%
Would you leave your current job for a company that clearly recognized employees for their efforts/contributions? 55% 45%
Do you plan to search for a new job in 2011/2012? 34% 66%
Have you ever left a job because you weren’t recognized/ appreciated for your work? 31% 69%
Would you work harder if your efforts were better recognized and appreciated? 78% 22%


The Globoforce Mood Tracker Survey was conducted by Globoforce from March 16-19, 2012. This is the third deployment of the semi-annual survey since its launch in Spring 2011.

This edition of the survey was conducted by independent market research firm MarketTools. The final sample of the survey was composed of 653 randomly-selected, fully employed persons in the United States (aged 18 or older) who are employed at organizations with a staff size of 500 or more employees. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence.


Founded in 1999, Globoforce is the world’s leading provider of employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover actionable insight about their talent. Today, employees across the world are living their company values and achieving peak performance through the SaaS-based Globoforce platform. A private corporation, Globoforce is co-headquartered in Southborough, Massachusetts, and Dublin, Ireland.

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