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Gratitude is Better Than a Pay Raise for 55% of U.S. Workers, Survey Finds

A majority of employees would prefer personalized forms of appreciation over a bump in pay (52%) or a promotion (28%).

A recent survey of 2,000 American workers commissioned by Motivosity and conducted by OnePoll found that 55% would prefer having personalized forms of appreciation given to them in the workplace over a bump in pay (52%) or a promotion (28%).

Among those personal forms of gratitude, employees said they would like to receive commendations in one-on-one conversations (15%), “employee of the month” awards (10%), be given a handshake (9%), earn a team-based award (5%), or get a shout out via messaging apps (5%) or email (4%).

The survey found that two in five workers don’t feel appreciated by their bosses for the work they do, and 61% would like to be recognized more for their work.

When asked what it would take for them to work for a different company, 64% of respondents said they would leave for as little as a 10% pay increase. Similarly, 47% would leave for a different company if they received a mere 5% pay increase.

A third (32%) wouldn’t even need another company to offer them any more money to leave.

Other survey respondents said they would jump ship for a 20% raise, a defined pension plan, remote work opportunities, better work-life balance, and a set working schedule.

“It’s no surprise that people are looking for raises in our current economy, but that’s not possible for many companies right now,” Logan Mallory, vice president of marketing at Motivosity, said in a statement. “Still, it’s a mistake for employers to ignore other powerful ways they can show appreciation to the people doing the work. A personal recognition has a massive impact.”

The survey found two in three employed Americans (65%) said they feel motivated to go to work every day, yet 81% agree they would feel more motivated if they also felt more appreciated for their work.

Four in 10 said it would be meaningful to feel recognized and appreciated for the work they do.

Respondents said they would like to see their employer offer the following to make them feel more appreciated at work: more paid time off (37%), hearing “thank you” (21%), and company-provided lunches (17%).

Other forms of appreciation included having an internet stipend (17%), gratitude from executive team members (15%), free company merch (14%), and public recognition (12%).

“It’s not necessarily an employee’s market, but the pendulum will shift again in the future,” Mallory said. “Employers should use this opportunity to create great cultures where their people are excited to come to work and contribute.

“This survey data helps companies understand that raises matter, but their team members are also asking for individual recognition and celebration for the hard work they’re doing,” he added.