The one strategy that businesses need to retain top talent

What boosts workplace happiness and retains top talent: recognition or big fat bonuses?

Almost half of UK employees are unhappy at work, according to employee surveys across the nation. But with happy employees reportedly 12 per cent more productive at work, is this something employers are missing out on?

New research conducted by employee services provider Personal Group has revealed that a further 30 per cent of front-line employees never feel enthusiastic about work. The research uncovers some concerning statistics, including that 35 per cent of workers would be happier with greater recognition in the workplace.

Clearly, there are improvements to be made if businesses are to benefit from happy, well-adjusted staff, says Nick Pollitt, MD of DBI Furniture Solutions. “More employers need to be recognising the varied and unique mix of personalities within their business, and start viewing them in a more human way,” he says.

“There are so many personality traits within an office, but they can often get overlooked. This leads to individuals feeling unvalued and, at worst, dispensary.”

“It takes a few simple steps to prevent this from happening, and it begins with awareness. If there is a creative genius in the ranks, make your appreciation heard. Do you have a constantly positive presence? Thank them! Productivity has so much to do with employee engagement, recognition and praise. With these values in tow, your business should see the improvements almost immediately.”

Separate research into remuneration and happiness from Sodexo Engage, only 30 per cent of employees feel motivated by receiving one big reward at the end of the year, despite the fact that annual bonuses have been a corporate tradition for decades.

In 2016, a record total of £46.4 billion was paid out in bonuses across the UK, with the average British worker receiving a bonus of £1,600. However, the results from the survey of 2,000 UK employees suggest that this tradition might not be as popular as many businesses think.

The research indicates a growing trend away from year-end bonuses, with only one in four of 18 to 24 year olds and 27 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds saying they feel motivated by them.

The results suggest that several smaller rewards throughout the year would be a more popular approach to rewarding staff. More than four out of 10 of those surveyed agree with this approach, with this figure rising to 47 per cent among workers between 18 and 34 years old.

“Our research shows a change in attitude among British workers when it comes to being rewarded,” says Iain Thomson, director of incentive and recognition at Sodexo Engage. “Cash incentives are no longer having the effect they had 10 years ago. Rewards like these have almost come to be expected by some employees, which can actually devalue their achievements.”

“What people really want is a closer relationship with their employer and more opportunities to be rewarded. Rather than cash, which can get lost in bills and household expenses, employers have the opportunity to give their employees something more memorable. This will help businesses to create much stronger relationships with their staff.”

This shift means that employers now have the opportunity to break down large end-of-year targets into smaller and more manageable objectives, which will help to keep staff motivated throughout the year and improve overall productivity.

Ultimately, it appears that workplace happiness isn’t just defined by a pay packet or a simple pat on the back.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.