‘Compensation Is Not Appreciation’

According to “Mind the Workplace,” a new joint report by the Faas Foundation and Mental Health America, 71 percent of employees are thinking about—or actively looking— for new jobs.

That’s according to the report’s Workplace Health Survey of 17,000 employees across 19 industries in the U.S. The survey also found that the healthiest workplace industries are healthcare, financial Services and nonprofits, while the most unhealthy industries are manufacturing, retail and food and beverage.

The Workplace Health Survey findings also show that “only 21 percent of respondents felt that they were paid what they deserved, while 44 percent of respondents felt that skilled employees were not given recognition. Additionally, only 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents felt that they could rely on supervisor and colleague support, respectively.”

This perceived lack of support and recognition in the workplace, the report’s executive summary notes, contribute to higher levels of workplace stress and isolation, and are strongly correlated with job dissatisfaction. Survey respondents also reported high rates of absenteeism (33 percent) and work-family (81 percent), as well as increased mental health and behavioral problems (63 percent).”

The good news from the report, says Carmine Gallo, a contributor at Forbes who posted on the study’s results, is that “if leaders want to keep employees happy and loyal, there is a ‘low-cost’ option that ‘makes a significant impact.’ The ‘option’ is called praise. You’ve heard of it, but are you implementing it?”

According to the study, Gallo says, “Staff recognition and praise matters more than compensation, indicating that improving managements’ skills and ability to provide verbal and written support is more meaningful than increasing salaries . . . employees want to feel valued.”

Gallo goes on to cite behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s book, Payoff, in which the author “reveals the results of experiments which find that money matters far less to employees than either they or their bosses think.”

“When we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation,” writes Ariely. “Acknowledgement is a kind of human magic—a small human connection, a gift from one person to another that translates into a much larger, more meaningful outcome.”

Compensation is not the same as appreciation, Gallo concludes.

“Appreciation is an emotion, a feeling that your boss values your contribution. Those leaders who actively engage people’s positive emotions have companies that score better on almost all metrics: financial performance, employee engagement, retention and recruiting.”