New WorldatWork Survey: Employee Recognition Programs Decline Slightly Employers Focus Recognition on Behavior and Performance in Addition to Tenure

A survey released this week by WorldatWork shows employee recognition has declined slightly: 86% of companies use recognition programs as part of their rewards tool kit, down from 89% in 2008. Fourteen percent of companies reported not having any recognition programs in place whatsoever and 10% reported eliminating some recognition offerings in the12 months prior to the survey.

“A 3% decline is not that significant considering the difficult labor and economic climate since the last survey was conducted,” explained Alison Avalos, research manager for WorldatWork. “The data suggests that even with a recession, recognition programs remain an important component of employee rewards.”

The top three recognition programs are:
• Length of service (90%)
• Above and beyond performance (79%)
• Peer-to-peer (43%)

Programs to motivate specific behaviors climbed in usage by nine percentage points to 34% since 2008.

Top tangible recognition awards presented to employees include:

• Certificates and/or plaques (77%)
• Cash (62%)
• Gift certificates (47%)

The most common objectives for having recognition programs include:

• Recognize years of service (76%)
• Create a positive work environment (74%)
• Motivate high performance (71%)

Key survey findings:
1. 78 % of respondents report they set aside an annual budget for their recognition programs; the average budget was 2% of the payroll budget, down from 2.7% in 2008.
2. 52% of respondents believe senior management views recognition as an investment rather than expense.
3. 11% of organizations measure the return on investment (ROI) on their recognition programs.

About the Survey
WorldatWork collected survey data from January 19 to February 4, 2011. There were 641 responses in the final dataset. Survey respondents were WorldatWork members employed in the HR, compensation and benefits departments of mostly large U.S. organizations: 69% from private sector and 31% from public sector and not-for-profit. Media may request a copy of the report by contacting Marcia Rhodes in Media Relations at WorldatWork.

About WorldatWork®:
The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork ( is a not-for-profit organization providing education, conferences and research focused on global human resources issues including compensation, benefits, work-life and integrated total rewards to attract, motivate and retain a talented workforce. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork has nearly 30,000 members in more than 100 countries. Its affiliate organization, WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals®, is the certifying body for the prestigious Certified Compensation Professional® (CCP®), Certified Benefits Professional® (CBP), Global Remuneration Professional (GRP®), Work-Life Certified Professional™ (WLCP®), Certified Sales Compensation Professional™ (CSCP™), and Certified Executive Compensation Professional™ (CECP™). WorldatWork has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Washington, D.C.

The WorldatWork group of registered marks includes: Alliance for Work-Life Progress® or AWLP®, workspan®, WorldatWork ® Journal, and Compensation Conundrum®.

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