Work Friends & Social Recognition

All of us want to feel valued for our contribution in the workplace. But there may be a disconnect between what employers think drive this feeling of being valued and what employees actually want and need.

It turns out that peer relationships can greatly impact our level of commitment and engagement. And the more friends we have at work, the more likely we are to trust co-workers as well as leadership.

Another area is in years of service recognition. The days of the gold watch or pin for various years of service no longer suffice as recent research has show that employees are more likely to be moved by emotionally-driven, social recognition.

These are the findings of research by Globoforce in a report called “The Effect of Work Relationships on Organizational Culture and Commitment.” The Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker recently surveyed 716 randomly selected employees in the United States who were working in companies with at least 500 employees.

When we consider that most of us with full time jobs spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these relationships.

Among the research findings with regard to peer relationships:

  • 93% value the respect of work friends or colleagues and 63% of them find it extremely important or very important.
  • 74% claim to have a shared history and memories with co-workers.
  • 89% say work relationships matter to their quality of life, with more than half (55%) saying it is extremely important or very important.
  • Employees with friends at work are twice as likely to trust leadership than those without friends.
  • The more friends one has at work, the higher level of pride they take in their company as well as their co-workers.
  • The more friends an employee has at work, the less likely they are to leave. In response to: “Would you accept another job if it were offered to you?” those with no friends at work were 42% likely, while those with 1-5 friends 38% likely, and those with 6 to 25 friends only 30% likely.
  • Highly engaged workers: no friends 28%, 1-5 friends 37%, 6-25 friends 48%, 25+ friends 69%.

 

Clearly, having friends at work can directly impact trust, engagement, retention and overall quality of life.

When it comes to recognition, the survey also found that meaningful recognition matters, and when not tied in with co-workers can actually negatively impact the employee. Among the findings on recognition:

  • Employees feel more valued when peers participate in anniversaries. 70% vs. 24% feel more valued when celebrated with peers in addition to the company as opposed to the company alone.
  • Workers with peer-celebrated milestones are less likely to leave the company for another position. In response to the question: “Would you accept a new job if it were offered to you?” 74% said yes when there was no celebration at all, 66% said yes when celebration was with company only, and only 52% said yes when celebration included co-workers.
  • When employees report their last company milestone as “an emotional, moving or poignant experience,” they are significantly more likely to see that anniversary as positive and three times more likely to say it made them feel more valued.
  • Employees were more likely to report a positive experience when the formal recognition experience was tied to company goals and values. They were also three times more likely to say it made them feel more valued.
  • When asked what could make the milestone experience more meaningful, 65% said shared stories and memories, and 72% said they like the idea of including a retrospective of their career accomplishments.

 

Emotional anniversaries and recognition make employees feel more valued with higher pride, higher engagement, and are more reflective and likely to renew their commitment to the company.

So how do you encourage workplace friendships and provide more robust, meaningful recognition? Obviously, a friendly and welcoming workplace is more likely to encourage people to socialize. Specificity both positive and negative when providing feedback is extremely helpful. Also, you can encourage other’s opinions and viewpoints when determining policy decisions and workplace issues.

Peter Drucker once said “culture eats strategy over breakfast.” Staying on top of your company’s culture to keep it positive and aligned with your values will go a long way towards encouraging friendships and making recognition more meaningful. Never underestimate the power of your company’s culture.

A product called TINYpulse can capture anonymous feedback from team members to reveal insights, trends, and opportunities to improve retention, culture and results. Think of it like the old fashioned “suggestion box” only it can be done with quick online surveys directly pushed to employees. This will help keep them involved and encourage them to feel their opinions matter.

Finding ways to foster friendships as well as acknowledging years of service by including co-workers in the recognition will go a long way in making employees feel valued. And feeling valued is what will make employees more engaged, productive, and less likely to leave for another opportunity.

 

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