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Vol. LXIV, No. 24
November 23, 2012

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Survey Shows Value of Personal Praise

This past summer, as part of an effort to promote innovative recruitment and retention strategies at NIH, a workforce retention strategies work group launched an NIH Employee Recognition Survey focusing on the types of nonmonetary recognition employees find most meaningful. More than 3,000 employees participated in the survey.

The results reveal that employees value acknowledgement and leadership support, as well as projects of interest, additional training and time-off awards. Of those responding, 92 percent indicated they are interested in receiving personal praise/accolades from their supervisor and 89 percent of employees are interested in time-off awards and projects or assignments of interest. In addition, 87 percent of employees are interested in receiving additional training/conferences.

Further analysis demonstrated how strongly employees felt about each method of recognition. When taking the average rating for each method of recognition, time-off awards were rated highest, projects or assignments of interest were second and personal praise/accolades from their supervisor came in third.

For IC and NIH leadership, employees stated a desire for more visibility and contact through: more personal visits (e.g. in labs, units, town-hall meetings); open communication and transparency; and collaboration, soliciting and listening to employee ideas.

A 2012 study by the Partnership for Public Service stated that, in their government-wide job satisfaction analysis, satisfaction with leadership was about five times more important than pay. The report said: “Federal employees weigh the totality of their job experience, and if they admire the agency leaders, get along well with their supervisor and feel their talents are being used well toward a compelling mission, they may remain engaged and motivated even if they are dissatisfied with pay.”

The NIH Employee Recognition Survey results are important for supervisors to note, given limits on cash awards and tight budgets. Often, verbal or written personal accolades and additional workplace flexibility are just as, if not more, meaningful to employees.

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