‘Positive feedback more motivating than bonuses or extra holidays’

Equality woman and man


A personal ‘thank you’ by a manager or director is the top motivational factor helping UK employees feel engaged, according to a new survey.

The nationwide survey by Argos for Business found that verbal recognition from a peer ranked far higher for workers of all ages than performance-related bonuses or extra holidays and was most motivational for millennials (those born between 1992 and 2000), with two fifths preferring positive feedback to financial rewards, which only drives three per cent of younger employees. Overall, one in 10 UK workers state they are more likely to remain in a company long-term if they are regularly praised.

Apart from the importance of positive feedback, the survey highlighted a disparity in motivational drivers between the age groups. Only a third of younger employees enjoy working as part of a team, in comparison to over a half of all other workers who appreciate the camaraderie of their teammates. Some  34 per cent of young people were keen to work alone rather than as part of a group, compared to just eight per cent of over 55s.

However, a third of millennials enjoy asking questions to get work done, while 58 per cent of their more experienced colleagues work through ideas independently. A fifth of older team-workers said they enjoyed motivating others and a quarter of younger employees said they were keen to take on new projects, in contrast to only a tenth of all other age groups who enjoy tackling new challenges.

Nevertheless, younger workers were less motivated than their older peers. Forty two per cent of over 55s said they felt motivated every day, whereas less than a quarter of millennials said the same

Emma Glennon, head of key clients at Argos for Business, says: “Nearly half of employees feel a strong sense of accomplishment when their efforts are praised, which will improve motivation levels and impact positively on a business’s bottom line.

However, motivational strategies are as diverse as the demographics they’re intended for, and with the research identifying millennials as requiring more motivation than their more experienced colleagues, a one size fits all approach is not advisable.”

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