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Recognition of government employees for a job well done falls short according to new Eagle Hill Consulting research

Government workers say employee recognition programs can lift performance, retention, and motivation

Arlington, Va., November 17, 2022 – With the holiday season nearing, a new national survey of government employees finds that employers should increase their efforts to thank workers for a job well done. Nearly half (46 percent) of public sector employees say they would like to receive more recognition for their work, while nearly one quarter (21 percent) of these workers indicate that are never recognized for their efforts. 

“This research is a clear indication that government employers need to up their efforts on employee recognition programs. We know that government employees are burnt out from several years of unprecedented strains on the public workforce, and many of these employees say they aren’t recognized for their efforts,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Inadequate employee recognition can contribute to missing organizational performance targets and high employee attrition – key issues that many government leaders are struggling to solve.”

“Government employees also indicate that recognition programs motivate them to go above and beyond their responsibilities, which can help address the ‘quiet quitting’ trend. The good news is that there are strategies agency leaders can implement to deliver regular recognition that will get results and are cost effective. For example, government employees say a simple thank you email or note can make a difference, as do rewards like cash incentives or time off. What’s important is for government leaders to create a culture in which worker appreciation is woven into the fabric of day-to-day operations from the top to the bottom rather than just a box that gets checked during annual performance reviews,” Jezior said. 

Other key findings are as follows:

  • Government employees say that recognition programs should be more frequent (43 percent), more proactive (39 percent), more broadly shared across the organization (34 percent), easier to provide (28 percent), and unbiased (28 percent). 
  • When their work is recognized, government employees say they are more likely to go above and beyond their responsibilities (51 percent), stay with their organization (47 percent), be more motivated to support their team (46 percent) and go above and beyond for customers (37 percent). 
  • Few government employers (36 percent) ask their employees how they would like to be recognized. 
  • Ways government employees prefer recognition include cash or gift incentives (44 percent), time off rewards (38 percent), a thank you email or note (35 percent), employee of the week/month programs (26 percent), experience opportunities like tickets to an event (25 percent), public recognition (25 percent), and points to choose a reward (23 percent). 
  • Thirty-three percent of government employees say recognition makes them feel motivated at work, just below meaningful work (58 percent) and a supportive team (53 percent) and just above career potential (30 percent). 
  • Forty-six percent of government employees say their organization has developed new ways for recognizing employees during the past year. 

The results are based upon on the Eagle Hill Consulting Job Well Done national survey conducted by Ipsos from October 5 – 7, 2022, among 1,347 adults aged 18 and older who are employed. The survey also included an augment to collect more interviews from those who work for the government. This augment includes 500 interviews in addition to 250 respondents from the standard survey who work for the government.

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides unconventional management consulting services in the areas of Strategy & Performance, Talent, and Change. The company’s expertise in delivering innovative solutions to unique challenges spans across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A leading authority on employee sentiment, Eagle Hill is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with employees across the U.S. and offices in Boston and Seattle. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contact:  Susan Nealon | 703.229.8600 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill