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Employees Appreciate Recognition – Maybe More Than You Know

"People often say, recognition doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” -- Zig Ziglar 

Ziglar’s advice is directly applicable to retaining employees, Brad Karsh, CEO of JB Training Solutions, said in a recent SHRM webcast creatively titled “Stay Awhile! Retaining Top Talent Among the Great Resignation.” (Incidentally, Ziglar’s real name was Hilary Hinton Ziglar, so you can forgive the nickname.) 

You’ve no doubt heard that employers nationwide are struggling to fill open positions and retain the employees they do have. “We are truly in unprecedented times,” Brad says. 

But why?  

Simply put, Brad says, disengaged employees are 87% more likely to leave their job.

“In order to retain employees, we need those employees to be excited to be at the company, that they’re growing, they’re learning, that this is a great place for them. What do these look like? They are employees that are engaged. They’re doing what they can to move the company forward. We want engaged employees,” Brad said. 

Naturally, engaged employees perform better and are more productive, more creative and deliver better results. But Brad used a recent poll showing that only 36% of employees report feeling engaged, 16% were disengaged, and 48% considered themselves neither. Ultimately, the goal is to move disengaged employees out of the company, or at least to the “neither” group, and those who are in the neither group to engaged, he said.  

But how? 

A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that 53% of people said feeling more appreciated from their boss would help them stay longer at the company – even though 68% of them say their boss already shows them enough appreciation. The point: Make a concerted effort to ensure your employees feel appreciated. “Don’t give them a reason to look for another job,” Brad says. 

According to one Gallup poll, employees want to:  

  • Know what is expected
  • Have the opportunity to do what they do best every day
  • Know that their development is encouraged
  • Feel as if their job is important
  • Know that their contributions count
  • Get meaningful feedback


Yet doling out praise – while important – isn’t the same as recognizing an employee’s efforts. Recognition consists of showing appreciation by acknowledging and recognizing efforts that are not necessarily based on a completed task. This can be done on a personal level, but it can be even more meaningful in a group setting. 

That being said, Brad says to treat all employees fairly, but not equally, by rewarding those who deserve it. This can come in the form of: 

  • More responsibility: reassigning tasks, making certain decisions, leading a big project, running team meetings
  • More autonomy: setting less-structured deadlines, allowing employees to choose projects to work on 
  • More visibility: introductions to company leaders, shadowing executives 
  • More flexibility: allowing for more work/life balance, relaxing the rules

The remote and hybrid work setting brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to isolation, loneliness and erosion of company culture.

To get a better pulse on employees’ concerns, you could host a company culture brainstorming session or give employees the opportunity to make suggestions on changes they would like to see. You could even take the time to do a corporate culture audit on your company. 


Jason Levan

Jason Levan joined Kuzneski Insurance Group in 2021 as Director of Communications and Content after his first career as a newspaper reporter and editor. In Act II, he oversees the content marketing for the company, with the goal of making the insurance world easier to understand and navigate for our clients. When he’s not at work, you can often find him “banging and clanging” in the gym, or spending time with his family.

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