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Here's the No. 1 reason why employees quit their jobs

CEO David Novak believes there's a tremendous lack of recognition in the world today, something he calls global recognition deficit.
Young man lying on desk
79 percent of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving.Westend61 / Getty Images

If you go to work every day just going through the motions, you aren’t alone.

According to Gallup, only 33 percent of employees are engaged at work.

So, how can nearly 70 percent of the workforce be disengaged?

I believe it’s because there is a tremendous lack of recognition in the world today, or what I call the global recognition deficit. And there are statistics to prove it.

According to OC Tanner research:

• 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving

• 65 percent of Americans claimed they weren’t even recognized one time last year

My company, oGoLead, fielded national research and found even more evidence for the lack of recognition in the workplace:

• 82 percent of employees feel their supervisor doesn’t recognize them for what they do

• 60 percent say they are more motivated by recognition than money

If leaders give their people the recognition they’ve earned, show genuine appreciation and acknowledge the unique things people have to offer and do, then they will drive significantly better results. At the same time, they will lift the spirits of everyone involved, including themselves, and create a positive energy that becomes contagious and creates a ripple effect across the organization.

So why aren’t more people using the power of recognition in the workplace?

For one, people aren’t using purposeful recognition. In order for recognition to drive results, it has to be earned. And the team has to know how to earn it. Therefore, bosses have to clearly define what they recognize and how it links to performance outcomes. When they do this, it becomes a catalyst for driving results. This is called purposeful recognition.

Second, there are all kinds of barriers that hold people back from recognition. And trust me, I heard them all when I launched the recognition culture at Yum! Brands.

Bosses need to learn how to overcome the barriers to recognition, which will help them become a leader with an engaged team that drives positive results.

Barrier #1: Giving recognition isn’t natural, it’s awkward

The more your boss recognizes someone’s good work, the more he or she gets comfortable with it. Plus, when he or she sees the impact the praise has, it creates motivation to stick with it.

Barrier #2: Fear people will expect to be recognized for everything

This could be a problem if your boss doesn’t have purposeful recognition. Leaders need to identify goals and essential behaviors that will lead to those results, and then recognize the heck out of those behaviors.

The last thing any of us want is for people to think they could get recognized just for showing up to work. That’s why making recognition purposeful is the breakthrough leaders need to get the results they want.

Barrier #3: There is no time to recognize

The time bosses spend on recognition is one of the best investments they can make. By building recognition into their daily routine, it will become more natural for them over time. Recognition just becomes the way they do things, rather than an add on.

In fact, it will actually make them more productive because their employees will want to help them.

I’ve seen purposeful recognition work on a grand scale with people from different walks of life all around the world. It was the key to my success and I think it can be the key to others' success as well.

Disclosure: Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow. is a financial wellness and education initiative from CNBC and Acorns, the micro-investing app. NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.


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