‘If You Create a Great Place to Work, Great Work Takes Place’: BambooHR’s Rusty Lindquist on Rewards and Recognition

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As the old saying goes, “Money isn’t everything.” Sure, it pays the bills and gets you Hamilton tickets (if you’re lucky), but when it comes to happiness in the workplace, salary isn’t the only factor.

In an effort to shed some light on what really drives employee satisfaction, BambooHR recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based employees. To learn more about the survey and its results, we spoke with Rusty Lindquist, BambooHR’s vice president of human capital management strategy, intellectual property, and product marketing.

What follows is a transcript of the interview, minimally edited for style and clarity.

Recruiter.com: Can you give our readers a brief overview of the study? Why did you want to carry out the survey?

Rusty Lindquist: We have an overarching philosophy that if you create a great place to work, great work takes place. We’ve built our company around this principle, and everything we do and everything we are was born from that foundation.

Because of this, we’re constantly trying to deepen our understanding of what exactly it means to provide a great place to work, because it does change over time, across industries, and across demographics.

But there are constants. There are principles that seem to transcend these contingencies, and one of those is this category of rewards and recognition. We’re really interested in understanding the nuances of these constants so that we can imbue those practices in our software and convey them to our customers, so they, too, can create great places to work.

In this particular study we really wanted to figure out what matters in rewards and recognition. We weren’t surprised that dollars were still king when it comes to the expression of appreciation. What we were surprised to find, though, was just how valuable non-monetary recognition was, and the strength of correlation between frequency of recognition and employee satisfaction.

RC: Do you have any suggestions for employers who are looking increase employee job satisfaction?

phoneRL: I think the most refreshing takeaway is that increased employee satisfaction is within reach. We found that 30 percent more of the workforce is satisfied when there’s even an informal recognition program in place. We found that 75 percent of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their jobs. We found that nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email than receive a monetary bonus!

RC:According to survey responses, what’s the best way to reward employees and give company-wide recognition for a job well done?

RL: Our research showed that the most preferred method of recognition was simply an in-person expression from a boss. Second was a personal email from a boss. Third was in-person recognition from a peer. Fourth was a company-wide email from a boss. The key takeaway here is that it doesn’t really have to be disruptive. Simply pulling someone aside and saying “Thank you” seems to be what matters most.

What we didn’t study, but are now interested in, is the compounding effect of these. If the most preferred method was in-person recognition from your boss, and fourth was a company or team-wide email from the boss, what happens if you do both? Because neither costs anything but time and attention.

RC: What role does company culture play in employee engagement?

RL: Put simply, culture is the catalyst of engagement. Even small tweaks to your culture can have significant engagement impacts. For instance, creating a culture of peer recognition and fueling that with carefully architected opportunities – and maybe even automating it with software – can be substantial.

Every month, we have an all-hands company meeting here at Bamboo, and part of that is simply an open-mic session where anyone can stand up and recognize a peer for something they’ve done. According to our survey, that type of recognition from a peer can be more meaningful than a company-wide email from the boss!

RC: That’s it for us! Any final words for our readers?

RL: One of the key takeaways from our research is that recognition needs to feel personal. If you strip away the personal nature of that recognition, you also lose impact. So some of the most effective recognition approaches are also the easiest. Simply pull someone aside and say, “Thank you.”

I think that’s something we can all choose to do a little more of, and now we have jobs data that shows that it matters. As if we needed it.

By Hillary Ferguson