The deceptively simple approach that retail managers are overlooking: simply saying thanks

The disconnect: new study finds 67% of retail workforce feel their boss could do more to appreciate them, a huge 13% more than the cross-sector average. This is despite the fact that almost 93% of retail managers report that they prioritise showing timely appreciation and thanks to employees who have done good work, almost 10% more than the cross-sector average.


●       65% of retail workers would rather work for a business with a culture where they received recognition over a higher salary job where they didn’t get any recognition

●       Nearly half of retail employees would leave a company if they didn’t receive recognition

●       Over 30% of retail senior decision makers don’t think that regular recognition and thanking employees at work has a big impact on staff retention

●       77% of retail workers say that motivation and morale would improve if managers simply said thank you more and noticed good work, almost 7% more than the cross-sector average


A new study from employee engagement company, Reward Gateway has revealed the disconnect between what retail employees really want and what their employers think they want.


Research out today has revealed that 85% of retail workers say that they would prefer to be thanked by their managers as and when they do good work, rather than just 37% who would prefer a single annual event for recognition such as work anniversaries, performance reviews, or company events. Despite this, the majority of the £35.6bn a year that companies spend on employee recognition is instead focused on rewarding tenure, through long service awards, for example.


The research from Reward Gateway has also found that almost half (48%) of retail workers would leave a company if they weren’t regularly thanked and recognised for their efforts; a striking statistic for retail businesses struggling to curb falling employee retention rates, and encourage new employees to join their teams in busier seasonal periods.


With retail synonymous for its high-level of employee turnover, the disconnect between employers and employees becomes further apparent in the fact that over 9 in 10 (93%) of senior decision makers say that they prioritise showing appreciation and thanks to employees who have done good work in a timely way, on a regular basis. This is despite the fact that over 69% of workers feel that their colleagues could be thanked and praised more regularly by managers and leaders when they do good work - a stat that is higher in retail than the average across all other industries.


Interestingly, despite employees speaking out on their desire for greater levels of recognition, senior figures within retail industry aren’t ignorant to the importance of employee recognition. Indeed, 56% of retail managers accept that employee recognition impacts staff retention, which is over 5% higher than the average across all industries surveyed.


With a whopping 89% of workers stating that managers and leaders should spot good work and give praise and thanks whenever it happens, it’s clear that retail has adjustments to make if it is to reverse a trend of alarmingly low employee retention rates.


Glenn Elliott, Founder and CEO of Reward Gateway says: “This is another really strong data point that tells us what we’re doing with recognition is wrong. If companies want to improve employee engagement, motivation and retention they need to urgently divert investments from tenure based, long service award programmes which aren’t working but are costing businesses a fortune. We’ve worked hard to make our SmartAwards product support what today’s employees want for recognition and deliver a much improved ROI for clients.”


Liz Crutchley, Head of Reward & Benefits from HomeServe Membership who use Reward Gateway as part of its engagement strategy, says: “At HomeServe, we have a People First culture, where empowerment and recognition form a huge part of the way we do things.


“We actively encourage our People to recognise each other based on our People values. One of the many ways we do this is by using the Reward Gateway online portal which enables our People to send thank you e-cards to one another in a really simple and accessible way. To date, we’ve sent over 33,000 across our business.


“We’ve worked really hard to create a culture that every single person who works at HomeServe is proud to be a part of, and this type of recognition along with the many other initiatives we have implemented, have helped see a huge rise in our engagement.”

To learn more about the report visit