Survey Suggests Workers Most Motivated by Recognition of Achievements

MENLO PARK, CA -- While hosting team-building events and giving increased responsibility are common ways to motivate staff, a new survey shows a simple “thank-you” will also win over employees. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective nonmonetary reward. Regular communication was the second most common response, given by 20 percent of employees and 36 percent of CFOs.

The surveys were developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. They were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees and 536 full- or part-time office workers.

To gain the perspectives of executives and employees, both groups were asked about the best nonmonetary ways to motivate staff: “Other than financial rewards, which one of the following is the most effective means of motivating employees?” Their responses:

  CFOs Employees
Frequent recognition of accomplishments 30% 35%
Regular communication with staff 36% 20%
Giving employees increased responsibility 20% 17%
Off-site team-building and social events 8% 10%
More time off/holidays/paid time off 0% 1%
Flexible work schedule/flextime 0% 0%
Something else 1% 5%
None/nothing else motivates 1% 1%
Don't know    4%  11%
  100% 100%

“No amount of team-building events or other perks can compensate for a manager personally thanking employees for a job well done,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Individuals want to know their work is appreciated and makes a difference.”

While extra time off and flexible schedules help employees maintain work/life balance, they didn’t rank as top motivators. “These incentives are valuable in increasing loyalty over the long term, but there is no substitute for inspiring employees on a daily basis through words and actions,” Messmer said.

Accountemps has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at

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