A person's hand is holding a piece of paper with thank you written on it.
Image: © tomertu/Stock.adobe.com

A simple ‘thank you’ could do wonders for workplace stress

7 Jan 2020

A new study from Workhuman suggests that workers around the world place value on gratitude and recognition.

Irish-founded technology company Workhuman has published a new survey looking at the future of work. The purpose of the survey, the company said, is to give “people leaders and executives a glimpse at the future of work, as told from the perspectives of the humans in our organisations”.

In particular, Workhuman’s 2019 International Employee Survey Report, entitled The Future of Work is Human, found that contributing factors to work-related stress included insufficient recognition from senior staff and a lack of faith in annual performance review processes.

The survey – the 11th of its kind – was directed by Workhuman’s Analytics and Research Institute in June 2019 and is based on answers from 3,500 fully employed people in Ireland, the UK, Canada and the US.

Checking in is key to building trust

In the past four years, according to the report, the number of organisations implementing annual or six-monthly performance reviews with staff has been steadily decreasing. The number has fallen from more than 80pc in 2016 to 54pc last year.

Although more than half of employees surveyed were sceptical about the efficacy of these reviews – believing them to have no impact on their performance afterwards – Workhuman cited the importance of having reviews in place. That’s because, the company said, workers who check in with their manager more frequently reported higher levels of trust, respect and engagement.

Increased recognition, less stress

Receiving more appreciation from managers was the top thing those surveyed by Workhuman wished for when asked. Almost two-thirds of respondents agreed on this point, ahead of the other options such as career development, more independence and more opportunities for learning new skills.

In all the regions surveyed, Workhuman found that greater amounts of recognition and appreciation instilled in employees a higher level of gratitude and a lower level of stress.

Respondents were asked to rate their stress levels between zero to 100, with zero being the least stressed and 100 being the most stressed. The results saw Ireland come second on the list with an overall score of 55 out of 100. It was behind the UK, which received a score of 53, and ahead of Canada and the US, which both scored 58.

Digging deeper into the findings, Workhuman said that the highest stress levels reported among Irish workers were from those who either had never been recognised for their work or who hadn’t been recognised in the past two years.

“The results of this study show a clear and consistent link between increased gratitude and less stress, as well as greater trust and respect. Prioritising gratitude in the workplace creates a culture that’s not only good for business, but for the people who power them,” said Lynette Silva, principal consultant at Workhuman.

Meaningful work ahead of money and perks

When it comes to the benefits associated with working life, from bonuses to opportunities for progression, the responses were similar across all age groups, according to Workhuman.

Ahead of factors such as positive company culture, compensation, a supportive manager and a fun team, most respondents to the survey cited meaningful work as the most important element of their careers.

When it comes to top workplace perks, remote and flexible work was highlighted by 41pc of respondents, followed by healthcare cover (27pc). Both benefits ranked far higher than on-site perks such as free food (6pc), an office gym (6pc) and on-the-job training (4pc).

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading