(From PRNewswire) -- Bersin & Associates, a membership-based company empowering human resources, talent and learning organizations to drive bottom-line impact through world-class research and advisory services, today announced new research that shows companies with recognition programs highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective recognition programs. The findings, which appear in a new research report The State of Employee Recognition in 2012, indicate that recognition plays a much more measureable role in business performance than previously believed. 

Summarized in a WhatWorks market brief titled "Turning Thank You into Performance," the findings are consistent with recent foundational research on high-impact performance management that is designed to help Bersin & Associates members drive stronger employee and business results. That research found that in organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14 percent better than in those where recognition does not occur.

"Today's $46 billion market for recognition, with its focus on tenure-based programs, clearly is failing, and is out of sync with modern employment practices," said Josh Bersin, Chief Executive Officer and President, Bersin & Associates. "This new research highlights a huge opportunity for companies to redirect existing expenditures to programs that significantly influence engagement and retention. The findings also suggest that recognition programs should align with an organization's comprehensive performance management strategy to drive business results."

The new recognition research is based on the results of two online surveys of 834 organizations conducted between January and May 2012. It also includes more than 30 research interviews with HR and talent management professionals.

Only 17 percent of employees who participated in the Bersin & Associates study indicated that their organizations' cultures strongly support recognition. This lack of effectiveness is largely driven by the misdirected nature of most recognition programs: 87 percent of organizations reported that their programs are designed to recognize service or tenure. These programs do not meet the needs of today's employees, nearly 70 percent of whom report they are recognized annually or not at all.

The research shows that for employees, the most important elements of a recognition program are the ability to receive specific feedback and give recognition easily. This finding is underscored by the fact that the top reason employees do not recognize each other is because there is no established way to provide recognition.

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