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How to triple engagement and motivate people without spending money

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How to triple engagement and motivate people without spending money

By David Leaser

What’s better? Giving an employee a raise or a pat on the back? Turns out it’s the pat on the back.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute recently published a terrific whitepaper using a sample of more than 19,000 workers in 26 countries in thousands of different organizations across all major job families in a cross-section of industries. The study generated several important insights you need to know:

The engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the engagement level of those who do not

When employees receive recognition for good work, their engagement level is as high as 76 percent. However, engagement falls to 28 percent among employees with no recognition.


Workers who receive recognition are less likely to quit

Without recognition, about half (51 percent) of surveyed employees say they intend to leave, with recognition just one quarter (25 percent) say they intend to leave their organizations.


The more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement level. Engagement scores rise from 52 percent when none of the identified channels are used for recognition, up to 85 percent when four or more different channels are used for recognition, a 33 percentage point increase.


The findings in the study imply that technologies such as social and mobile are essential as they offer interactive, frequent and immediate recognition. That’s why it is important to create a program which allows employers and employees to broadcast accomplishments everywhere, like social media.

Idea: Give recognition with digital badges

IBM’s Open Badge Program is a winning example of the perfect marriage between social media, recognition and accreditation. This short video and infographic show the significant results we are achieving with the program. Open Badges are quickly emerging as an industry standard to recognize achievements and nurture and progress talent.

See how Open Badges work – earn an IBM badge today!

The world of digital online credentials is changing, and IBM is leading the way in the IT industry. Find out how you can benefit from this important new program when you go to IBM’s Open Badge site. You can earn badges for free – today – by completing courses at or for publishing IBM-related work with the developerWorks Author Achievement Recognition Program. Or attend a class, a workshop or a MOOC. Go to for a list!

David Leaser is the Senior Program Manager, Innovation and Growth Initiatives in IBM’s Global Skills Initiative. Leaser developed IBM’s first cloud-based learning solution and is the author of a number of thought leadership white papers on talent development, including “Migrating Minds” and “The Social Imperative in Workforce Development.” Leaser has trained more than 4,000 clients and developed more than 30 technology training manuals and video tutorials. You can reach David on LinkedIn or Twitter @david_leaser.

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