What we need from our bosses to succeed at work | Ladders

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New study shows what our bosses are not giving us at work

Employee engagement is the difference between seeing your work as a job or as a career. If you’ve ever worked in an office counting down the hours till you can clock out, you know this intimately. But a new comprehensive human resources study can now back you up with numbers.

In an Officevibe real-time data survey of 50,000 employees across 150 countries, the software company found that workers across the world needed the same core needs —which included recognition, feedback, personal growth, and work-life balance— met to succeed in the workplace and to stay happy at their jobs.

Recognition and feedback

Having your hard work acknowledged is key to feeling invested in your job. Too many employees, however, aren’t getting the recognition they need.

In fact, 63% of the employees surveyed believed that their work wasn’t being recognized. That’s nearly two-thirds of American workers walking around feeling invisible.

Not feeling appreciated is coupled with the equally discouraging feeling that no one cares enough to check what you’re doing. 32% of employees said they had to wait more than three months to get feedback.

This cloud of negativity and apathy is what causes employees to disengage and quit. More than half of employees in a Gallup study said they would jump ship for a new job that would give them more recognition and praise.

Employees and managers can fix this by offering positive reinforcement early and often. It’s an unlimited resource. There’s no cap to how much praise you can give.

A Harvard Business Review analysis even found that positive reinforcement makes more of a difference in employee relationships with managers than corrective criticism. Managers who only give negative feedback were seen as leaders who only saw what’s wrong. Employees started to think that their bosses were unfit to lead if they were unable to see the whole picture. The takeaway from all this: don’t withhold praise. It can only help you.

One more tip: don’t just say “good job.” That’s a generic Hallmark card version of praise. It’s more effective if you make it authentic and individualized to that person’s contributions to the company.

A chance to move up in their careers

New opportunities and challenges are how we keep growing in our careers. Unfortunately, over half of respondents in the survey said they didn’t have any career advancement opportunities. When you’re not getting these challenges for professional development, you start to get bored and feel stuck, and you’ll look at that recruiter’s email with more interest.

Work-life balance

23% percent of employees reported leaving work feeling exhausted.

When your body starts to break down because of a job, it begins to feel untenable to go on. Employers should encourage wellness programs, frequent vacations, and regular breaks to prevent this burnout.

Work culture

This one makes or breaks companies. How can you increase your company’s growth if your own employees don’t recommend the pace of your place?

Over 56% of employees surveyed in the study said they wouldn’t recommend their organizations as good places to work. They were more willing to recommend the company’s products rather than their own teams. Without that positive work culture, you have a corrosive attitude like the employees surveyed had—one that will erode any good will and job satisfaction.

These findings show that employee happiness begins with feeling invested in your job and that your company is invested in you. And not just in what you bring to the table as an employee, but you, the whole human.