Digging Deeper to Find Solid Gold

Digging Deeper to Find Solid Gold - People Development Network
Digging Deeper to Find Solid Gold - People Development Network

For more than a century, a rare treasure lay in a California couple’s backyard in Sierra, Nevada. One beautiful February day in 2013, as they headed out for their daily hike with their dog, they made an incredible discovery – there in the moss, they noticed a rusty can lid, and in that can, there were  $20 gold coins. Not only was there one can, but upon closer examination, they found there were five more!  Each was filled with uncirculated gold coins dating from the late 1800’s, a total of 1400 coins, for a total value of over $10 million US dollars.

(If you are interested in seeing the coins, or even obtaining one, they are currently available on Amazon.)

Just like the couple that had solid gold unknowingly buried right beneath them leaders often have their own “gold” buried underfoot, in their organizations, in the form of talented, committed employees. Often, this gold hides away, ignored, unearthed – but leaders can learn how to pull it out of the rusty can in the dirt and let it shine.

In my Great Boss Assessment, only 51% of 345 global respondents agree that their leader regularly honors their efforts as well as their accomplishments. That means that 49% of respondents do not receive such recognition. In response to another Great Boss Assessment item, “This leader regularly gives credit, thanking team members for ideas, efforts, recovery, and delivery,” nearly 55% agreed. That means that 45% do not receive frequent credit or thanks for such contributions.

The research on employee recognition is consistent: most employees say they are not thanked for their contributions. Josh Bersin’s 2012 research found that 87% of recognition programs in organizations today focus on tenure, not contribution (!). Upon digging deeper, Bersin’s researchers discovered that tenure-based rewards systems have virtually no impact on organizational performance.

His researchers did find that companies that scored in the top 20% in what he calls a “recognition-rich culture” had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates. These companies’ talented, engaged employees did not leave on their own – they stayed, contributed more, and felt more appreciated.

Bersin’s research shows that the number one reason why people leave organizations is that of a lack of recognition at work.

How can you address this issue in your team? Good things happen in your team and company all the time, every day. Notice these good things and express gratitude for them. Celebrate them!

Create a culture where leaders thank their people, often – for their skills, their contributions, their teamwork, their attempts, and their results.

Create a culture where peers thank their peers, often – and cooperative interaction is more frequent than the competition.

Have fun with recognition. Sometimes a pizza lunch (have a salad available, too!) is more appreciated than a certificate.

Your talented, engaged employees will stay, contribute, and enjoy an inspiring work environment.

What do you think? How do your leaders express gratitude to the “solid gold” team members in your organization? Are effort and contribution noted? Add your comments, insights, or questions below.


S Chris Edmonds

S Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration. He writes books and articles and records podcasts. In his free time, he's a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.
S Chris Edmonds

Latest posts by S Chris Edmonds (see all)

Leave a Reply