Today, Workhuman® presents the latest revelations from its ongoing UK Human Workplace Index (HWI) survey, a comprehensive study focusing on full-time UK employees. As the festive season approaches, Workhuman’s most recent UK HWI survey has brought to light surprising trends in the world of work. This includes the significant impact of recognition supported by rewards on employee satisfaction and motivation, as well as workplace expectations when it comes to employee experience, working hours and more.

Importance of tangible rewards

Unsurprisingly, previous UK HWI research shows that 94% of employees are more likely to put in extra effort when they are appreciated and acknowledged for their work. However, nearly half of survey respondents (47%) find a simple thank you without a tangible reward less fulfilling. This suggests that verbal recognition alone, while important, may not fully meet the expectations and desires of a substantial portion of employees. Consequently, to enhance employee satisfaction and motivation, organisations should consider incorporating rewards into their recognition strategies.

Other than pay, gift vouchers emerging as the most sought-after reward as recognition for their work, closely followed by experiential rewards. This may be due to a preference for reward programmes that offer flexibility, enabling employees to select items that they personally value. Likewise, experiential rewards may be favoured because they allow employees to choose activities, outings or trips that align with their individual interests and can be more meaningful and personally fulfilling than traditional material rewards.


This data highlights the importance of recognising and rewarding employees effectively, as a driving force for engagement and productivity in the modern workplace. Data from Workhuman and Gallup found that only 10% of employees strongly agree they have been asked by someone at their current workplace how they like to be recognised, revealing a need for leadership to put the power of choice in the hands of their employees.

Communication and collaboration

Additionally, the survey delves into how various generations communicate and collaborate within their work environments. Across Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z, face-to-face communication remains the preferred method of interaction at work, closely followed by email.

Communicating by phone is the least popular method for everyone, but particularly for Gen Z, with only 4% stating it is their preferred way to communicate at work. Opinions on having a camera on during video calls vary across generations, with 30% of Boomers stating it’s never OK to have their camera off during a video call, compared to just 10% of Gen Z and 17% of Millennials.

When it comes to working outside of contracted hours, close to 40% of Gen Z workers are fine with doing so if they are compensated for it. Across generations, supporting your team is the top reason to work outside of contracted hours, apart from additional pay. For Gen Z, though, the top reason is their extra effort being recognised and rewarded. Notably, one in three Millennials feel they should not be asked to work outside of contracted hours, full stop. What’s more, a significant portion of respondents – nearly 30% – believe it’s appropriate to send work emails at any time.

“These findings provide much needed insights into the communication preferences of difference groups in the workplace and help us understand how recognition can best impact workplace satisfaction and motivation,” says Dr Meisha-Ann Martin, Senior Director, People Analytics and Research, Workhuman. “The results from Workhuman’s UK HWI survey should prompt organisations to reflect on how best to use recognition and rewards to cultivate a positive and productive work environment for everyone.”