A kind word not only means more to employees than cash - it can increase overall productivity through staff retention, according to the results of a recent Morgan & Banks survey.
Employees said they prefer acknowledgement and full appreciation for work done instead of good wages.
Recruiter Morgan & Banks conducted the survey asking employees from a variety of organisations to rank their wants from work, and also asked managers their view of what employees want from work.
The conclusion: startling results, which show managers out of touch with their staff after placing good wages, job security, and promotion and growth' in the top three places for what they think employees want from work.
The employees, it appears, are less fussy about good wages, ranking this as number five, with "full appreciation for work done, sympathetic understanding of personal problems and feeling in on things" as their top three wants from work.
John Banks, director of Morgan & Banks, said keeping people happy is important. "Retaining staff is important because a high level of staff turnover is an expensive exercise for companies.
"A new person to an organisation isn't as productive for the first two to three months as someone who has been there for two to five years," he said.
The contrast in results between the managers and their employees, according to Banks, is because managers aren't taking as much notice as they should or allocating enough time to the people issues within an organisation.
"Managers and the workplace have become busy, there has been lots of change in the workplace in the number of areas driven by customers demanding services and products, and organisations are looking at delivering these services and products," Banks said.
He suggests managers step back and take a look at the people issues, adding that it is important managers pay attention to the social and psychological issues of staff.
"Most managers believe that throwing more money at the employees solves the issues and problems; statistics show it is recognition and trust and the like that create a harmonious and happy workplace. Getting a bonus is nice but it doesn't make you as an employee be recognised. Sometimes wouldn't you rather a pat on the back?" Banks said.
And Banks believes highly technical people aren't always the best people managers - or choices for people skills.
"In some cases because in IT we tend to focus on technical issues, and deploy highly technical people with a high level of technical expertise, their people skills might not be as highly tuned as their technical expertise," he said.
Banks says managers need to encourage employees to apply for jobs within their own organisation.
A quick and easy solution to discovering issues that might be occurring in the workplace and to solve people skill problems according to Banks, is for managers to ask their staff for feedback.
"When anyone leaves, managers should go through process to see why they are leaving. Interviewing leavers is an easy method that allows you to capture a lot of information and insight into the organisation's management structure and culture within business."
Banks also suggest managers conduct regular surveys with employees. "It makes both the employees and managers feel better that they've had a say and allows managers to know what they are doing right and wrong as far as their people are concerned."
Managers have just got to say "I'm open to criticism, I want this to be a happy workplace, so let's all do something about it", Banks added.