Almost four in ten people (38 per cent) say that being picked out for praise meant more than a pay increase or a step higher in their career ladder.
However, 16 per cent of employees that were surveyed say that they have never been shown any gratitude by their bosses, the poll has found.
The research also discovered that the "rewards" that motivate employees the most at work, differ across the country.
For 27 per cent of London workers, an early work finish is what motivates them the most.
However, for 22 per cent of workers in Newcastle, the best thanks they could ask for in the workplace would be having a cup of tea made for them.
People in Yorkshire are most interested in promotion (48 per cent) and by the same 48 per cent, Wales are most motivated by money.
The poll was carried out by Optical Express as part of its Thanks A Million campaign, donating £1million worth of laser eye surgery to NHS and emergency services workers.
The fund for surgery will be available to NHS nurses, doctors, fire fighters and the police.
The initiative was founded following a national survey, which found that people who dedicate their lives to public service "are most deserving of our thanks."
HR manager at Optical Express, Dawn Kondol, said: ". . . we'd like to acknowledge everything they do for the British public – who agree that these professions are most deserving of our thanks and appreciation."