Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. Working hard with little appreciation can easily lead to burnout or feeling like your work isn’t valued by leadership.
Despite this, however, many leaders aren’t prioritizing recognition. According to a Gallup and Workhuman report:
- 81% of leaders don’t consider recognition a strategic priority for their company
- 73% of senior leaders say their organization doesn’t train managers or other leaders in employee recognition
- The majority of leaders—approximately two-thirds—haven’t allocated a budget to recognition
Furthermore, according to research from Gallup, only one in three U.S. employees say they’ve received recognition for doing good work in the past week.
But why are recognition and appreciation so important, and how do you demonstrate it to your team?
Below is an analysis of the importance of appreciation and recognition, and ten steps you can take to show appreciation to your employees.
The Importance of Employee Appreciation
The value of employee appreciation is often understated. It’s easy to forget that something as simple as saying “thank you” or “good work” can make a big difference in someone else’s life.
When it comes to organizational culture, fostering an environment in which employees are regularly recognized and appreciated for their contributions can benefit the employees and the organization alike.
Gallup reports that when employees feel recognized, they’re:
- 5x more likely to feel connected to their organization
- 4x more likely to be engaged
- 3x more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty to their organization
- 5x more likely to see themselves at your organization long-term
- 4x more likely to recommend your organization to others
- 73% less likely to feel regularly burned out
- 56% less likely to be keeping an eye open for job opportunities elsewhere
- 44% more likely to thrive in both your organization and their life outside of work
Creating a culture of appreciation and recognition connects a team to the company’s culture, keeps them engaged, and reduces turnover. All of these benefits will ultimately positively impact the company’s bottom line.
So how do you go about actually showing this appreciation to your team? Below are ten ideas for demonstrating appreciation to employees.
10 Ideas for Showing Employee Appreciation
1. Get to Know Your Employees Personally
One of the most important factors of appreciation is its authenticity. Gallup’s research shows that the most impactful recognition is authentic and personalized.
That’s because everyone is different, and different employees have different recognition needs. For example, one employee might need public recognition, while others might find it embarrassing and prefer smaller gestures of appreciation.
In order to show this individualized appreciation to your employees, it’s important to actually get to know them. According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), there are several questions you should ask to determine your employees’ appreciation needs:
- How well do you know the people who report to you?
- What are your employees’ individual goals?
- What motivates and excites your employees about their work?
- What are some of their common challenges?
Demonstrating this individualized attention to your employees helps them feel valued as individuals, as well as appreciated for their contributions.
If you’re a C-level executive or in a similar leadership position and don’t have the capability to get to know every single employee, it’s also a good idea to train your managers to recognize and appreciate their employees. Ask them the above questions and challenge them to provide personalized attention to their team members.
And as always, it’s vital to lead by example.
2. Provide Both Recognition And Appreciation
It’s important to distinguish between employee recognition and appreciation and provide both to your team.
According to HBR, while similar, recognition and appreciation have the following differences:
- Recognition: Gratitude and positive feedback provided due to employees’ accomplishments or performance.
- Appreciation: Acknowledgement of employees’ inherent worth as colleagues and human beings.
In other words, recognition rewards accomplishments, whereas appreciation acknowledges who people are.
Recognizing employees can often take the form of financial rewards. For many, these incentives are sufficient reward to drive engagement. However, McKinsey data highlights that 55% of employee engagement is a result of non-financial recognition, such as verbal acknowledgment or appreciation.
3. Create a Culture of Recognition
To maximize the effectiveness of recognition and appreciation, it’s important to embed it into your organizational culture. Simply making it a checklist won’t produce lasting results, and won’t feel authentic or genuine.
Gallup recommends the following steps to transform your organizational culture into one that fosters appreciation:
- Ground your culture in goals and values that align with your business strategy
- Reflect your company’s goals and values in your recognition and appreciation strategy
- Continuously review and refine your recognition and appreciation strategy
- Promote recognition across your entire organization
Making sure your workplace culture is one that promotes recognition can maximize its benefits to your organization and employees alike.
4. Routinely Demonstrate Appreciation in Small Ways
Appreciation doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note can make a big difference, especially because it’s so unexpected.
HBR research shows that these simple gestures can have tremendous impacts on your employees, despite not being tied to a cash incentive.
Keep a stack of thank you notes handy and whenever you hear of anyone on your team who has achieved a milestone, completed a project or perhaps just shown true effort–write them a quick note. The few minutes spent on this task will garner an incredible amount of goodwill.
In addition, it’s important to take note of small accomplishments as well as big ones. It’s easy to acknowledge major milestones in employees’ careers, but according to Gallup research, 72% of employees who claim to have excellent recognition experiences say that performance for little accomplishments is frequently acknowledged at their organization.
This is especially true considering that different employees’ projects will have different impacts, so only recognizing big accomplishments can result in disparate recognition among employees.
5. Facilitate Social Interactions
A great way to show appreciation is by facilitating social interactions among employees. According to McKinsey research, these interactions are some of the strongest indicators of positive employee experience in an organization.
A separate McKinsey report highlighted that employees are craving human interaction in work, whether in-person or virtual. Interpersonal connections with managers and peers can improve employees’ sense of shared identity and help them feel valued.
Keep in mind that these interactions don’t have to be planned months in advance. While planned parties and events are fun, coordinating an impromptu happy hour at the end of a long week goes a long way.
If your team is virtual, coordinate a zoom meeting and encourage everyone to bring their beverage of choice, or consider sending a meal delivery gift card ahead of time so team members can order themselves lunch.
A shared virtual experience, such as those offered by Teamraderie, is an excellent way to facilitate these interactions.
6. Create a Psychologically Safe Environment
One of the best ways to improve overall employee experience and help them feel appreciated is to create a psychologically safe workplace.
Psychological safety is the belief that you can speak freely without fear of negative repercussions. According to HBR, psychological safety can help employees feel that their input is valuable and welcome, helping them feel appreciated and acknowledged.
By contrast, in a psychologically unsafe environment, employees won’t feel that they’re able to share their thoughts and opinions. This will stifle their creativity and prevent them from having the opportunity to be recognized and appreciated.
7. Give and Receive Balanced Feedback
Praise is important, and a key component of appreciation. However, the most authentic appreciation also acknowledges areas for improvement. If you aren’t proactively helping your employees grow and improve as professionals, your employees might feel that they aren’t truly valued members of your organization.
Worse, if you aren’t providing constructive feedback as well as praise, your employee might be making mistakes without knowing it. This will ultimately need to be addressed, and the longer you wait, the more difficult the feedback will be to hear.
In addition to giving feedback, however, it’s vital to be able to receive feedback openly. This is a key component of creating a psychologically safe work environment.
While it might not be comfortable at first for you or the employee, get deliberate about requesting feedback on your leadership. Be specific. Let employees know that you value their input on a project or that you want to make sure you’re supporting them in ways that are meaningful.
Demonstrating a little vulnerability will humanize the employee-manager relationship and create a meaningful connection between leaders and employees.
8. Empower Employees to Share Their Accomplishments
People like to be recognized for what they’re proud of.
If an employee completes a project that they worked hard on and they’re proud of the result, neglecting to acknowledge this accomplishment will likely result in discouragement.
According to HBR, a great way to prevent this discouragement is to empower your employees to share their accomplishments. Some questions you can ask your employees include:
- What projects have you been working on recently?
- Is there anything you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of?
- Is there something you’re working on that you’re excited about?
- What are some of your toughest challenges and how are you handling them?
These conversations can take place at any point and in any location, not just during set meeting times.
Keep in mind that completing projects isn’t the only thing your team should be recognized for. If there are areas of struggle that your employees are working on overcoming, acknowledging small victories in that area can be just as impactful.
9. Invest in Your Employees
While verbal acknowledgement is key to morale and motivation, it’s also important to acknowledge that financial incentives can be excellent sources of motivation as well.
Consider developing a program focused on recognizing employees for professional achievements, such as work anniversaries (one year, five year, ten year, etc.) and promotions.
You might consider tying a monetary award to such milestones or perhaps offering additional time off. Pair this with a note from the CEO, and employees will look forward to achieving these milestones, increasing both retention and productivity.
One of the most strategic ways to show employee appreciation is by offering a competitive benefits package. While compensation is undoubtedly important, having a well-rounded benefit package can both attract and retain great colleagues.
Consider increasing a 401(k) match, adding infertility benefits, or increasing the amount of time off for new parents. Review your benefit offerings each year, and make changes to support the growing needs of your workforce.
Actively communicating and celebrating these changes demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of your workforce.
10. Involve Leadership
While it’s always nice to receive praise from those with whom you work closely, receiving words of appreciation from those outside your immediate orbit have a huge impact.
Data from Gallup reveals that employees list the following sources as the most impactful when it comes to recognition:
- 28%: An employee’s direct manager or supervisor
- 24%: A high-level leader, executive, or CEO
- 12%: An employee’s manager’s manager
- 10%: A customer or client
- 9%: Peers and colleagues
If you’re a leader who sees employee appreciation as a retention tool, start by engaging in the practice yourself and getting deliberate about showing appreciation to your own direct reports.
Keep in mind that managers also benefit as recipients of appreciation, and are arguably the least likely to get it.
Facilitate Team Appreciation With Teamraderie
Teamraderie is here to support you in showing your employees how much you appreciate them.
Our Recognizing Strengths experience is an excellent way to begin demonstrating appreciation for your team. In this live, interactive virtual workshop, your team will be given the opportunity to both give and receive positive feedback.
Appreciation is the most impactful when embedded into your company culture. Beyond simply giving your team a virtual experience, Teamraderie Enterprise is a complete approach to achieving and sustaining strong team morale at a global scale.
Show your team how much you appreciate them while building skills and connection for a thriving workplace. Consider booking one of our experiences to demonstrate your commitment to your workforce.