Don’t Underestimate the Power of Appreciation

We all like to feel appreciated, yet how we want to be shown appreciation varies from person to person. Some people thrive on center-stage accolades, while others respond best to a quiet, heartfelt thank you. But everyone wants to be seen and valued.

Over the years, we have conducted hundreds of focus groups with employees during our culture assessments. During focus groups, we strive to uncover foundational elements of the culture. One of which is whether staff feel appreciated.

The Signs of Under Appreciation

Far too often, I hear from frontline employees and managers alike that they feel undervalued. Upon further probing, they tell us exactly what makes them feel that way. They mention things like:

  • Their ideas are not taken seriously
  • They are not thanked for their efforts
  • They are not kept informed of changes on the horizon
  • Their manager doesn’t know anything about them outside of their role at work

Unfortunately, many executives still believe money is the only (or primary) way to show appreciation. When that is the case, there are many missed opportunities.

Approaches to Recognition

We recently conducted focus groups where employees talked about feeling unappreciated. When we asked what would make them feel appreciated, most said they would be happy with a simple thank you from the manager. Yet when we brought this up to the executive team, we were met with eye-rolling and comments like, “They are here to do a job. Just do it. Why does everyone expect us to applaud their every move.”

The other reaction was, “We can’t afford a recognition program.” The assumption is that recognition means wage increases. Not so.

In their book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work – Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White explain the importance of understanding how individuals differ in their approaches to giving and receiving appreciation.

What’s the benefit of focusing on recognition? Managers who practice individualized approaches to recognition see higher engagement and lower turnover. Organizations that make appreciation a priority see higher productivity leading to better financial performance.

In module eight of Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave, we devote considerable time to recognition including what makes it meaningful. Hundreds of attendees report that they have gained a new outlook on the importance of recognition and have taken steps to make recognition a part of their culture.

There are many benefits to showing appreciation at work. Start taking steps today to create and sustain a culture of appreciation.

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