The Power of Appreciation

In most cases, a remark like this “the company’s success is a direct result of your efforts. We hope that you know how valuable and important you are to this organisation’s mission!” will really show an employee that their input is highly valued and appreciated by their superiors. One should never underestimate the value of such observations.

According to a recent Haiilo study, 69% of employees believe that they would work more if they felt more appreciated at work. What an insight into what motivates people. In this context the focus is solely placed on “giving credit where credit is due” monetary incentives are not even mentioned. Sadly, it also intimates that most of these employees currently do not believe that their input is valued, which means they are likely questioning the meaning behind their work and will inevitably consider leaving the organisation.

A sense of meaning and belonging

Since Covid, we have observed a huge increase in the importance of these factors in people’s lives. Many are no longer prepared to commute for several hours per day unless they can recognise a greater value in what they are doing. In fact, many people have already changed jobs to focus on something which means more to them even if they have had to accept a lower revenue and/or other restrictions. If an employee has the impression that a report they produce is never read, it is hardly surprising that they no longer see the point of investing hours of work to produce it. Some may resort to a form of presenteeism: let’s wait and see what happens if I no longer produce this report. Others become totally disillusioned and either leave the company or fall ill (or both). In each case, it is tragic that potential is wasted in this way.

What provides a sense of meaning and belonging?

There is no global response to this question, as so much depends on individual characteristics and personal motivational factors. However, in general if a manager or team leader shows an active interest in their employee’s work and can determine the “right” way to encourage them, this will already make a vast impact. Some people prefer to work autonomously, but this does not preclude their superior from offering praise and thanks for a task particularly well carried out. Other people rely on daily interaction to define their tasks and only flourish under close guidance. It may require a higher level of empathy and observation by their superior to gauge what each team member needs, but the benefits reaped will make this exercise more than worthwhile.

How often do we read on social media, “employees leave managers, not companies”. The reasons behind this are not difficult to discern. A constant feeling of lack of appreciation no matter how hard you try, will wear down the most motivated employee and inevitably lead to negative consequences. To quote Forbes , “Employees who feel heard are more likely to perform better at work”.

How can appreciation be shown?

First and foremost, it must be genuine and well-founded. A standard phrase, rolled out after the smallest action will not make any employee feel valued – on the contrary. A manager must therefore have a good insight into what their employees are capable of, which current challenges they are facing and when it is best to express appreciation. For some, a word of praise in mid-project will reassure an employee that they are on the right track and encourage them to dig deeper. Others will prefer feedback when the final result is apparent and more tangible. No matter when it is given, feedback should always be specific and fair.

The language used and context chosen are also of great importance. Some will enjoy basking in the limelight at a team meeting, whereas others will feel uncomfortable with this type of appreciation. Once again, the manager must demonstrate that (s)he knows what makes his/her people tick. An appropriate level of personal contact can make a world of difference, therefore it is important for the manager to have good communication and good interpersonal skills.

Does my employer care about my well-being?

According to Gallup , only 23% of employees believe that their employer really cares about their well-being. Does this really mean that most companies do not value their most valuable asset: their people? This is unlikely, it is important to dig deeper and identify the root cause, which could vary from company culture to lack of competencies, skills, time or support. Inadequate communication could also be at the root of the issue.

How can an employer show due care? By permitting flexible working hours, by financing a canteen, by organising yoga classes? Once again there is no one single solution; the key to success undoubtedly lies in asking employees and listening to what they say. By providing suitable measures to minimise stress and promote wellbeing, an employer will experience lower turnover and absenteeism levels, higher net promoter scores and even improved customer satisfaction.

The effect on company culture

All these factors combine to form part of the company culture, they are comparable with the glue holding pieces of a puzzle together. Managers need to judge how much “glue” they need to apply to their teams to encourage them to reach their personal and professional potential. A team of thriving employees who are appreciated and feel valued will work well together with the additional boost of positive emotions resulting from a sense of belonging. As a result, they can but be engaged and make significant contributions to their employer.

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