Employee appreciation in the workplace leads to some big benefits.
Feeling valued at work increases more than just an employee’s job satisfaction. The influence of recognition and appreciation has a profound impact on the entire organization.
Appreciation in the workplace
- Improves employee engagement. When leaders fail to recognize and appreciate their people, employees are 42% less likely to be engaged.
- Boosts productivity. There is an 18x increase in the probability of great work when employees are recognized at work.
- Strengthens company culture. Employee recognition has a tremendous impact on the six essential elements of a thriving organizational culture:
- Helps to retain employees. Consistent appreciation and recognition can add 3.5 years to an employee’s tenure.
- Impacts bottom line results. Organizations that practice recognition effectively are 12x more likely to have strong business results like increases in shareholder return.
Unfortunately, only 61% of employees feel appreciated at work. Many companies default to compensation in order to help employees feel appreciated and stay, but while 80% of employers think employees leave for higher pay, only 12% of them actually do. Global studies reveal that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.
Surprising: While 80% of employers think employees leave for higher pay, only 12% of them actually do. 79% of people who quit their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.
How can leaders help employees feel valued at work? Here is a quick guide any leader can use to make employees feel irreplaceable and appreciated at work.
1. See the good.
Valuing employees in the workplace starts with a simple mindset shift. And, while it’s easy for many leaders to fall into the bad habit of only correcting negative behaviors, the best leaders actively search to see the positive change their people are making. Giving recognition doesn’t have to be hard—it’s the simple act of noticing the good people are doing at work. Pay attention to what your employees are accomplishing day-to-day. Say thanks, watch for great work and call it out, and celebrate success to create a more positive workplace culture. Leader acknowledgement can be a powerful thing.
When employees develop strong connections with their leaders, they are:
- 11x more likely to stay with the organization for at least another year
- 3x more likely to stay with the organization for three more years
- More likely to rate higher on Talent Magnets (purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership)
2. Seek employee input.
Employee appreciation comes when leaders truly care what employees think. When you ask employees for their ideas you not only gain perspective, insights, and possibly solutions, but you also discover how that employee feels about their role. Seek input often. It communicates that you see your employees as authorities in their roles. Encourage others to go to your employees as subject matter experts. Your people will feel valued knowing that you and others want to hear their insightful opinions and thoughts.
When people at an employee’s organization come to them for help, there is a 40% increase in feelings of appreciation and 59% increase in engagement.
3. Be specific.
Acts of appreciation at work should detail what the employee did that made a difference. General, transactional appreciation isn’t meaningful or effective. Give genuine recognition for both measurable criteria (results, metrics, great work) as well as intangible behaviors (creativity, having a positive attitude, helping out a team member, staying late to complete a project, etc.). Be specific about what you appreciate, and connect it back to your organization’s purpose and values (for more ideas on how, use these employee appreciation quotes).
70% of employees say recognition is most meaningful when it’s personalized.
4. Encourage effort.
Not sure what to appreciate? Start by encouraging employees and their day-to-day efforts. Employees feel valued when their efforts are acknowledged along the way. Sometimes work requires a tremendous amount of energy before a goal is reached, so be sure to cheer employees on. Encouraging effort during a project enables more timely appreciation than waiting until the end. eCards through your company’s employee recognition platform are an easy, quick, and fun way to encourage effort.
5. Reward results.
There are numerous ways to show appreciation for both large and small results—a sincere thank you letter, a small gift, or a more substantial employee reward. Here’s the important part: the award is a critical part of the recognition experience, and employees will feel more valued when the award is personal to them. And employees have different preferences when it comes to how they want to be appreciated and what gifts or awards they receive. If you have a flexible employee recognition program like Culture Cloud, use it to recognize results and easily give employee recognition awards and points that let employees choose a gift they’ll love.
The awards employees most prefer to reward results are (in no particular order):
- Experiential gifts
- Merchandise gifts
- Custom or personalized symbolic awards
- Cash or gift cards
6. Celebrate careers.
This isn’t just recognizing their number of years of service. Valuing employees in the workplace means also valuing all the experience, insight, and expertise they’ve gained that helps them be their best in their current role and also helps your team. Celebrate their years of contributions throughout their career. Celebrate the whole person—the value they bring to the organization, the value their personality brings to the team, and the value their work brings to the world. An employee recognition solution like Culture Cloud enables companies to create personal, memorable career celebrations.
7. Help employees be seen and grow.
Show gratitude toward your team members by truly becoming an advocate for their growth. Employee recognition can help with visibility and career development by allowing employees to shine. Showcase their accomplishments and great work through your company’s intranet or Wall of Fame so others will see their value. Highlight their unique talents and skills so they have the opportunity to network with others and be invited to work on special projects to elevate their careers—even if that means they’ll eventually rise out of your department. Employees will feel valued, and they’ll remember your support and mentorship long into the future.
8. Show you value them for who they are.
Employees aren’t just important because of the results they achieve. They matter because of who they are. Employee appreciation shows you value your employees for their unique, authentic selves. Each individual employee brings a set of unmatched experience, skills, perspectives, and insights to the work environment. Appreciating employees as individuals can build their sense of belonging in the workplace, because you acknowledge they are an integral part of your team and the organization.
Peer-to-peer recognition can play an important role in building that sense of belonging at work. There’s a 3x higher likelihood that employees will leave the company if they don’t feel connected to their teams. But when teams celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries together, the odds of an above average connection improve 11x. And when peers give recognition for great work and extra effort as a consistent part of the everyday culture, odds of above-average connection increase 15x.
54% of employees who left their jobs in the past 6 months did not feel valued by their organization and 51% lacked a sense of belonging.
“Recognition and appreciation are really an opportunity to show your employees they are seen, they are heard, and they are valued. It’s important to understand the value that each of your individual employees is bringing to the table and appreciate who they are as a person, both the impact they make and the character traits that contribute to the diversity and success of your teams.”
—Samantha Elliot, Total Rewards Programs Lead, BASF
9. Care about their entire employee experience.
Feeling valued at work is about more than just the work employees do. It’s about improving the entire employee experience: the employee’s work environment, work-life balance, their interaction with others, and their experience at work, every day. Create peak experiences for employees—memorable moments that bring deep, positive emotions—especially those that fulfill employee psychological needs of autonomy, mastery, and connection. When these three needs are met, employees are more likely to feel positive about their entire experience, be engaged, and do great work.
10. Build connections.
Employees feel most appreciated when you help them feel connected: to purpose, accomplishment, and one another. Communicate their exact role in your organization’s greater purpose—how they make a difference and contribute. And how they fit into their teams and the broader organization. When employees connect to organizational purpose, great work, and their teammates, they feel a higher sense of belonging at work. Successful companies show employees how their efforts play a part in something much bigger than themselves, so they feel more valued by their leaders and by their organization.
Modern leaders build connection
Empower leaders to show recognition at work
GE Appliances empowers their leaders to show appreciation and help employees feel valued. Previously, recognition was seen as compensation with cash awards, but GE Appliances wanted to move towards creating more meaningful recognition experiences for their people. So they launched Recognize YOU, a new appreciation program on the Culture Cloud platform that enables all employees and leaders to send eCards to appreciate effort and give award nominations to reward results. Leaders find it easy to send eCards and encourage peer-to-peer recognition.
Analysis of recognition data shows the Recognize YOU program generated a substantial impact. When employees use the program to send or receive recognition, they were more likely to feel positive about leaders and the company:
They were also more likely to stay—likelihood of attrition decreased 58% when an employee received any type of recognition in the prior month.
The success of Recognize YOU came from the company empowering managers to recognize and appreciate their teams without the help of HR. Leaders own the entire reward and recognition experience and have the autonomy to make decisions about employee rewards. There are no barriers to creating whatever experiences they want for their people. Leader dashboards help managers understand who is being recognized and giving recognition on their teams, and leaders can use the platform to build their own campaigns for recognition.
“Recognition creates a culture of great leadership. It’s about being kind and part of being a good manager. It’s what makes our culture and business thrive,” says Jeremy Eaton, a manager at GE Appliances.
How to get started
As leaders, valuing employees in the workplace is an effective way to build teams and improve workplace culture so people do their best work and want to stay. Employee appreciation doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can start by simply noticing and acknowledging the great work your people are doing, every day.
If your company has an employee recognition program, use it often to regularly show appreciation to employees. Monetary or non-monetary eCards, award nominations, or your years of service program are all good ways to start showing employees you value them and their work. Recognition programs such as Culture Cloud allow you to give points and rewards when appropriate, but even a personal note of thanks can make a tremendous impact on how employees feel. Ask employees how they’d like to be appreciated and recognized. Build employee appreciation into your daily habits and work routines, and watch the magic happen.
When appreciation and employee recognition are an integrated part of the company culture, organizations are:
- 4x more likely to have highly engaged employees
- 2x more likely to have increased revenue over the past year
- 73% less likely to have layoffs over the past year
- 44% less likely to have employees suffering from burnout
*2021 Global Culture Report, O.C. Tanner Institute