It’s no longer a mystery. Valuing employees in the workplace has been proven by numerous studies to create fantastic results. Employees who feel valued have increased motivation in the workplace, greater commitment, and show greater levels of innovation. But that leaves many leaders searching for ideas and ways to best show their appreciation.
Here is a quick guide to help any leader show they value their people. It’s 10 easy steps that can help you create a better work environment, create better work life balance, improve motivation, show gratitude, inspire team members, bolster employee satisfaction, set goals, strengthen long-term relationships, practice employee recognition, increase production, and boost your bottom line.
1. Think positive. 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 offer. Take notice of your thinking. As a leader, a slight shift in your thinking can make a tremendous impact on whether or not your people feel valued.
2. Seek input. When you ask employees for their ideas you not only gain perspective, insights, and possibly solutions, but you also might discover how that employee feels about his or her role. Seek input often. Your people will feel valued that you want their insightful contributions.
3. Communicate clearly and often. Most of us think of job satisfaction is a statement that defines a person’s relationship with the tasks they perform. But, research shows that most people who quit their jobs cite, “lack of recognition” as their reason for leaving—not boredom, frustration, or to do something new. If you’re not communicating, your people will make assumptions about how you view their efforts. And, you saying nothing doesn’t typically translate in their minds as ‘good job.’ In fact, it typically translates as ‘they don’t like me.’
4. Encourage effort. Motivation in the workplace doesn’t happen without encouragement. And, employees feel valued when their effort (you know, all that sweat and hard work that happens before results are created) is acknowledged and encouraged. Become the cheerleader for employees. Sometimes it requires a tremendous amount of energy before a goal is reached. That effort needs to be applauded along the way.
5. Reward results. There are numerous ways to show appreciation for both large and small results—a pat on the back, a sincere thank you letter, a small gift, or juicy bonus. Here’s the important part though: employees will feel valued when the reward is on par with the result. An employee who creates a huge win for the organization won’t feel valued if the reward is small and seems insincere.
6. Facilitate growth and opportunity. Show gratitude toward your team members by truly becoming an advocate for their growth. As a leader, develop a ‘mentorship program’ mentality. Become the person who eliminates hurdles, opens doors, and helps people rise to become their best. When they see you care about their continued growth and opportunity—even if that means they’ll rise out of your department—they will feel valued, and they’ll remember you long into the future.
7. Celebrate careers. Careers are different than job titles. Valuing employees in the workplace means also valuing all the experience, insight, and advice they’ve gained that helps them be their best in their current role and helps your team. Celebrate the years of service they give to you, and the years of experience they’ve gained 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 expertise brings to the world.
8. Care about wellbeing. This may be both the most powerful and most overlooked way to show appreciation and motivate employees in the workplace. Why? Think about it. By showing an employee that you actually care about their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing, you’re basically proving that you care about them personally, rather than just caring about the results they create.
9. Connect to purpose. This might seem like an odd choice for showing employees they are valued. Often times, leaders believe the organizational purpose is something the employees should connect with, rather than the opposite. The key here is not to focus on the word purpose, but instead spotlight the word ‘connect.’ Employees feel more valued, and display more motivation in the workplace if, and when, they understand their exact role in the greater purpose. When they understand how their efforts play a part in something much bigger than themselves, they feel more valued by their leaders and by their organization.
10. Give them a break. One of the best ways to show appreciation for a job well done is to allow people time to pause—first pausing to celebrate their work, and second pausing to rejuvenate their energy, motivation, and passion. For small wins, encourage people to take small breaks—because sitting at a desk all day, every day, has been proven to be unhealthy. For big wins, and huge undertakings, encourage a longer break—a day to spend with family or friends to make up for all those extra hours at the office, or even longer if the project was excruciating. This makes employees feel valued because it shows you care about them, want to reward them, and that you appreciate them when they’re fully charged.
As leaders, we cannot control the way an employee feels at work. We cannot demand engagement, job satisfaction, or motivation in the workplace. We cannot demand that any employee feels valued. Nevertheless, we can provide all of things research reveals employees say they want from a leader, a company, and a culture to feel valued at work. And, that last sentence should make any leader take notice, because if your people believe you’re not valuing employees in the workplace, eventually they’ll find a leader who does—a leader who truly appreciates their energy, effort, and results.
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