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Appreciation Matters.

Employee appreciation is important. It comes in many different forms. And it is potentially the cheapest ways to increase employee engagement, productivity, and decrease turn-over rate.

Recognition is cyclical: the appreciation improves job performance, and in turn, the improved job performance prompts supervisors to give more positive. Unfortunately, it’s an underused tool. 99.4% of employees expect to be recognized when they do good work; however, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number-one reason people leave their jobs is because they "do not feel appreciated."

Employee appreciation can be formal – things like recognition banquets, etc. Or it can be informal – like distinguishing someone at a staff meeting, or giving a spur of the moment compliment when “catching someone doing good”. It can be public or personal, written, verbal, or electronic.

Employee recognition can be a significant expense when done monetarily with raises, bonuses, or trips, but in research, 63% of participants ranked a “pat on the back” as meaningful to them. 60.3% of respondents stated that non-monetary recognition helped them achieve their goals, and 77.7% were more productive because of recognition. In a survey consisting of 65 different workplace incentives, the incentive that scored highest among research participants was personal praise from their manager for a job well done.

According to Maritz Research (2008) only 12% of questioned employees strongly agree that they are being consistently recognized in meaningful ways. Why? First of all, too few managers incorporate regular praise into their workplaces – reasons might include fearing the employee will see it as insincere, not having an accurate understanding of its importance, not knowing the best way, not having time. Secondly, the workforce is comprised of varying behavior styles with different motivators, so just because a certain type of recognition worked for one employee, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for others.

Research shows over and over again that employees don’t leave the workplace; they leave their managers. Turnovers and unproductive employees cost the workplace astronomical amounts. The managers can’t afford to NOT recognize their employees. It doesn’t have to take much time to send an email, stop by someone’s desk, or give a handwritten note, and most importantly, find out what is meaningful to each person.

Are you ready to start the positive cycle in your workplace? Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Have a conversation with your staff explaining that you are trying to make some improvements as a leader. You hope they will see a difference, and you would like feedback.

  2. Do some investigating into your employees’ motivators. This can be a Driving Force assessment that each employee takes, or it can be as simple as giving a note card to each employee in your department asking for ways each employee appreciates recognition. Keep that list nearby, and access it when the opportunity to give praise arises.

  3. Be specific in your praise. Generalities come across as insincere. In addition, when you choose a behavior to positively target, the employee will understand how important it is to continue that behavior.

  4. Be as quick as you can.The longer you wait to praise, the less significant the praise seems.

  5. Be as positive as you can. Try to stay away from statements that diminish the meaning of your praise. For example, “You did a great job on that presentation, but I really want you to work harder on your enthusiasm.”

  6. Don’t wait for perfection. Praise improvements and approximations. You will get the desired results sooner.

Your employee should know that you saw what he or she did, that you appreciated it, why it’s important, and how it made you feel.Effective employers make their ratio of praise to criticism six to one, six positive recognitions for every one negative or corrective comment.

If you would like help in this area, Nikki Penn Counseling & Consulting can provide a free consultation on tools available for your workplace.

Bacal, Robert (2011). 2nd ed. McGraw Hill. New York, New York.

Nelson, Bob (2017).

Maritz Institute (2008). Papers/Motivation/White_Paper_The_Science_of_Giving_Recognition1

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