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What These Experts Are Saying About Employee Appreciation

David Mizne
David Mizne

When was the last time you appreciated an employee?

When Emily says “Great job Phil!” to her direct report, that might make his day (and have Emily feel great, since sharing gratitude is proven to make those on the giving end also feel happier). But is that enough to have Phil feel motivated, engaged, and truly appreciated?

Let’s set a bit of context, since Emily’s seemingly innocent gesture can actually have the opposite impact:

1) Phil was overlooked for a promotion, which was given to Emily instead. Her appreciation comes across as condescension.

2) Phil slacked on the project, and Emily’s appreciation following a cursory glance now emboldens him to submit subpar work in the future.

3) If the project was exemplary, Emily’s appreciation following only a cursory glance might make Phil feel like the compliment was half-hearted, and not indicative of true appreciation for a high level of effort.

So how does one get employee appreciation right? When in doubt, check the internet. That’s what I did. Here are four informative articles so that the next time you recognize an employee’s performance, they are left feeling truly appreciated:

1. The Secret to Motivating Your Team

By: Katie Wolfe  

Some managers think that employee appreciation must be offered in tangible form, with a Starbucks gift card or a bonus. So they withhold words of recognition because they are concerned that employees will find them insufficient.

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According to this study by Bersin & Associates, “companies that provide ample employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that don’t”. Recognition also helps in building stronger organizations, since rewarded behaviors are often repeated.

But this isn’t the Oprah Winfrey show, and managers shouldn’t just dole out appreciations to everyone. Katie suggest waiting until the compliment is well deserved. Ubiquitous “participant trophies” are lame, whereas a well deserved MVP award makes people feel truly accomplished.

2. How Do You Say ‘Thank You’ to Employees?

By: John Scorza 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides 15 simple gestures for HR and company leaders to show gratitude. Here are three that really stand out:

1) Handwritten Notes. In the new millennium these have become a lost art, but are now more impactful than ever. Sending an email doesn’t take much effort, but writing a gratitude on paper for someone else? That’s unheard of. You may as well get them a puppy.

2) Public RecognitionHeather Bealle is Director of HR at SHRM’s Missouri office. She solicits “way to go” nominations from over 4000 employees in 62 offices and sends a companywide e-mail that includes who was selected and why. One person’s name is then randomly drawn for a $50 Visa gift card.

3) Rubber Chickens. When David Novak became president of KFC he gave away floppy rubber chickens and $100. David shares that employee performance improved, because people felt that their contributions mattered. People would sometimes cry when he gave them their chickens.

3. Here’s What It Will Take to Really Appreciate Your Employees

By: Paul White

Dr. White is co-author of Rising Above a Toxic WorkplaceHe performed research with employee groups all over the United States and discovered the four conditions that need to be present for employees to feel completely appreciated:

1) Communicate Regularly. This varies by workplace, and any cadence is fine so long as it’s more than once a year during an annual review.

2) Tailor to the Recipient. Some people like a fist-bump, while others prefer an email. Show additional gratitude by recognizing how each employee likes to be thanked.

3) Personal & Individualized. Relate your appreciation to the specific accomplishments of individual team members.

4) Be Genuine & Authentic. Your tone of voice, facial expressions and posture must match what is being conveyed verbally.

4. How to Boost Employee Engagement by Showing Appreciation

By: Undercover Recruiter

This post includes a slideshare with over 50 slides of statistics and advice for appreciating employees effectively. Here are some examples:

– Companies who have a strategic employee recognition program in place report 71%+ higher engagement levels among their staff, than companies without a program.

– Appreciation is proven to motivate employees who then invest more effort and enthusiasm in their work.

– Companies spending 1% or more of their payroll budget on recognition see an 85% lift in employee engagement.

Peer to peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.

Employee Appreciation can be done wrong, causing more harm than good. As a general rule, managers should frequently offer a genuine and specific thank you for work that deserves it. Just make sure that you’re speaking in a method and language that resonates. And if all else fails, try a rubber chicken. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock