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From Recognition to Retention: Employee Appreciation is Key!

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” William James


What is appreciation at work?

Appreciation at work involves feeling recognized, valued, and appreciated for the effort you put into your job. Recognition and appreciation are closely related but a little different.

  • Recognition focuses primarily on performance or the achievement of certain goals. It is based on what a person does.

  • Appreciation focuses on the value of the individual employee and who the person is.

  • Both are important, but appreciation is king! University of California at Berkley found a 43% increase in productivity when employees feel valued versus a 23% percent increase with recognition.


Why it’s important

According to a Quantum Workplace, employees that feel they will be recognized are almost three times as likely to be engaged, yet 35% of employees say they receive recognition monthly or weekly. Further, half of employees say they would like more recognition for their work. The bottom line is that feeling appreciated is a basic human need. Employees simply will not stay with your organization and do their best work if they don't feel appreciated.

In the past, if I was summoned to my leader’s office, my first thought wasn’t, “Here we go again. More appreciation and recognition.” It was, “Uh oh, what have I done now?” The fact is that most leaders just don’t show enough recognition and appreciation. So, why don’t we show it more? Some of the reasons include busyness, feeling like it’s not important, feeling overwhelmed with existing responsibilities, and personal discomfort with showing appreciation.

Some worry that they may give too much recognition and it won’t be meaningful or that there has to be some monumental reason why the employee has gone way above and beyond the call of duty to recognize them. I haven’t seen too much recognition as being a problem anywhere I’ve worked!  On the contrary, it usually shows up as opportunity when gathering feedback or doing engagement surveys from employees.

PATS for Appreciation and Recognition

I find that using the PATS acronym helps guide recognition and appreciation efforts. And it spells PATS like pats on the back. Get it?

  • P – Take an employee’s personal Preferences into account.

  • A – Make it Authentic and sincere.

  • – Make it Timely.

  • S – Make it Specific.


Languages of Appreciation at Work

       In the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work, Gary Chapman and Paul White outline five languages through which people like to receive appreciation. They are as follows:

  1. Words of Affirmation.

  2. Quality Time.

  3. Acts of Service.

  4. Tangible Gifts.

  5. Physical Touch.


Hardwiring Appreciation

       Here are some tips to help you hardwire appreciation into your approach!

  • Ask employees questions about their likes/dislikes/how they like to be recognized and keep a record of this to utilize personalize recognition.

  • Verbally thank employees regularly.

  • Recognize employees on your website or in the newsletter.

  • Have some gift cards or recognition items handy to give out.

  • Write thank you notes, texts, or emails often.

  • Ask employees about others that have been particularly helpful to them and pay it forward!

  • Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and team accomplishments.

  • Discover employees’ languages of appreciation and incorporate them into your approach. Maybe even do a team session to discover them so members can understand how to recognize others in a meaningful way.

  • Put time on your schedule for recognition and appreciation!

This is an excerpt from the SHOW YOU CARE Habit in my soon to be released book - 7 Habits of High-Retention Managers.


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