Fostering Appreciation

In one of our recent blogs, Choosing Optimism, I cited a statistic from Forbes Magazine that stated 79% of employees leave their jobs due to a perceived lack of appreciation. Survey findings on this topic vary and many used similar terms like “unnoticed “or “ignored.” The overwhelming trend that employees want to feel valued at work suggest that further scrutiny of this topic is warranted.

All work places have a hierarchy for job positions. The opportunities for advancement are limited, so the promise of a promotion or a pay raise as an inspirational tool, is in many cases, unrealistic. So how do we help our employees feel valued?

Two other words that received a great deal of attention during my research were the words “recognized” and “appreciated.” Although the two are related, there is a big difference in what they mean and the impact they have on employee retention.

In his ‘Power of Appreciation’ TED Talk, Mike Robbins defines recognition as “positive feedback based on performance or results.” Recognition feels good when it happens but is short lived and is given infrequently “because it has to come from the top down in order to have weight, or merit.”  

Using recognition practices like achievement awards may be motivating in the moment, but they do not promote a long-term sense of value. Other recognition tools like Employee of the Month have even less impact as some companies rotate employees through that program as a means of promoting inclusion.

Robbins goes on to define appreciation as being “expansive, more about people; less about what they do and more about who they are.” Expressing appreciation can be ubiquitous; it can happen at any level within the organization and with unlimited frequency. 

Robbins also cited a UC Berkley School of Business study that found when employees are recognized for their effort, their productivity increased by 23%.  The same study group, however, also discovered when employees felt more valued and cared about, their productivity went up 43%; a 20% increase from employees being recognized compared to employees feeling appreciated. 

Here are a few steps you can take to foster a culture of appreciation:

First, practice looking through the lens of appreciation. Find something daily that you appreciate in your personal surroundings. Appreciate the scenery, someone’s smile, or the abundance of conveniences in your life’s environment.

In your work environment you can share your appreciation by writing a personalized note or scheduling some one-on-one time to verbally express your gratitude. Acknowledging a coworker’s good idea in front of your peers is an affirming experience that shows appreciation. Appreciation encourages cooperation, and cooperation can increase productivity

Finally, be gracious in the way you accept a compliment or praise from a coworker. Show genuine gratitude with a simple thank you. 

Expressing appreciation doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be sincere. The same rule applies to receiving appreciation.

Creating an intentional culture where employees feel valued is a foundational premise that improves work satisfaction and employee retention. At Possibilities Consulting we help organizations focus on a supportive culture that fosters appreciation, and ultimately improves productivity.