From education to employment

In business success, a little appreciation goes a long way

team meeting in an office

Employee appreciation is not just a nice-to-have. It can positively or negatively impact employee engagement, and therefore business success. However, there is room for improvement in this area.

Most people go to work to make a difference. They do it for their customers, peers, leaders and themselves. But if the contributions they make are never acknowledged or seen, it can cause people to start doubting their worth or the meaning of their efforts, and consequently make a serious dent in their engagement.

This is why employee appreciation is not just a nice-to-have, but can have a genuine impact on business success. Appreciation isn’t about inflating someone’s ego – it’s about making them feel seen. This in turn creates the right circumstances for them to feel comfortable and thrive; both of which are important factors in employees positively contributing to a business.

However, despite this, as many as 39% of employees don’t feel appreciated and 47% feel that the appreciation they do receive is an empty gesture. This sends a clear message: leaders must do more to show employees that their contributions are valued. So, what steps can business leaders take to get the most out of their teams?

Maximise productivity by understanding how to show appreciation

Employee appreciation and productivity go hand in hand. Making employees feel seen and acknowledged not only boosts confidence and self worth, but it also motivates them to do more. In fact, a recent Quantum Workplace study found that employees are 2.7 times more likely to be engaged in their work when they believe they’ll receive recognition for it.

To unlock their team’s full potential, a vital first step for leaders is to diagnose how they are appreciating employees and recognising their work. When people get the validation that what they do and how they do it is appreciated, they have a tendency to amplify that behaviour. Leaders should therefore understand what’s going well and where there’s room for improvement to ensure their employees feel valued and seen.

On top of this, it is vital for appreciation to be authentic and tailored to each employee. Simply saying ‘great job’ or ‘well done’ can feel like an empty gesture. Instead, leaders should explain why an employee’s work is valued, and present this feedback in a way that is engaging to each individual worker. Both these steps – getting to understand an employee’s individual performance and how they react to feedback – rely on one-to-ones and coaching frameworks. If business leaders are to elevate their appreciation strategy above a one-size-fits-all approach, then these steps are essential.   

Create certainty to inspire confidence

We are working in a world where change is happening constantly and this means we often don’t have a manual for how we do things. This is having a knock-on effect on workplace confidence, with 50% of UK adults suffering from imposter syndrome.

Employees feeling like frauds can have a drastic impact on business success and hold them back. For instance, employees that lack confidence in their abilities often don’t feel comfortable to explore new territory, test their limits, learn from mistakes and amplify their strengths – major routes to innovation within businesses.

Appreciation can be crucial to creating an assuring work environment that inspires confidence. Showing employees clearly that their work is valued will help build courage. This will in turn allow them to rely on their own strengths and step outside of their comfort zones, contributing to the business in new, creative ways.

Ensuring value is consistently shown and not neglected

Getting appreciation right is key, but it also needs to be consistent. Employees should be told regularly that they are valued because, if they aren’t, serious consequences could arise. And there are two common outcomes with this.

Firstly, if leaders neglect to appreciate their employees, individuals can become uncertain about the value they bring to the company. This can often create a lack of engagement with their work, and ultimately lead to poor performance.

In some scenarios, this can become a more severe problem. If employers not only overlook appreciation, but also regularly criticise employees, a culture of fear can be created. In these circumstances, employees become anxious about making mistakes and often do everything in their power to either avoid taking risks in the first place or prevent leaders from seeing it. Not only does this hurt performance, but it stifles innovation as employees stick to working within the box.

How to get started

Helping employees feel valued doesn’t need to be about big bonuses or staff drinks. As long as it’s done authentically, appreciation will be felt and often surpass more costly options.

Ways for leaders to show appreciation can include sending a message explaining a piece of work you valued, why you appreciated it and how you appreciate the employee’s ability to complete the task. Alternatively, it could be a shout-out expressing the qualities you value in an employee, or telling them in a one-to-one why they make the team better. But remember to think about your employee first. If they’re an introvert and shrink from the limelight then a shout-out at a company offsite will do more harm than good. Similarly, if they need clear instructions and detail, make sure your appreciation is more structured and goes beyond ‘good job’.

There are endless opportunities to show appreciation to staff. As long as it is clearly expressed, tailored to them, shared in a meaningful manner and done consistently, leaders will be on the path to success. And so will their business.

Fie Fisker, People and Culture Domain Lead, Pleo

Related Articles