Employees who are appreciated are productive, engaged, and motivated. Workplaces that foster a culture of appreciation support the well-being of their team. They experience higher rates of employee retention and customer satisfaction.
Creating a culture of appreciation goes beyond the annual or monthly “Employee Appreciation Day.” We spoke with several companies to learn how they appreciate their teams and what benefits they’ve experienced as a result.
Create a Recognition Program
Connor Garrett, a writer for SnackNation, claims that companies can foster a culture of appreciation by establishing incentive-based recognition programs. These programs satisfy the natural desire to have our work recognized. They support employee health and well-being and “humanize the workplace.”
“When you have a recognition system in place, you weave employee appreciation into your company culture,” says Jeff Goodwin, Sr. Director of Performance Marketing and E-Commerce at Orgain. “Too often, companies leave employee appreciation as a desirable goal but don’t treat it as a priority. If you demonstrate your appreciation at established times few and far between, your employees will feel that it is only something you must cross off your to-do list. The praise and recognition will feel hollow and disingenuous. However, if you establish a program that recognizes employees regularly and authentically, your employees will be seen and their work valued.”
There are many ways to create employee recognition programs, and there’s no one-size-fits-all method. Assess your workplace. What kinds of incentives will motivate your team? What milestones are approaching for team members? Answering these questions will help you establish a system that supports your unique team.
Kevin Callahan, Co-Founder and CEO of Flatline Van Co states, “Develop a program that recognizes each employee based on their achievements and milestones. You can demonstrate your appreciation in several ways, but these programs are effective methods for making appreciation a norm. Employees can be recognized and rewarded publicly. When done correctly, they avoid favoritism and boost company morale. Management shows its appreciation, and coworkers can celebrate one another’s accomplishments.”
Recognition can take place in and outside of the office. Whether you’re working in-person or virtually, you can use the company’s website and social media platforms to highlight employees and their stories.
Recognition is the first step in building a culture of appreciation. The next step is rewarding employees for their work.
Rewards are highly motivating. When you don’t reward employees for their efforts, they can become discouraged and unwilling to engage with the company and the rest of their team. Withholding rewards creates a culture of ingratitude, and no one wants to work in this kind of space.
Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when brainstorming ways to reward your employees is a bonus.
“Offering monetary compensation is a highly effective way to motivate your employees,” says Liza Kirsh, CMO of Dymapak. “You can provide increased pay in the form of a promotion that comes with a higher salary, especially if you want an employee to take on more responsibilities, or you can offer bonuses. In addition to annual or routine bonuses, you can extend on-the-spot bonuses. Spot bonuses can be irregular, given to employees when they do not expect them.”
Rewards don’t have to be monetary. The Office of Human Resources at the University of Minnesota claims, “the most powerful motivators are intrinsic rewards – personal enjoyment and satisfaction of making progress toward meaningful goals.”
Sara Adam Slywka, Co-founder and CMO of Nestig agrees that offering employees career support and opportunities to take on greater authority are valid methods for showing them your appreciation.
Sara Adam Slywka explains, “Employees are both intrinsically and externally motivated. However, while external rewards like finances can motivate us, they are not the most meaningful. Employers can offer personalized rewards that support how and why employees work. Start by listening to your employees. Learn what their career goals are and what kinds of responsibilities they want to take on within the company. Give them opportunities to participate in learning programs that cultivate the skills needed to attain these goals. Assign them tasks that challenge them, ensuring you have effective support systems in place. If possible, extend greater flexibility in how they work. All of these methods show that you want to reward your employees in a way that’s designed specifically for them.”
Seeking employee feedback on how they want to be recognized builds an authentic culture of appreciation. You reward employees, and you can thank them with your words.
Speak Words of Affirmation
Unlike most rewards, you can offer words of affirmation immediately and spontaneously.
Haim Medine, Creative Director of Mark Henry states, “Whether it’s in front of the entire team or a one-on-one conversation, make words of affirmation an integral part of workplace discourse. In doing so, you’re building a positive work environment. By affirming and uplifting others, you directly counter negative thinking patterns and cultivate confident attitudes.”
When affirmations are the norm, you empower employees in their creative expression.
“In an environment where affirmations are common, you feel safer expressing your ideas and contributing your work,” says Breanne Millette, CEO of Bisoulovely. “While constructive feedback has its place in every work environment, we want to create spaces where employees are used to hearing about their value as an individual and how their work supports the company rather than criticisms. Affirmations show employees that they’re more than a gear in the machine.”
Following the theme of love languages, of which words of affirmation are one, you can appreciate your team through acts of service.
Do Acts of Service
While it’s incredible to hear that your work is valuable, sometimes the best way we can express how much we appreciate someone’s efforts is by offering our help.
Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing and Communications at RPM states, “Acts of service have a place in all of our relationships, including those in our work environments. Whether you are an employer or a fellow team member, you can show your gratitude for their work and them as individuals. You might help a coworker complete an assignment or offer a snack. These acts don’t have to be grand, but they can be personal. Know who your team members are. Get to know their preferences and their workflow. Then, whenever possible, seek opportunities to make their workday better. When all team members, including managers and employers, help each other through acts of service, it creates a welcoming, not to mention efficient, work environment.”
Acts of service can be between management and employees and between peers. Soumya Mohan, COO & Co-founder of Poised describes how this peer-to-peer connection is essential in creating a culture of appreciation.
“We want to be acknowledged and appreciated by our coworkers as well as our superiors,” says Soumya Mohan. “When we value each other’s work, and we help our peers in whatever way we can, we’re building a strong team dynamic. Everyone has a place and plays an important role. If we want a positive work environment, we must appreciate one another as workers and as individuals.”
Each of us wants to work in an environment with an authentic culture of appreciation. It motivates us to work well. We hope this list has offered you some valuable tips to cultivate a culture of appreciation in your workplace.