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Appreciation - The Awesome Sauce

NBC recently reported that 79% of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving. An under-recognized employee is twice as likely to say they plan to quit in the next year. Gallup reports that only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition in the past seven days. More than 35% of employees consider lack of recognition for their work the biggest hindrance to their productivity according to a recent poll by TJInsite, a division of timesjobs.com. Around 69% of North Americans surveyed don’t even hear one word of recognition during an entire year.


Those facts alone are enough to make us consider that appreciation may be the lacking awesome sauce in the companies and teams we lead. Appreciation and recognition let someone know they are doing a good job, causes them to feel seen, and gives value to work. The more important something is, the more we notice it. Unnoticed work usually loses its value.


Appreciation is recognition of the magnitude, significance, value, or quality of things or people. It is a basic human need. Every human being needs to know that he is important to other people. People need to be valued, thought about, and noticed. This need is constant, and appreciation becomes meaningless if it is offered too late. Feeling appreciated is not enough. An employer must express and speak appreciation for his valued employees. Employers, leaders, managers, and companies that want people to work for them must understand the importance of appreciation. In fact, any thriving relationship needs regular doses of sincere appreciation.


Why do leaders go slow on appreciation and resist giving recognition?

  • Time. You’re too busy getting things done to waste time giving recognition.

  • Discomfort. You might resist giving recognition because you don’t need it. You think, “Tell me what to do and I’ll get it done,” and you think everyone else should be that way. Genuine recognition and appreciation require humility.

  • Misjudgment. You think that only weak people need it.

  • Poor EQ. You think pay is all that is needed to do a job. Compensation financially should be enough.

None of those are acceptable reasons to great and effective leaders. There are so many reasons appreciation and recognition improve virtually everything in relationships and the workplace—actually, everything in life improves with it. Volumes have been written about it. Just a few of the many reasons include the following:


1. Appreciation improves productivity. When employees know their hard work is appreciated and their work is valued, they are motivated to maintain and improve their great performance.


2. Appreciation improves workplace morale. Appreciation ripples! Anyone who feels appreciated is much more likely to pass it on to others, and the culture improves.


3. Appreciation keeps employees engaged. People like to stay and participate where they feel valued and needed. Engagement and dedication are closely tied to appreciation awareness.


4. Appreciation helps build staff loyalty. The Robert Half study shows that 66% of employees leave their job because of a lack of appreciation. Appreciation should be a daily event.

How can an employer express appreciation and give recognition?

  • Money is not the only reward that expresses appreciation. Many employees would feel more satisfied and happier if their employers treated them unexpectedly with “thank you” notes, gifts, lunches, dinners, or snacks. Many would also love a reward like a company sponsored day out or vacation. Even cost-effective means of appreciation are enough to express that the employees are valued.

  • Means of no-expense appreciation include thanking the employee by name publicly and privately, involving the employee in decision-making.

  • Identifying specific character and performance traits that make the person highly valuable.

  • Reward programs that have perks showing value, like an extra day off, mentions in newsletters or company media, gift cards, etc. An employer gets what he rewards. An employer should be formulating reward programs that would positively influence employees to grow their potential as powerful workers and committed team members. The company should always be acknowledging the efforts of its workers and offer appropriate rewards.

  • Look your employees in the eye and thank them very directly and specifically. Remember, a positive comment should never be followed with a “but.” Never give appreciation and correction at the same time. It feels manipulative and demotivating.

  • Schedule fun events to reward the entire team.

You can help your people grow in the art of appreciation not only by the way you express appreciation but also in the way you receive it. When you are thanked and appreciated for something you do, don’t act like it’s no big deal. Be gracious and grateful for the recognition. It will build the relationship and create an ongoing cycle of mutual respect and gratitude in your organization.


Humans need to receive and give it. After all, appreciation is gratitude, and gratitude is the healthiest human emotion.

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