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Three Secrets to Impactful Employee Appreciation & Recognition

Date Published: March 03, 2023 | Last Updated: September 15, 2023 | By Faith McGrain

Providing recognition and appreciation to employees is an essential leader responsibility with far-reaching impacts: Employee recognition and appreciation are directly connected to employee engagement, performance, and sense of belonging in an organization.  A survey of 1.7 million employees found that people who feel recognized at work are twice as likely to believe that promotions are awarded fairly, innovative thinking is embraced, and people within the company are willing to go above and beyond compared to those who do not feel recognized.

Similarly, more than half of employees surveyed by Glassdoor indicated they would stay at a company longer if they felt more appreciated by their direct leader. Four out of five respondents indicated they are motivated to work harder when they feel appreciated.

While the benefits of recognition and appreciation are well-established, Workhuman found that employers don’t always know how or when to offer recognition, and, especially since the shift to a more remote workplace, employees crave more of these “human moments.”

Want to get it right and reap the benefits for your employees? Here are three tips to put into practice to provide impactful appreciation and recognition that motivates your team.

Be inclusive.

Be thoughtful in recognizing all types of work, not just big projects or high-profile work.

While it is easy to get caught up in celebrating the big wins or high-impact work, it is just as important to talk about and recognize the efforts of work being done that is less shiny, yet just as critical to business success.

If you never talk about certain bodies of work, it is terrible for team morale, both on the broader team and, most detrimentally, with those who do that work. This can be demotivating and divisive and can cause team members to question their value or even why they are part of the team at all.

All work worth doing is worthy of recognition, and all team members are worthy of appreciation. Remember, employees who feel valued and included will continue to perform.

Personalize it.

Do you know how your employees like to be recognized or what makes them feel most appreciated? Are you sure?

Don’t assume you’re getting it right if you haven’t asked. It is human nature to project your preferences upon others, but don’t assume that your preferred method of recognition is what makes your team feel most valued. The ways that people like to be appreciated can vary significantly across your team members.

For example, some people enjoy public praise, while others cringe at the thought and prefer a private conversation. Some prefer exposure to a leader via a simple email or the opportunity to showcase their work through a scheduled presentation to the team. But how do you know? ASK THEM!

The key to recognizing your team members is understanding each individual, so you can provide recognition and appreciation in a way that resonates for them.

Don’t wait!

Recognition and appreciation are part of a healthy leader-employee relationship and assist in the feedback process.

Don’t wait for a big event or formalized performance review to show appreciation or give recognition. While these opportunities are exciting and appropriate times for recognition, appreciation should also be delivered on a consistent basis.

Gratitude should be given promptly so that employees can connect their hard work to the positive feelings associated with being recognized and appreciated.

Simple gestures can have an enormous impact when showing appreciation to your team. You can call or write a note, record a video, or even surprise them with pizza, coffee, or a book you think they’d like.

Even the smallest gestures make a difference for employees: Deloitte found that employees preferred verbal and written recognition over formal celebrations and gifts.

As a leader, you set the tone for recognition on your team. Your behavior can encourage others on the team to appreciate their peers and create a culture of recognition on your team.