According to many studies, the lack of appreciation is one of the main reasons employees cite for leaving a job. Frequent turnover reduces productivity. Employees who feel unappreciated do not produce their best work. They are not motivated to do any more than is necessary to “get by.”
Many companies try to meet the employee’s need to feel appreciated through recognition programs. They acknowledge top performers by giving award certificates, gift cards, a turkey or ham. If everyone receives the same thing, the program lacks the personal touch. The positive results from receiving a turkey expire before the turkey hits the oven.
Though employers mean well, the results of many recognition programs are short-lived. They don’t address the employee’s need to feel valued and appreciated. Rewards given at the same time, monthly, quarterly, or annually, become routine.
Often the same people receive the lion-share of the awards. Recognition based on total sales or other inequitable numbers gives certain employees an unfair advantage. For example, senior employees have an established customer base. They should have higher numbers than new employees. An employee with a lucrative sales territory or large customer base such as Los Angeles versus North Dakota should produce more and so on. Recognitions and awards designed unfairly are demoralizing. These programs can have a negative effect on productivity.
Recognition programs and appreciating your employees are not the same. But, one does impact the other. If you want an effective recognition program, you must show appreciation to your employees on a regular basis. Appreciation needs to be woven into the fabric of your culture.
How can you increase productivity? Make employees to feel appreciated and valued.
1. Appreciation needs to be consistent. Look for opportunities each day to compliment your employees on a task well done. Acknowledging the little details are just as important as kudos for a finished project. It tells your employees that you notice their efforts and appreciate them.
2. Appreciation needs to be genuine. Don’t say it unless you mean it. And if you mean it, take time to convey the message in a tone that feels appreciative. Choose words that communicate your true appreciation.
Avoid using the word “but.” Do not deliver your appreciation with an ulterior motive. These practices negate the thank you and destroy trust.
3. Appreciation needs to be specific and personal. “Thanks for all you do.” How many times have we heard the phrase? Too many! How many people hear that same phrase throughout the day? What does that really say? It says, either you don’t know what I do around here or you don’t care.
Tell the employee what it is you appreciate about their work. You’ll see this behavior repeated and productivity increase. “Great presentation to the team today! I like how you broke it into clear segments.” And don’t forget about the everyday tasks, “Thank you for cleaning up the customer data base. It’s quicker and easier to navigate now.”
4. Appreciation needs to be meaningful to the recipient. What is their “appreciation language?” Is it tangible gifts? Words of affirmation? Acts of service? Quality time? Appropriate physical touch (a high-five or pat on the back)? Or a combination? You can learn more about meaningful appreciation in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, a book by Gary Chapman and Paul White.
A handwritten note is the perfect way to express your appreciation in a meaningful personal way or offer encouragement. We seldom receive a handwritten note. Many employees considered them treasured gift and keep them for years.
Appreciation can improve productivity, strengthen your company, and your bottom line.
Make an effort to express genuine appreciation frequently for specific efforts in a personal way that is meaningful to the individual. You will see a change in the attitudes and productivity of your team. The leader with an attitude of appreciation creates a cheerful, collaborative culture. A culture that people want to be a part of. A culture that motivates people to come to work each day and give more than the job requires.
What harm can it do to cultivate appreciation and gratefulness in your organization? Try it and watch the attitudes of your employees improve. Express sincere appreciation on a regular basis. You’ll receive a greater return from consistent kudos versus certificates, gift cards, or turkeys. The results are a reduction in costs and an increase in sales and productivity for your business.
LaDonna Greiner is a writer, life-long student of gratitude, and the founder of the Project Gratitude. Her book series, 21 Reasons to Say Thank You, offers audiences the tools and practical guidance needed to discover the power of gratitude and act on it. She is a frequent speaker, coaching audiences on how to live a grateful life. Learn more at www.21ReasonsToSayThank You.com