No one likes to feel unappreciated. When you go out of your way for someone – or even when you just do what is expected – and your efforts aren’t acknowledged or taken for granted, you’re not likely to want to put in the effort again. This applies even at work. Sure, your employees collect a paycheck for the work they put in, but they still want to know that their efforts are appreciated. Otherwise, they are likely to feel like just another cog in the wheel, disrespected and ultimately dissatisfied with their job and with you as an employer.
Because feeling unvalued is one of the leading causes of low morale and employer, it’s up to you as the boss to show your workers that you appreciate them. A simple “thank you” can go a long way toward showing employees that you care, but there are other ways to show that you care that will help your team feel valued, appreciated and committed to the company.
1. Recognize Individual Contributions
Many bosses are great at recognizing the whole team. For example, maybe to acknowledge meeting sales goals for the quarter, you bring in lunch for everyone or let everyone take the afternoon off. While these celebrations are important for building morale, and enjoyed by employees, they don’t necessarily recognize individual accomplishments and contributions. Your top performer and the intern who’s been in the office for two weeks receive the exact same reward.
Therefore, it’s important to recognize individual contributions and achievements as well as team wins. Establishing an employee service awards program, for instance, to recognize employee commitment, exceptional service or excellence shows individuals that their contributions matter. Sending individual thank you notes, pulling employees aside to say thank you, acknowledging individuals during staff meetings and personalizing awards are all simple ways to show your employees that you value them. Just be sure that you don’t play favorites, and that your appreciation is authentic.
2. Make Appreciation and Interactions Personal
One reason that employee appreciation efforts fall flat is that they aren’t relevant to individual employees but rather feel generic and impersonal. To make an employee feel valued, you need to make the appreciation feel relevant and personal to them. This can be as simple as leaving a note on their desk to say thank you or praise their work on a project. Remembering small details about your conversations and mentioning them later on also shows employees that you listen to them and value what they have to say. For example, if an employee mentions that they have to buy supplies for their child’s science project on the way home from work, ask how the project turned out a few days later. Acknowledging employees on a personal level shows that you value them as people, not just worker bees.
3. Help Them Grow
While everyone appreciates raises, today’s employees are also looking for opportunities to grow and develop and are more loyal to employers who provide them. When you invest in an employee’s growth by covering course tuition, sending them to conferences or seminars and supporting other learning opportunities, you show them that you value them as an employee and believe that they can do even more. Even just giving them more responsibility or giving them the chance to work on new projects or take on leadership roles shows how much you respect them and that you believe that they are up to the challenge.
4. Make It Specific
To ensure that your efforts are effective, appreciation should be specific and within context. Simply telling your employees “thanks for being here,” doesn’t really value their contributions. It’s basically saying “Thanks for being a warm body.” To really show people that you value them, provide specific and contextual appreciation. Mention a specific task, accomplishment or habit, and put it in context. In other words, tell your top salesperson that you appreciate their work on a particularly tricky account, as it helps move the department forward toward meeting annual sales goals. Your employee will know exactly what you appreciated and will be able to continue that behavior.
Your employees are your greatest asset, and how you treat them makes a significant difference in how productive and successful your company can be. When employees feel valued, they want to come to work and work hard, rather than just put in the hours and collect a paycheck. Appreciated employees are more motivated employees – and happier employees. Not to mention, when you develop a culture of appreciation, it improves your company’s reputation as an employer, and it helps recruit top talent. Ultimately, your company becomes a great place to work, and you save time and money by reducing turnover and staying productive.