Guest Post – How to appreciate the RIGHT way

Did you know that there are right and wrong ways to give appreciation to employees? Worryingly, only 61 per cent of employees feel appreciated in the workplace, and when recognition is given, it’s done incorrectly one third of the time. So, how can leaders ‘get it right’ and what are the impacts of doing so?


Kerry Drury, Culture and Engagement Strategist from workplace culture specialist, O.C. Tanner Europe, gives the following insights on how to recognise staff effectively:


  1. Make giving recognition an organisational priority -If it’s not considered important enough by the leaders, little time and effort will be put into getting it right and it will simply become an afterthought. When recognition isn’t regarded as a priority, employees are 38 per cent less likely to feel appreciated and so ensure leaders are ‘bought into’ a recognition programme and are clear on the benefits of doing so. It simply can’t be seen as ‘another HR thing’.


  1. Be deliberate – Recognising someone’s efforts and results must be deliberate and considered rather than a quick “thanks for that!” when passing an employee’s desks. Ensure time is put aside to praise the employee, giving details as to what they have done that deserves recognition and how they are effectively contributing to the ‘bigger picture’. When a “thank you” is deliberate and thought through, employees will feel 116 per cent more appreciated.


  1. Give praise regularly and in a timely way – Leaving praise to the annual review will allow disengagement and resentment to fester. It’s therefore key to provide praise on a regular basis and, ideally, daily. Recognition must also me given in a timely manner so that the reasons for showing appreciation are still fresh in everyone’s minds otherwise the experience will be diluted and the recipient of the appreciation will feel that they aren’t a priority.


  1. Be genuine and make it personal – Giving a generic “thank you” to a group of people can make the experience unmemorable which is why it’s important to make appreciation personal and sincere. Give people praise as individuals, highlighting what they have specifically contributed and why it’s important. Sadly, genuine praise is currently lacking in the workplace as 40 per cent of employees feel that the recognition they receive at work is an empty gesture.


  1. Learn how individuals would prefer to receive praise– Tailor the recognition moment according to individuals’ needs. If the employee likes a big ‘fanfare’ then give recognition in front of managers and peers to make the moment more special. This show of appreciation also means that co-workers are clear what ‘great work’ looks like and what they, too, need to do to be recognised. Of course, if the employee would be uncomfortable with such a public ‘show’, provide appreciation in a quieter, more private way. The key is to make it an enjoyable rather than an uncomfortable experience.


  1. Link recognition with values– For any recognition programme to have impactful results, it’s key for employees to understand how their behaviour links with the company’s values. This means that every time an employee is appreciated, it needs to be made clear how their behaviour is in line with the organisational values, whether it’s excellent customer service or innovation, for example. This recognition-values link ensures the ‘right’ behaviours’ are praised and are more likely to be repeated again and again.


  1. Celebrate landmarks– Don’t forget to recognise key moments in employees’ lives and careers. It could be a work anniversary or the birth of a baby. By remembering and celebrating important occasions, this will heighten engagement and foster closer ties between the employee and the company.


The impacts of giving appreciation effectively can deliver powerful results because after all, everyone wants to feel valued and recognised for the efforts they put in and the results they deliver. In fact, doing appreciation ‘right’ has been proven to improve engagement, build loyalty, reduce staff turnover and inspire innovation. With 53 per cent of employees saying that they would stay at their jobs longer if their employers showed them more appreciation, perhaps today’s the day to start saying “thank you”, and meaning it!


*Statistics taken from O.C. Tanner’s 2018 Global Culture Report

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