Checklist: How to Make Employees Feel Appreciated

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Checklist: How to Make Employees Feel Appreciated

Most employers understand the value of employee engagement and retention. As such, employee recognition programs are standard across almost every workplace. However, the effectiveness of these programs is open to question.

Employee appreciation programs are supposed to make staff feel valued. But all too often, they are implemented in a way that is somewhat procedural and impersonal. Or worse still, employee contributions are recognised but so far down the line that they feel meaningless.

Even recognition programs that have a degree of personalisation can run into problems. Frequently, the same few names are awarded, leaving other team employees feeling left out. Often this will have a net negative effect on employee motivation.

Finding ways to make more of your employees feel appreciated is essential. It can have a big impact on employee satisfaction and motivation. There is no lack of research to prove this.

For example, one study showed that individuals become more productive when they feel socially valued [1], while further research showed that positive interactions promote greater meaningfulness in work [2].

The Challenges with Expressing Employee Appreciation

These findings won't be surprising to most people. On some level, everyone understands that employee appreciation positively affects motivation and company culture. However, many managers still stumble when making employees feel valued.

One of the reasons managers struggle with employee appreciation is that they find it challenging. For starters, communicating emotions and gratitude in the workplace doesn't come easy to everyone. Many managers mistakenly assume that their employees know exactly how they feel about them.

Additionally, managers often find delivering employee appreciation a complex task. For example, some fear that praising employees could stagger their development. Others suggest that excessive positive feedback could send mixed messages to employees.

Furthermore, some managers suggest that attempts to ensure broader employee appreciation also have issues. For starters, it would devalue employee appreciation to the point of meaninglessness.

However, employees don't see this process as complicated. If anything, they have fixed ideas on how managers could communicate recognition in a way that would positively impact employee satisfaction.

So if you want to improve motivation in the workplace, but you're not sure how the rest of this article will provide you with the insights you need to understand what your employees want. With the Great Resignation looming over many organisations, it could make the difference between retaining core staff or losing them forever.

How to Show Employees You Value Them

1. Increase Communication and Face-Time

‍ Interpersonal communication can have a big effect on employee satisfaction. Something as small as saying hello in the morning or asking after an employee's well-being can make employees feel valued and seen.

While you might feel that taking time out to talk to employees seems unproductive, the downstream effects are improvements in the overall employee experience.

Furthermore, even casual routines where you catch up with employees will give you a better idea of what is happening in the organisation. Making your employees feel respected will increase motivation and encourage employees to repay the favour.

2. Give Positive and Negative Feedback at the Correct Times

Employees need a mix of encouragement and development feedback. It's essential they know what they are doing right and which areas need improvement.

Everyone likes positive feedback, but it can become devalued if employees never get improvement-oriented suggestions. On the other hand, employees who only get negative feedback can quickly become demotivated or lose confidence.

Now, you might read this and think that because your employees want both positive and negative feedback, you should deliver them simultaneously. This technique is frequently called the "sandwich approach" because you place the negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback.

However, this method just confuses your employees and undermines feedback. For example, the employees who need to make improvements only tend to hear the positives, while those who perform well tend to remember the negatives more.

So make sure to deliver employee appreciation and employee developmental feedback separately.

3. Incorporate Career Progression into Your Employee Appreciation Process

‍ A significant part of creating a great company culture is providing clear opportunities for growth. Most workers are ambitious, and tangible paths to career progression are vital for employee engagement.

If you want to make your employees feel valued, you can take the time to discuss areas where they can grow and progress. In addition to these discussions, you can find assignments beyond their current knowledge or skill level. Providing these opportunities tells workers you have confidence in their abilities and feel they can progress.

On the other hand, if you don't show any interest in your employee's development, they can see it as a sign that you don't value or believe in them.

Even employees whose work is regularly recognised can feel alienated when their career development is neglected. If they don't see career progression opportunities in your organisation, this may have a tremendous impact on employee retention. There is a good chance they'll look for another company that offers career goals and project milestones instead of repetitive tasks.

‍Apart from ensuring there is career progression, you can also impose company-paid continuing education programs or give out challenging assignments to help workers attain professional development.

4. Be Flexible

‍ During COVID-19 circuit breaker measures, many employees were instructed to work from home. These measures exacerbated an existing trend toward remote working, with many people preferring this setup.

While remote working isn't suitable for every organisation, the circuit breaker measures demonstrated that it could work. Thanks to advances in communication software, productivity stayed high.

If some employees prefer remote working, this situation provides a way to make them feel valued and appreciated. So, consider offering some flexibility to their schedules via remote working or the option of a blended approach.

Of course, this thinking can be extended to ad-hoc situations, too, such as letting employees come in late if they've worked extra hours the day before or even offering flexible working schedules or hours.

5. Make Employee Appreciation Part of Your Routine

‍ Devising employee recognition programs doesn't need to be complex. The fact remains that even simply taking a few minutes to express your appreciation can have a huge impact.

There are several ways that you can build it into your schedule. Something as small as using the start of your team meetings to thank your staff can do wonders for employee satisfaction. Of course, you can go a step further and issue gift cards or vouchers to recognise contributions or arrange lunch with the chief executive officer.

The main thing to remember is that you shouldn't create an automated system to thank employees. For your feedback to have value, it needs to be sincere. Employees can tell the difference.

Now that you know how employees want to receive recognition, it's time to think about the commonly cited reasons they felt unrecognised.

Other Ways to Make Employees Feel Valued

  • Don't forget to invite office staff members and remote workers to company events.
  • Prioritize work-life balance
  • Highlight achievements, work ethics, and someone's positive attitude in a company-wide announcement
  • Encourage peer to peer recognition
  • Celebrate someone's birthday, holidays, or work anniversaries
  • Consider paying for online courses or tuition reimbursement
  • Bring people together by hosting a small luncheon or a happy hour event

How Not to Express Employee Appreciation

1. Make Expressions of Gratitude Meaningful and Authentic

If you want gratitude to impact employee motivation, it needs to be genuine and precise. Your employees like to be recognised, but they want managers to take the time to mean it. A brief, generic compliment or a quick thanks on the way out the door won't have the impact of sitting someone down to tell them why you value their contribution.

You should strive to make your employee recognition meaningful. For employees, that means relevant, sincere thanks delivered in a timely fashion.

Additionally, be careful when recognising a team. If you dish out praise to the entire group, you risk undermining the contribution of your best performers.

2. Don't Neglect Your Engagement Survey and Reviews

‍ Some managers don't value engagement surveys, reviews, company rewards, or other check-ins. As a result, often, these company procedures don't get done.

However, many employees find these milestones a vital part of their progression. Neglecting these procedures can make your employees feel that you don't care about them or their opinions.

3. Don't Let Workers Feel like They Are Siloed

‍ Modern workflows are complex. Employees don't always fully understand how their work helps the business or other departments. However, managers have enough overview to express how their employees work to help others. So don't let your employees feel disconnected from their co-workers.

4. Hurried Shift in Employee Recognition Practises

‍ If you haven't prioritised employee appreciation in the past, a sudden change in practises can confuse employees. Worse still, they might feel it lacks sincerity.

If you are going to implement employee recognition practises, speak to your employees. Find out how they would like their contributions to be recognised. Some people would appreciate public thanks, while others would prefer benefits like flexible hours.

It's important to understand each employee's preferences, so you can make recognition more meaningful.

Summary

‍Valuing employees is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction among on-site and remote workers. It is also one of the most cost-effective ways to attract quality talent. Appreciation can come from any level, but it is highly influential on company culture when it comes from above.

One method that works is liaising with other managers to find out how they show employee appreciation. This exchange of ideas can give you insights into which practises work and which don't.

Building a company culture of gratitude shouldn't be difficult. It involves implementing some small conventions, like:

  • Not taking employees for granted
  • Thanking employees in a genuine, personalised manner
  • Ensuring your employees understand your care about their growth
  • Letting your employees know you care about them as people

Even the most minor words of appreciation can make a huge difference in your employees' day and give them the motivation to work to the best of their abilities.

As an employee experience platform, Qualee can help companies of all sizes to listen to the feedback of their employees. With the help of Artificial Intelligence, we turn data into information, giving your organisation real-time insights to create thoughtful initiatives that will make employees feel heard.  Sign up for a Starter Plan today!

[1] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-09990-007
[2] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0021886318773459?casa_token=3Ce_d55IgUMAAAAA%3ADeRRVI1M0bhud3xohV_4hU67k5fA2zdFY_Oa3EM5aJ-JN3VY9OtdcciV9vY3aaeOLB417oyKJxDn4A

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