What is workplace appreciation?
In the last decade, companies have been shifting their focus to company culture. In order the help retain employees, organizations are beginning to realize that they must improve company culture.
Employees are seeking employment in companies that have perks and are family-oriented. Most importantly, though, they want to be part of an organization that appreciates and recognizes their employees’ work.
As employees prioritize company culture, more employers are creating company standards based on workplace appreciation.
Appreciation means “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. All that workplace appreciation is, is appreciation in a workplace. Workplace appreciation is defined as the act of recognizing and rewarding employee efforts to improve the workplace.
Showing appreciation at work can be simple and doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or reward. Rather a simple “thank you” for working hard, completing a project quickly, or coming prepared to company events and meetings.
This recognition can be done in a variety of ways and many different circumstances. Here are a few of those circumstances in which an employer can show appreciation:
- Performance reviews
- Exceeding expectations
- Exhibiting desired behaviors
- Spending quality time together
Why workplace appreciation matters
Why appreciation matters to employees
A Psychology Today article, discusses how the hypothalamus, which controls sleeping, eating, and releasing dopamine (the reward neurotransmitter) is deeply impacted by feelings of gratitude. The effect gratitude has can be a brain boost that positively impacts the workplace.
Gratitude can increase wellness which means employees can have better sleep habits, less stress, and increase metabolism. As these improve, employee results and interactions are impacted.
As employees feel appreciated, not only are they more engaged and productive but their overall health and well-being are improved. Additionally, the Positive Psychology Program found that “people who participated in gratitude exercises were found to be more prosocial than others,” or “promoting other’s well-being usually through altruistic acts.”
The implications of a prosocial team means that members spread positive feelings with others, are willing to help others, and will take the time to recognize others. Therefore, the overall company culture will improve long term as employees encourage positivity.
Why workplace appreciation matters to a company
If an employee works hard for a company but never feels their efforts are appreciated, it will negatively impact the company. Whether it is through burnout or employee retention, a company’s efforts in workplace appreciation will directly impact company culture.
An organization that focuses too much on improvement and not enough on what employees do well, will find themselves with people who are burnt out. Employees experiencing burnout will be less productive, critical of needed changes, and ultimately may find themselves leaving the company altogether. Employee retention can cost an organization a lot of money as they are always recruiting new employees.
When an organization prioritizes workplace appreciation, employees recognize they are valued and their morale will be boosted. In an article by McGraw Hill Professional, they explain the reasons why companies should humanize their employees and not just see them as machines designed to work. Instead, employees need to feel heard and seen. It states:
“In this environment, where the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for employee retention, companies need to be very deliberate in the culture they create. We need new ways to foster and strengthen the emotional connections that attract and retain top talent. We need to be more human at work.” Eric Mosely
As we show employees their work is essential to the company and they do in fact matter, the workplace will be more positive, employees will be happier, and employee retention will be improved.
Gratitude creates positive feelings, cheerful moments, improved self-esteem, more optimism, and reduced stress. These feelings will make your organization more successful as the team unifies.
Each Day, Helping Millions Feel Rewarded at Work
The benefits of when employees feel appreciated
When an organization emphasizes employee acknowledgement it benefits both the employee and the employer. Well-recognized employees are more determined and have more drive to do their work. They also will develop a stronger connection to the company because they feel like the organization sees them as humans and will look out for their best interests.
As staff trust their employers, they will increase their efficiency and be more productive. They will be invested in the company because they know they care.
Here are some of the benefits of team appreciation:
- Positive company culture. A consistent practice of implementing an appreciation program will directly build a positive environment for an organization. As constructive praise and recognition are given, employees are happier and there is less employee turnover.
- Improved productivity. When an employee feels appreciated, they are more willing to work harder. As they work harder, productivity improves. More than 35% of employees believe lack of recognition is the biggest hindrance to productivity.
- Increased customer referrals. Customers will know when the workplace is negative. They will recognize when the employees are unhappy to be at work and this will directly impact customer experience. If the employees are happy, then the customers are more likely to be happy and will be more likely to refer your organization to someone else.
- Nurtures trust between employees and employers. An employee who continually interacts with an employer who praises them and is encouraging will develop more trust in the employer. If employees trust their employer, they will be more likely to buy in and engage in the company.
- Reinforces company values. If employers recognize their employees for their hard work and are treating their staff well, then they will reinforce the company values. As this becomes a more consistent habit, it will develop as part of the company culture.
Increased employee retention. Employees who are happy at work, trust their employer, and see the values of the company are in line with how they are treated, will be more likely to stay at their job. According to an O.C. Tanner survey, 53% of employees said they would stay longer at their jobs if their employers shows more appreciation for why they do.
How to show workplace appreciation
There are a variety of ways to show appreciation in the workplace. This can be a daily event, weekly, quarterly, or in any other time frame. However, it is most effective when it is incorporated daily. The daily expression of gratitude doesn’t need to be complicated or forced. Rather, it can be a simple thank you or one positive comment about something you noticed they did while at work.
Forms of workplace recognition
Before beginning a recognition program, an organization should determine what motivates its staff. This can be accomplished by surveys, trying various recognition styles, and observing what increases engagement.
It is important to remember that though physical rewards are helpful you may not be able to keep up with these types of rewards long-term. Whereas verbal recognition is easier to start and free to maintain. It also can be extremely effective in intrinsically motivating employees.
Here are the forms of workplace recognition:
- Formal acknowledgment from leadership. This can be as grand as a formal note or as simple as praising them at a meeting.
- Informal recognition. This can be done in performance reviews, high fives in the hallways, or a quick thank you message to them during the workday.
- Peer-to-peer recognition. Many might think it is more important for employers and managers to lead team recognition. However, peer-to-peer recognition is just as important. Showing more gratitude amongst your team helps with a sense of belonging and encourages a positive work environment.
- Incentives for various accomplishments
- Monetary bonuses like gift cards
- Parking spots
- A company paid for lunch or treat
- Take the team to lunch
- Host a “wellness day” where you teach wellness activities like positive affirmations
- Give out company swag
- Gift an extra day off
- Organize an activity for the team
- Send a lunch
- Gift a virtual cooking class
- Recognize them at a virtual happy hour
- Give a social media shout out
Set up a work anniversary Kudoboard for colleagues to celebrate them.
How to make recognition genuine
If a workplace recognition program is going to improve employee retention, productivity, and happiness, it must be genuine. Your employees will recognize if the goal is simply to advance the company’s interests and not to give them the praise they deserve.
If the recognition seems disingenuous then it makes the gesture empty. Instead of feeling appreciated, the employee will see it as the company only wanting to improve morale so that staff is more productive and not because they actually care.
Here are four tips on how to make recognition at work feel genuine:
- Be Timely. Authentic appreciation happens in the moment and not months after the fact.
- Be Consistent. To have a lasting effect, recognition should happen often.
- Be Sincere. Instead of fabricating praise for recognition’s sake, find something you genuinely appreciate.
Make it Personal. Whatever your workplace appreciation program looks like, be sure that it suits the employee and company values.
2 workplace appreciation mistakes to avoid
1. Only recognizing success
A focus on goal achievement or monetary success in a company will not cultivate intrinsic motivation for their employees. Instead, recognize the long hours spent on a project. The times they took on more work due to staffing shortages, were a positive influence on their team, or other times they displayed desired behaviors. As this is done, employees will be more likely to continue these behaviors.
2. Not Integrating recognition in performance meetings
An important part of regular performance conversations is to recognize what the employee does well. If a company ignores recognition in this setting, they are missing an opportunity to encourage their staff.
Instead, if managers use these as opportunities to express gratitude for an employee’s efforts they are reinforcing a culture of appreciation in their company and solidifying trust between staff and their leaders.
Ideas for workplace appreciation
Many studies have shown that workplace appreciation is one of the top factors in employee retention and avoiding “Quiet Quitting.” Employee turnover has a large impact on whether or not your team succeeds. According to a study from the University of Central Florida.,
“People who feel appreciated have more energy and a positive outlook on life, expressed through positive behaviors at work. Organizational leaders who feel valued also gain a buffer against the negative effects of job stress. On the other hand, low-energy bosses who are underappreciated may engage in more abusive supervision and create harsher workplaces.”
As discussed previously, with workplace appreciation being a top three factor in employee happiness, it is important to amp up your appreciation efforts. But not to worry, we have compiled ideas on how to improve your company’s workplace appreciation.
Ideas for recognition in company culture
1. Celebrate Your Employees
Your employees will have life milestones, birthdays, work anniversaries, farewells, and other events happen in their life while employed at your company. These can be a great opportunity to celebrate your employees and help them feel recognized.
When employees reach these milestones, they will naturally reflect and take stock of their future. Celebrating your employees is an easy way to get ahead of employee turnover by going out of your way to celebrate these milestones.
A great way to celebrate your employees is through a Kudoboard. Our boards can be used in a variety of ways to recognize and celebrate your people. Whether it is an online group birthday card or a work anniversary card we make passing around a card easy because it is all online! Our boards come with the ability to include pictures, GIFs, videos, and even adding a gift. This is particularly helpful if employees are remote as it can provide an easy way to bring people together.
2. Shout Outs
A shout-out is a message of congratulations, support, or appreciation. When one of the members of a team does something well, shout them out. This can be an informal shout-out at the beginning of a meeting or it can be more formal on social media.
3. Personal Achievements
Something that can be difficult about work is that things can often be “all business.” While this is efficient in the short term, this can create burnout. Many folks crave personal connection within the workplace. If you take time to recognize non-work achievements, you’ll significantly impact employee morale. Taking the time to publicly acknowledge employees’ non-work achievements can make a difference in how employees relate to each other and the job.
4. Let Employees personalize the office
Does the breakroom need new furniture? Give employees a say.
Looking to add art to the walls? Give employees a voice.
Replacing desks with alternate more modern styles? Give employees a say.
Decorating the office for an event or birthday? Give employees a voice.
Cheap appreciation ideas
1. Handwritten thank you notes
A handwritten note can sometimes be more powerful than an email in improving employee experience. The important part is to write something unique to the employee you are thinking about praising. A generalized, “form letter.” feels impersonal and an employee will likely disregard it.
2. Update employee information on your website.
It is probably likely the “About” section of your website hasn’t been updated in a while. This can be a perfect opportunity to highlight your employees.
Go beyond the mundane like name, photo, and title. Instead, have fun with it by listing unique things about your employees. This can be things like favorite ice cream flavors, best vacation ever, favorite hobbies, etc. Bonus points if you can add fun facts that connect to your company mission (e.g. a movie theater could list employees’ favorite movies).
3. Shout out on Social Media
Publicly sing their praises for knocking the ball out of the park on the company’s social media platform(s), with the employee’s permission. Additionally, as a bonus, it shows future potential employees that your company expresses gratitude for hard work and a job well done.
Workplace recognition program ideas
1. Suggestion Box
A public forum for employee feedback is an excellent way to show that you listen, care, and value your staff’s opinions. It also shows that you will continuously improve.
2. Employee of the month
Employee of the Month is a great way to boost someone who has gone above and beyond in their job responsibilities. This is most effective when it is peer-nominated and has rules in place like the same person wins again and again.
3. Workplace Appreciation Week and other Holidays
In March, the first Friday is an official day for workplace appreciation. Even though many believe it to be a hallmark holiday, it is a perfect excuse to do something special for your people. Workplace appreciation week is a simple idea to incorporate.
In addition to workplace appreciation week, there are other holidays celebrated nationally that can be an opportunity to express your gratitude. Here is a list of a few holidays to celebrate:
People love food. When that food is a reward, all the better. Supplying a lunch every once in a while will do wonders in boosting employee experience. If you have remote employees, offer gift cards to a restaurant close to them.
Gift employees an experience they would enjoy. This will take time and effort to know what activity best suits everyone but it can be a great reward for a job well done.
3. Gift them something for the holidays
Buying a little gift for your people for the holidays can be a meaningful way to recognize them. For this to be meaningful, it is important to get each employee a personalized gift to match their interest instead of a one-size-fits-all. A unique gift for each employee demonstrates that you know them well enough to know what they care about.
Workplace appreciation in a hybrid workplace
Expressing gratitude in a hybrid workplace can be difficult because employees are all over the map (sometimes quite literally). In a hybrid or fully remote workplace, people easily feel invisible. Efforts are not visibly seen and praise can quickly focus only on performance.
Workplace appreciation in a hybrid workforce is a crucial part of keeping teams connected. While we are finding that productivity is improved as employees have the opportunity to work from home, navigating employee experience and encouraging engagement at work can be more difficult.
Workplace appreciation programs can play a vital role in improving communication in remote teams and job satisfaction. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate workplace appreciation programs in a remote setting.
Celebrate milestones virtually. Just because employees cannot celebrate together, doesn’t mean you cannot celebrate them. There are a handful of ways to celebrate birthdays, weddings, work anniversaries, etc.
- You can make a video full of clips from co-workers saying happy birthday
- Host a virtual party
- Send an online birthday card
Host Virtual Activities. A great way to create opportunities for a team to feel seen and understood is through activities. These can be used as rewards for your team’s hard work or as a chance for team-building.
There are a host of remote activities you can do. Here are a few:
- Host a tiny campfire. Enjoy smores over a candle fire as the “camp counselor” runs the events and leads games.
- Enjoy a virtual happy hour. This can be based around a holiday, an opportunity for the team to connect, or a formal time for employee shoutouts.
- Participate in a virtual escape room. This is a fun team-building activity sure to be enjoyed.
- Gather teams for virtual classes. There are a variety of classes that teams can attend virtually. Some ideas are remote cooking, meditation, dance, or art classes.
- Organize a March Madness activity. This is a great way for you to celebrate “out of work” accomplishments. Sure March Madness isn’t life-changing, but it can be a fun activity for companies to help ease tensions at work and have some friendly competition.
Send Words of Appreciation
Whether your workforce is in person, remote, or a hybrid it is still crucial to verbally express gratitude for their hard work and performance. Be sure to be genuine, focus on their strengths, and times they went above and beyond. Even recognize when they attended an optional virtual meeting. Whatever it is, these words of gratitude will improve employee happiness and the overall company culture.
Here are some ways to express appreciation in a hybrid workforce:
- One-on-one video chats. Especially in a hybrid or fully remote setting, the leaders and the employees may not get to know each other as well as if they were in person. For this reason, planning one-on-one video chats can be a great way to get to know each other. It is also a perfect opportunity to express all of what they do that you appreciate.
- Send a Shout Out. Whether it is on social media, to the whole company, or simply to their email be sure to shout out when an employee does something mentionable.
Provide an opportunity for colleagues to praise each other. While it is important for leaders to show appreciation, it is just as important to receive it from colleagues. A great place to gather appreciation posts from co-workers would be a Kudoboard.
Workplace appreciation works
Staff appreciation can create a unique company culture as it strengthens employee relationships. Additionally, it can improve team engagement and increase productivity.
A Harvard Medical School study divided fund-raisers into two groups. Their job was to solicit donations from alumni but one group was given a pep talk from the director while the other received nothing. They found that the “university employees who heard messages of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”
Workplace appreciation works. During layoffs and economic uncertainty, it combats survivors’ guilt and improves morale. Then in everyday functions of the company, employees that feel seen and appreciated work harder, smarter, and are more loyal. A more loyal team means improved employee retention as you attract the type of employees that are game-changers.
Frequently asked questions about workplace appreciation
Workplace appreciation is defined as the act of recognizing and rewarding employee efforts to improve the workplace. Workplace appreciation is a company’s opportunity to show gratitude for the hard work they put into the job every day.
Staff appreciation can be achieved through a simple thank you as you pass someone in the hall, an email shout-out, or it can be more formal with bonuses and rewards.
Workplace appreciation comes in two forms: formal and informal. A successful workplace appreciation program incorporates both styles while taking into account what style best fits the employee receiving the praise. No matter the style, the key part of appreciation is that it is genuine.
Here are some informal workplace appreciation ideas:
- Praise given in performance reviews
- A quick thank you message to them during the workday.
- Celebrating a birthday, anniversary, etc.
- Peer-to-peer recognition board
Here are some formal ideas to show work appreciation:
- A social media shout out
- Employee bonuses and benefits
- Appreciation lunch provided by the company
- Hosting a company activity
The crucial component of any workplace appreciation message is that it genuinely celebrates the employee. It should be specific to something they accomplished, a goal they achieved, a behavior they do that you appreciate, etc. Once you’ve decided on what you want to show gratitude for, finding the right message is easy.
Here are some workplace appreciation message examples to get you started:
- “Because of your hard work, our entire team moved forward faster than anticipated! Thank you!”
- “You’ve spent a long time working towards accomplishing this and you’ve exceeded expectations at every step.”
- “Thank you for bringing a smile to everyone on the team”
- “Employees like you make the organization what it is today. Thank you for bringing your best to work every single day.”
Sometimes a small and simple gift can go a long way in showing appreciation to your employees. However, knowing what the best gift is can be overwhelming. Whatever you decide to gift for team appreciation, it must be something they will actually enjoy.
Here is a list of gifts sure to be enjoyed by any employee:
- Practical company swag like a water bottle or a lunchbox
- A massage or spa treatment
- Lunch (catered or a gift card)
- A desk plant
- Throw a party
- Host an event
- Extra vacation time
In the book “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” Gary Chapman along with psychologist Paul White discuss how people “express and receive appreciation in different ways” because they are speaking different appreciation languages.
The five languages of workplace appreciation are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and appropriate touch. These aim to assist managers and co-workers to give appreciation in a way that is meaningful to each unique employee.
Workplace appreciation quotes are a perfect addition to any online card, speech, or evaluation. These quotes can be used to lift spirits, inspire further expressions of gratitude, or help you find the words for your praises.
Here is a list of some workplace appreciation quotes:
- “We know you work hard, but you make it look so effortless.”
- “I am constantly impressed by your performance. Thank you for your hard work.”
- “ I am so grateful that you always take the time to help your coworkers.”
- “I love that you always come to work with a bright smile and a fantastic attitude!”
- “Your enthusiasm for developing your talents is truly inspirational!”