Appreciation in the workplace

Words by Julie Gordon of cHRysos HR Words by Julie Gordon of cHRysos HR

A hot topic in the workplace at the moment is gratitude and appreciation and the positive effect it has on people. On 9th March we've invited Appreciateologist Dawn Smedley from OC Tanner to join us at our 'Lunch and Learn' session to talk about this very subject.

We know from research that appreciation encourages motivation in the workplace, leading to above and beyond performance, employee engagement and commitment, being linked to happiness. A study by Glassdoor, for example shows that over 80% of employees feel motivated to perform better and work harder when they feel appreciated by their manager.

We all like to feel appreciated – it is one of our basic needs as humans – it makes us feel valued and equates in the workplace to job satisfaction and increased output, as well as giving us motivation to do things better.

Gratitude and appreciation is known to have a positive effect on our body by impacting on the hypothalamus within the brain that controls bodily functions such as sleeping and eating and dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter. When we feel appreciated our stress levels reduce and we sleep better, as well as having an increased metabolism and improved health and wellbeing in general.

Appreciation

Appreciation should be a fundamental part therefore of our retention strategy at work and whilst it can involve some cost, perhaps treating employees to lunch, or a social outing, this doesn't have to be the case; we can show people how much we appreciate them by saying thank you, letting them know we have noticed their extra efforts, allowing them to make decisions to show that we trust their judgement or giving them the opportunity to develop themselves. By getting to know your team it is easier to recognise what you can do to show they are valued and appreciated.

Whilst pay is of course an important factor to most of us, it is much less important than feeling appreciated: more people leave their employment because they feel there is a lack of recognition or because they don't feel appreciated than leave because they don't feel their salary is right. It's much easier and more cost effective to get good people to stay with us than we might think.

There are some important factors though in ensuring that appreciation counts: remember that the need to feel appreciated is constant, which means that timing is everything – show appreciation at the right time and don't leave it too late. It's also key that appreciation has to be physically demonstrated by actions or words – don't just assume that people realise you appreciate them. Tell them and show them.

Make appreciation a core value of your business and encourage a culture where everyone feels valued and shows appreciation towards each other.

Here are some things we can do to encourage this culture:

• Keep communication open and frequent so that employees understand the direction of the business and feel that their contribution to helping the company reach its destination is important. Make communication two-way so that individuals can share their ideas and suggestions as well as giving constructive feedback.
• Make sure that success is celebrated and that achievements are acknowledged and recognised.
• Let people have fun at work – there's such a feel good factor from being allowed to play!
• Show appreciation in a genuine way – say thank you or well done in person, not by email whenever you can.
• Even when things could be improved upon, give feedback constructively, start by saying something positive before addressing the issue at hand. Don't follow your constructive remark with a 'but' … instead say 'and' … this way the initial positive comment doesn't get lost in what follows.

Finally don't worry about being 'over appreciative'; as long as people know you mean it and you are genuine in what you do or say, it will have the desired effect and positive outcome.

cHRysos HR can help you work on the development of a positive, appreciative culture that drives engagement and retention. Ask us for more information by email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone on 01302 802128.

www.chrysos.org.uk