Reflections on 30 Years in HR with Lisa Perez, CEO of HBL Resources


Appreciation. It’s a word with a big meaning: a feeling of being grateful for something; an ability to understand the worth, quality or importance of something. 

But surprisingly, employees aren’t looking for big bonuses or tickets to a big game in return for work well done. It’s really the little things that show them true appreciation for the hard work they put in each and every day. 

Things of Great Import

Showing meaningful appreciation for your employees is greatly important to the loyalty and longevity of your team. Research has found that when employees experience true gratitude from their managers, they are more productive. And another study found that teams perform tasks better when their members believe that their colleagues respect and appreciate them. When your team feels appreciated and respected, they are much more likely to stick around at your company for longer!

The Problem That Looms Large

A lot of companies run some sort of employee-recognition program, but often they miss the mark and don’t give employees a meaningful sense of appreciation. Rather, it just becomes a box to check off. 

Worse yet, some companies make programs that give awards to individuals for things such as “embodying the company’s values” or “leading a new initiative.” These awards can be seen as an elite opportunity for a chosen few, leaving the majority of your workforce feeling left out and overlooked. 

The issue that looms large over the workplace is the gap between the perception of managers and that of the employees. Often, managers incorrectly assume employees know how they feel about them. But let’s face it, if your employees all had ESP, you wouldn’t need to hold team meetings! 

The other issue at the heart of showing meaningful appreciation is that many managers report that communicating appreciation seems really complicated and that some had trouble balancing it with developmental feedback, fearing sending mixed messages. Employees on the other hand, do not see showing appreciation as a complex task and often clearly articulate ways managers could show meaningful appreciation. 

Ways You Can Show Your Actual Appreciation

So now that we’ve looked at why true appreciation is needed in the workplace and why it so often isn’t done well, let’s look at ways you can show your employees you truly appreciate them! 

Early and Often

It might seem unnecessary to some managers, but actually taking the time to regularly say hello to your employees and check in with them is part of showing real appreciation. These interactions provide valuable points of connection for employees. They keep your staff from feeling invisible and shows that you care about them as a human being. 

Growth Potential

Recognizing a job well done is only part of appreciating your employees. But recognizing their potential is even bigger. So be sure that managers are offering their employees opportunities to stretch with different assignments, the ability to lead a team on a project or the opportunity to attend a conference to learn more. 

Make it a Habit

Taking a few minutes to tell your employee that you value them and their contributions can have a tremendous impact. Whether you do it in person, in an email or in a team meeting, make it a habit to regularly do this. However don’t make it too general or impersonal or it will be seen as inauthentic. There’s a big difference between shouting “thank you” on the way out the door and writing up a personal thank you note. And when there is a specific accomplishment to thank them for, acknowledge it as soon as possible, when it will have maximum impact. 

Have a Team Lunch

If you want to show your entire team some love all at once, have a team lunch. Order in to the office to save time or make it a little more special by taking everyone out for a meal. You might even consider asking your team to help choose the venue. 

Balanced Approach

We mentioned that many managers don’t know how to balance feedback with appreciation. It’s important to understand that your employees really do want feedback. They want to know where they are doing well and where they can improve. When you approach it this way, you don’t need to worry about sending mixed messages.

Looking for even more employee recognition strategies? Consider the Workzinga Culture Fit Assessment! This pre-employment test measures how well candidates align with your workplace – finding you top talent that sticks around. Contact us to learn more!