7 Tips to Show Appreciation and Create a Happier Work Environment

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
- Voltaire

When people tell us we did well at something, we are more driven to be better. This is true as much in the workplace as anywhere. More than 80% of employees said they feel more motivated to work harder when their bosses show appreciation for their efforts. They either aim to maintain the quality of their work or improve it. They also become more engaged and loyal to the company.

Employee appreciation is one of the most effective motivators in the workplace. It not only leads to a diligent and satisfied team, it also results in a happier work environment. Unfortunately, not many organizations realize this. But if you want your company to be an exception, here are some tips on how you can start showing your employees how grateful you are for their good work.

1. Compliment your employees in a specific way.

Sure, you tell your employees “good job” or “you did great” after a task or project. However, you can improve on this by being more specific about the work that you think was exceptional.

You can say, “You gave exciting ideas for the next marketing campaign” or “Good job at executing all the strategies we talked about in the last meeting”. It makes your appreciation more authentic. Moreover, when they know what you were praising about them, they will continue doing it in the future.

2. Recognize small wins and personal growth.

Big accomplishments are not the only ones that deserve celebration. It is also vital to highlight small achievements. It may only be your team members’ improved skills or gradual progress on the project. Whatever it is, it can give their morale a much needed boost. They will also find their job more meaningful. According to a study by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute, respondents put this factor at the top of their list as most responsible for happiness at work.

Recognizing progress is one of the most effective motivators in the workplace. It pushes staff members to become more productive and creative. You are also letting them know that you care about them - a fundamental component of retention.

3. Help them grow in their career.

When you see them doing a great job, reward your people with opportunities that can help them grow. Employees like it when their bosses invest in them. It makes them feel valued and supported.

You can assign them projects they can lead, give them additional training, or send them to industry events to represent your company. Take note that people have different definitions of career advancement. So, check with your staff members what they prefer to do.

4. Appreciate everyone equally.

In a company, there are employees who the leaders know very well. They usually get all the praise and the big assignments. However, some prefer to work in the background. Be sure to make an extra effort to commend these people and the work they do.

You may work more with specific members of your team, but you should not ignore the rest. Your goal is to create a healthy work environment. But if you show preferential treatment, this might cause hostility and resentment.

5. Create positive company traditions.

Your company may be busy with all the work that you and your team do. However, it’s important to give everyone something to look forward to from time to time. Create simple traditions like birthday and employee anniversary celebrations.

You can also have Christmas parties, happy hour events, annual retreats, or team-building activities. Of course, don’t forget to plan something to celebrate big and small milestones your employees have accomplished.

6. Provide perks and rewards.

Treat your employees sometimes, like taking them out for lunch or buying them coffee. It not only makes their tummies happy, but get-togethers like this also enhance your team’s interpersonal skills.

Of course, nothing beats financial incentives, gift certificates, and vouchers. You can give it as their attendance bonus or end-of-year bonus. Another reward you can give is some time off from work. It doesn’t have to be scheduled. After all, recognition is more meaningful when it is unexpected.

7. Say “Thank you!”

Saying "thank you" is probably the easiest way to show that you appreciate your people and the things they do. However, believe it or not, it is still not a common practice in the workplace. So, be sure to make this a habit.

These two words are effective in conveying sincerity. They also establish a connection between you and your staff. So, thank your employees regularly. Don’t only do it after goals are met. Say it also after team members endure a difficult day at work.

Merriam-Webster defines appreciation as a “feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude”. Humans need it in different aspects of their lives - whether at home, with friends, or at work. In an article on PsychCentral, Scientific Advisory Board member John Amadeo, Ph.D., wrote that we love appreciation because it makes us feel valued, seen, and liked. Again, he points out that it also gives us a sense of meaning and connection.

When you have a work environment built around appreciation, expect a strong company culture because your employees are happy, motivated, productive, engaged, and loyal. Not only will they work harder for you, they will also spread the word about how well your company treats its employees, and this will go a long way to helping you attract more talent.

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will."
- Jim Goodnight

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