How Showing Appreciation Can Increase Retention
Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
The act of expressing gratitude and appreciation is a rare and beautiful thing in that it seems to only contribute to the overall positivity level of the world. It’s one of the few things that magically multiplies the moment it is presented. We all know how it feels to feel seen and appreciated. Just as we all know how it feels to feel unseen and unappreciated. One of those is significantly better than the other.
That being said, it should be a no-brainer for employers that appreciation has a direct effect on retention. Employees who feel appreciated and seen, employees who are consistently recognized for their contributions, are significantly more likely to stay in a work environment than those who don’t. Even with this simple concrete and true idea, it’s surprising how often opportunities to express our genuine appreciation go overlooked, and underlying feelings of resentment can be planted without anyone’s conscious realization.
According to the American Psychological Association, only 51% of the U.S. workforce said they felt valued by their employer and 36% percent hadn’t received any form of recognition in the last year.* Those are sobering statistics for employers, considering that lack of recognition decreases engagement, morale, and incentive, all of which ultimately decrease the bottom line.
So how exactly does appreciation affect employee retention?
Strengthens Employee Relationships
Have you ever experienced giving someone a compliment only to have them immediately turn that appreciation into an acknowledgment of another person? “Oh, you liked my pie? Well, so and so gave me the recipe.” Positivity creates more positivity. If one person is acknowledged, they are more likely to share that appreciation with a co-worker.
Positive Effect on a Work/Life Balance
Few people have learned to compartmentalize their lives in a way that fully separates their work and personal lives. For many, work is life. So it’s no surprise that feeling unappreciated at work can seep into our home life and create similar feelings of unhappiness away from the office. Recognizing your employees throughout the day gives them positivity that they can carry with them beyond the office and back to their families and come in the next day feeling just as good.
Giving Recognition also Gives Hope for More
Appreciation is just like tattoos. Once you’ve experienced it, you only want more. The wonderful thing about this is if your employees get excited and incentivized by that acknowledgment, they will be more likely to work harder and be more proactive so they can experience the positive feedback again. What’s better than seeing your face on the wall as employee of the month? Seeing your face on the wall the next month, too.
Ways to Show Appreciation
So now you’re pumped and ready to shower your team with your appreciation for all that they do, but aren’t sure exactly how. Good news! There’s an almost unlimited way that we can show our appreciation, but here are a few examples to get you started:
Make it a Priority to Give Feedback
There is an episode in the Simpsons in which school has been closed for quite a while. Cut to a scene in which Lisa Simpson is begging her mom, “Grade me. Look at me. Evaluate and rank me. I’m good, good, good, and oh, so smart!” Now, this may be a bit extreme, but so many of us really do want to hear that feedback. Heck, even negative feedback is better than no feedback. How are people supposed to improve if they don’t know what they’re doing wrong? And how do people continue to succeed if they don't know what they're doing right?
Show Up With a Surprise Breakfast
There are those who swear they don't like surprises. But there’s a good chance that even those people would welcome an unexpected morning treat in the breakroom. There’s something about that extra little treat that brings a smile to people’s faces. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just a little something to say thank you. Donut and bagel places are a common option, and their popularity makes it almost guaranteed that you can find one on your route to work.
Acknowledge the Everyday
Let’s compare an office setting to a restaurant setting. Servers do the same thing every day when they wait on tables. And while it is in no way an easy job, there is a benefit in that even though the job is the same, the faces are different. So, each day, a new person who is waited on has an opportunity to thank their server genuinely. In an office setting, the same report is due every Friday to the same person. Which is why it’s so easy to stop acknowledging appreciation for someone doing what they are expected to be doing. Why not take a moment and say thank you for the minor things and not just the promotion-worthy?
Hopefully, this article has re-energized your zest for expressing your appreciation for anyone or anything in your life that you are thankful for. And from us at David Couper Consulting, we appreciate you!
Melissa Schoenecker is a freelance writer and co-creator of the universe based in Venice, California. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master's Degree from the University of Santa Monica. She contributes to a number of blogs and online postings, but her best work can be found in her gratitude journal.