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Employee Appreciation and Why it Matters

Employee Appreciation and Why it Matters

November 19, 2014


If you want to light a fire under your employees, show them appreciation.

A study of 200,000 employees over ten years by The Jackson Group showed that when managers recognized employees for excellence, the employees were more motivated to excel. In fact, the companies that showed appreciation were more profitable.   

How much more profitable? Before you read on, take a guess.   

You might guess 10%, 20%, 50%, or even 100%.  But you’d be wrong.

The authors of The Carrot Principle demonstrated something remarkable. The companies who gave the most recognition had operating profit margins 600% better than those companies who gave the least. 600%!

Many business owners think that appreciation is “touchy-feely stuff.” But it’s hard to see a competitive edge as touchy-feely.


A Few Other Numbers You Should Know

  • 66% of people identified “appreciation” as a very significant motivator of their of performance

If you want a top-performing team, clearly, appreciation matters. But it’s even more important than that. Companies that fail to show appreciation risk losing their best people altogether. Consider this one:

  • 79% of employees who quit their jobs said a key reason for leaving was lack of appreciation.

Based on all this, you’d think most companies would be rushing to show recognition for their workforces, right? Unfortunately, not the case. Take a look at the next statistic:

  • 65% of North Americans say that they weren’t recognized even once last year.

Depressing, isn’t it? So it should not seem all that strange that 75% of the U.S. workforce reports not being fully engaged on the job.

So now we’ve framed the challenge. You must show recognition to employees who perform. But how?



Speaking the Language of Appreciation

Have you ever sat in a room and seen a co-worker called up to receive a certificate of appreciation? The thing is, you know full-well that your colleague is very shy and hates being the center of attention. You watch as she awkwardly says thank-you and retreats quickly back to her seat. She’s uncomfortable and embarrassed by the whole thing.

What went wrong here?

The problem is that the company acknowledged your co-worker… but not in her language. Public recognition works for some people, but not for her. Perhaps a small gift, a day off, or a one-on-one lunch with her supervisor to present fresh ideas would have made your colleague really feel appreciated.  

Before you can show appreciation, you need to learn the language of the people you appreciate.  


For example, I know of one company that picks up their employees’ dry cleaning, and another business that cleans and details employee cars. There’s a company in Colorado that gives their employees bicycles, another that provides dog-sitting and employee haircuts, and a company that brings in a masseuse for 20-minute chair massages. A number of businesses throw picnics or parties because people have said they’d like to spend more time together socially.



Give the People What They Want

When you know how to communicate appreciation to someone, your efforts become much more effective. For me, I like when you help me get something done or words of appreciation; for someone else it may be about camaraderie and spending time together. Gary Chapman (who wrote the great book The Five Languages of Love) says there are different languages of appreciation for the workplace, just like there are different languages of love.

Here are some of the most important languages of appreciation:

  • Words of appreciation

  • Time — a day off, flex time, or vacations

  • Things — a bottle of wine, an iPhone, golf clubs   

  • Help getting things done

Which one works for you? Do you know which work with your team members?  Here is a link to their Language of Appreciation self assessment (Note: the assessment has a cost. Brand Launcher is not an affiliate and we don’t make anything if you take it.)


Creative Appreciation

Asphalt Restoration Technology (ACT), is a company in Landover, Florida, that shows appreciation to their team by offering “ART bucks.” Whenever the owner catches an employee doing something right, she gives out ART bucks. These are good for what many employees want more than anything else: free time.

At Goldman Promotions we had something called the “SABTCA Awards” recognizing service above and beyond the call of duty. Yep, the acronym is kind of long — but our employees deserved the appreciation, and that’s what counts.

Sometimes, you need to put a little extra thought into it.  A great example comes from a client of ours who is a landscaper. He had a terrific employee whom he really wanted to re-position on the fast-track to management. This particular employee happened to be a huge ski buff, and he didn’t want to take on a management role because he craved the flexibility to take off a couple of months each year to go skiing. What to do?

I met with the owner of the company and we discussed how to access this employee’s heart – how to speak his language. In the end, the company actually  accommodated his desire and even discussed getting him a ski pass and giving him time off that he could use to go and be a ski bum for a short amount of time instead of the whole season. It totally blew his mind.  He felt heard and cared for, and he signed on with a full heart. Some argued that it was a mistake. You know, “it’s not fair.” And you know what? It’s true: it’s not fair. Recognizing individual team members for their special nature and needs is inherently not fair. But when your team truly feels appreciated, they’ll be more focused on performing and less focused on making sure everything is “fair.”


When to Show Appreciation?

Appreciation isn’t seasonal. But it should be tailored for the individual when one person has accomplished something, and for the team overall when they’ve achieved something together.

You can show individual appreciation for:

  • Longevity

  • When someone has reached a meaningful milestone

  • When an employee has provided service above and beyond the call of duty

  • When someone embodies or demonstrates one of the core values of your business

  • When an employee has brought in an important client

You should show your team appreciation when they:

  • Have successfully completed a major project

  • Have demonstrated, together, the values of the company

  • Have surpassed projections or gone above and beyond in achieving goals

This is the path to lighting a fire under your team.

It's interesting to note that the employee incentive industry has reached $38 billion annually and it’s still growing. If you're wondering why, remember what I said earlier? As much as a 600% increase in profitability, that’s why.

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