The Impact of Appreciation

Life in the workplace has become increasingly stressful. The financial stress from the global economy downturn has impacted businesses, non-profit organizations, ministries, schools, and government agencies.. Team members are discouraged and  are having to “do more” with less resources.

Both local and international studies verify that 65% of all workers report receiving little or no recognition or appreciation from their supervisors in the past twelve months. And 79% of all employees who quit their jobs report that not feeling valued as one of the top reasons for leaving. Many organizations have attempted to address the issue by implementing employee recognition plans. But, in one study, only 31% of employees in organizations that have recognition plans reported feeling sincerely appreciated for doing their work well.

THE IMPORTANCE OF APPRECIATION: Every human being wants to know that what he or she is doing matters. Without a sense of being valued by supervisors, colleagues and reports, people start to feel like a machine or a commodity, as evidenced by:

  • workers becoming discouraged, feeling there is “always more to do and no one notices whether I do a good job or not.”
  • employees beginning to complain about their work and there is an increase in  negative communication among coworkers.
  • increasing negative behaviors such as: tardiness, absenteeism, conflict, stealing, lower quality work, and apathy.

COMMUNICATING APPRECIATION THAT IMPACTS: Dr. Paul D. White, Ph.D., Founder of Solution-Focused Coaching, has identified four critical factors that need to occur for recognition to be experienced as authentic appreciation by team members:

  1.  Appreciation must be communicated regularly: If appreciation is only communicated during one-on-ones or performance reviews, employees don’t believe the messages sent. Similarly, infrequent messages (once or twice a year) don’t adequately communicate that the team member is truly valued.
  2. Appreciation must be individualized and delivered personally: People want to be appreciated for what they individually have contributed. Unfortunately, most organizations use group-based acts of appreciation -a blast email thanking the department for getting a project done or a volunteer appreciation picnic.   This type of communication often backfires, with employees becoming cynical or feeling offended by the general nature of the act.
  3. Appreciation needs to be communicated in meaningful ways:  Individuals have specific ways or “languages” in which they prefer to be encouraged. When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of our primary language, the intent of the message “misses the mark.” Not only is this ineffective, it becomes discouraging as well to both the sender and the receiver.
  4. Appreciation needs to be perceived as being authentic: People want appreciation to be genuine. Workers are skeptical of programs implemented from the top down where supervisors are given an instruction to “communicate appreciation for each team member at least once a week.” While we all want to know that we are valued, we want it to be authentic, not contrived.

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