By Maria Elena Duron
Does your work environment resonate a culture of gratitude and appreciation?
Even if you are a two-man operation, you have to realize that showing appreciation to your teammate is crucial if your business is going to be as productive as you want it to be.
According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, individuals that voluntarily leave work cite lack of appreciation as one of the major reasons for leaving. And even though a large majority of employers and supervisors can attest to having shown gratitude to employees that perform well, only about 17 percent of employees report those supervisors do a good job at appreciating them.
What brings about this disconnect?
Employee Recognition Programs
Almost all employers have some form of employee recognition program, where employees and best performers are recognized and rewarded for their good work. Where most employers get it wrong is that these programs rarely appreciate, but rather recognize and reward. The motivation gained from such programs is short-lived, and soon work issues crop up again.
As well intentioned as these programs are, they have their setbacks. Many times, recognition programs are generic and impersonal. Generic meaning that the nature of the rewards and, at times, sentiment are exactly the same, year in and year out (certificates, gift cards, vouchers, cash rewards, electronic gadgets, and so on), and everyone is bound to get the same gift. This makes the gesture feel impersonal.
Recognition programs are also infrequent. These activities tend to be held at certain times of the year, and the rest of the time employees have to find the motivation to work from other sources.
Appreciating Your Team
Appreciation in your work environment doesn’t have to follow the recognition-program style. In your case, appreciation has to be woven into your company culture. To do this, four conditions must be met:
1. Appreciation Must Be Frequent
You don’t have to wait until the end-of-year performance review to say, “Good job, Mike.” Rather, make appreciation as frequent as your interactions with team members.
2. Appreciation Must Be Personalized
Individuals are different, and a one-size-fits-all approach to conveying appreciation rarely bears fruit. It has to relate to individuals in your team and their specific actions. People don’t mind hearing “Great job, everyone,” but what would really motivate and keep them going is “Thanks, Molly, for staying late to finish working on the presentation” or “I appreciate you cleaning up the meeting room after we were done.”
3. Appreciation Must Be Authentic
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of conveying appreciation is doing it in an authentic manner. What makes appreciation authentic?
Your tone of voice and facial expressions convey a lot about your genuineness. How you relate to your team member in private has to be same as how you treat them in full view of everyone, otherwise they’ll know you’re faking it. If previous cases of showing appreciation have always been accompanied by an ulterior motive, team members are unlikely to take it seriously.
4. Appreciation Is Best Conveyed in the Language of the Recipient