The value of appreciation: Convincing skeptics

A recent survey found that 51% of managers think they do a good job of recognizing employees for work well done. The problem: Only 17% of employees felt the same.

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Many business and organizational leaders are skeptical about the value of appreciation.  Leaders frequently ask:

*What benefits will I or my organization gain from training my leaders and staff in communicating appreciation to one another?

*Why should we be concerned about whether our employees feel appreciated?

*What’s the potential benefit for the time, energy and cost it will take?


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These questions are neither unusual nor unreasonable for those who are responsible for the financial well-being of a business. The world of work is a demanding environment with harsh realities and no one has extra time or energy to waste on projects that do not contribute to the success of the organization. So, why is appreciation so important to the success of a business?

The importance of employee engagement

Appreciation in the workplace is directly related to employee engagement. The level of employee engagement within a workplace is important to leaders because it has been shown to be highly predictive of numerous positive benefits that impact the functioning of a company. Over several years the Gallup organization conducted research and interviews with one million employees across the world, found that employees feeling appreciation is one of the core factors that can improve employee engagement.

Additionally, numerous studies (over 50 are cited in our new, revised version of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace)have identified significant positive results when team members feel valued and appreciated.  For example, A Glassdoor survey found four out of five employees (81%) say they are “motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.” Additional benefits to companies and organizations include:

  • Lowering staff turnover
  • Fewer on-the-job accidents
  • Less employee theft
  • Lower staff turnover
  • Higher customer ratings
  • Greater productivity

The bottom line: Increased profitability

For those who are driven by the “bottom line” of profitability, the data is clear:  engaged employees increase a company’s profitability. In a meta-analysis of 263 research studies, employers with the most engaged employees were 22% more profitable than those with the least engaged employees.

The same study showed that businesses with more disengaged employees have 51% more turnover than businesses with more engaged workers. Good employees are not easy to find, develop or keep. Hiring a person with the training and experience needed to do the job is difficult enough, but finding someone who has the character qualities you desire is virtually impossible.  So, keeping the good employees you have is a huge benefit to any organization.

The disconnect between supervisors and employees: It’s not about money

As a business leader, you are at risk for misunderstanding how to keep your team members. Many owners and managers believe their employees are motivated primarily by financial gain –that employees will stay if they are given more money. Research studies for decades have debunked this belief.

Most employers (88%) believe employees go to another job for more money, but only 12% of employees report that is the reason they are leaving. The vast majority of employees, when they voluntarily leave a company, report they don’t leave for more money.   In fact, 79% report that a primary reason they leave is because they don’t feel appreciated.

Many business leaders don’t believe this, so let me offer you some compelling data. In a global study of 200,000 employees, the Boston Consulting Group found the #1 factor employees related to enjoying their job was that they felt appreciated (financial compensation didn’t show up until #8).

WARNING: Your employees don’t feel as appreciated as you think

You may think you are doing okay in this area – that your employees know you appreciate them. Sorry, probably not. A national Globoforce employee recognition survey found that 51% of managers think they do a good job of recognizing employees for work well done. But the problem is: only 17% of the employees felt their manager did an adequate job of recognizing them for doing a good job. That is less than one out of five employees believe their supervisor adequately communicates appreciation for the work they do.  Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere.

What we have found is that:

  1. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated at work.
  2. Most employees don’t feel appreciated.
  3. Many leaders either:
    – Don’t care how their employees feel
    -Think they are doing an adequate job of communicating appreciation, or
    – Don’t know what else to do (beyond what they’ve been doing.)

If you (or your leaders) fall into one of these categories, WAKE UP. The issue is important and can be remedied. We have repeatedly been able to improve staff morale, increase employee engagement, and create more positive workplaces – across numerous work settings and industries. Want some testimonials? Click here.  Want to learn how to make it happen in your organization? Start with the book or our training resources.  Being totally straightforward: they work.

This article originally appeared on Appreciation at Work.


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Paul White|is a psychologist, speaker, consultant, and the author of The Vibrant Workplace, co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace and The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.