Showing appreciation to your employees is the most inexpensive and impactful way to make them feel valued and motivated. Even the simplest gestures of appreciation can bring teams and channels closer together, lift morale and amplify productivity. Expressing gratitude for employees is one fundamental way to encourage your team to grow, but only if you know how to do it.

Your employees deserve more than a “Thank You”. But, unfortunately, most of the time, it’s not enough to simply thank a colleague and go on. Why is that?

To understand this, let’s first assume a case.

When you say “Thank you”.

What your employees hear is, “Please accept my standard, HR protocol-approved format for acknowledging your most recent activity that was intended to bring me value. The act of expressing these words is purely my own in a personal capacity, and the organization may not necessarily subscribe to it. I will also appreciate it if you resumed work with immediate effect now, without lingering too much on the possible implications of these words as they are - certainly in letter and largely in spirit - routine and perfunctory”.

Yes, the gap. It exists. It can be worse than a bout of Chinese Whisper. And it is undoubtedly more common than you think.

In this article, we will explain how to minimize the appreciation gap, some of the best ways to show employee appreciation in the workplace, and take a deeper look at the various nuances of appreciation in the workplace.

How to Minimize the Gaps of Appreciation in the Workplace?

Despite the best intentions, when managers and bosses give a pat on the back to a team member who has excelled at the job, it can be interpreted as a ‘routine round’—just another box on the checklist that needs to be ticked at 6 o’clock.

The reverse is equally true. A worker may be pleased to receive a simple ‘Thank you note, but the giver may hesitate under the misconception that it will be perceived as a meaningless, clinical ‘process.’

Interestingly, a third permutation to the picture is that a supervisor (or peer) may not do or say anything but make sense of appreciation clear via non-verbal means, body language, or gestures.

So except for the fourth combination (where a ‘Thank you’ is neither expressed nor intended), we can see that there can be a complicated criss-cross of emotional nuance and semantic innuendo flying through the air in a workplace at any given point of time—depending on how you express appreciation, and how it is received.

minimizing the gap of appreciarion in the workplace.

Adding to the riddle is the illusion of transparency. A theory proposing that humans are prone to thinking that their deportment and conduct are sufficiently transparent to help the environment get a fair sense of what they are thinking and feeling.

In other words, the ‘message’ behind that “Thank you” is transmitted precisely as intended initially—wrapped in genuine gratefulness for the value received (assuming, of course, that it is indeed the case). This, of course, isn’t the reality a lot of the time.

Completing this cycle of opacity is that managers and bosses are perpetually foxed about the precise method of articulating their feelings and expressing their appreciation.

According to most of us, the ‘perfect way’—one that wouldn’t send out mixed signals and capture exactly what they felt—is a relatively complicated and specialized task best delegated to HR folks. Who, ironically, may be nurturing a similar state of bafflement.

Importance of Appreciation in the Workplace

A ‘Good Word’ is Good Habit and Good Business.

According to talented thought leader Pamela Stroko, “People want to know they matter and want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.”

Acknowledgement of one’s contribution (appreciation and recognition) and incentives (rewards and compensation) are among the principal pillars of a motivated and productive workforce. Stats and studies proving the connection between the two are plentiful.

An American study shows that doubling the number of employees who receive regular and adequate recognition can lead to a happy snowball avalanche: 24% rise in (output) quality, 27% reduction in absenteeism, and 10% reduction in shrinkage.

Another exercise revealed that 84% of 'Highly Engaged' employees went the extra mile at work and experienced some appreciation or recognition. Although, on the contrary, just 25% of 'Actively Disengaged' employees, 70% of workers agreed their morale would get a 'massive' boost if they got more 'Thank You! 's from their supervisors.

And that the percentage of workplaces that recognized the performance of their employees (and had more engaged workers)—vis a vis those that didn't—was 71:41.

Easier said than done?

Despite the mountain of evidence confirming that a worker who has received recognition of some kind, be it a silent moment of gratitude or flashy prizes, is a happier worker is a more efficient worker, the gap remains.

In an American survey, 82% of employees didn’t feel that they were being recognized sufficiently for what they do.

However, the bigger question is whether the managers in these surveys were wary of the importance of appreciation in the workplace, or were they really being mean and niggardly with their ‘Bravo!’s and ‘Well Done!’s, or just handicapped in the communication department? Or was it a case of wanting to but not being able to? It could well be.

Psychology isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Expressing emotion in a frank and genuine way without holding back or delaying the moment can be a tricky affair (and a fine line to toe) at the best of times. But, at higher levels, it is squarely a professional’s job.

6 Simple and Creative Ways to Show Employee Appreciation in the Workplace

So what about the rest of us? Is it possible to simplify the nuts and bolts of employee recognition & appreciation, and scrunch the big lessons in a compact, easy-to-follow guide?

In a way, that is exactly what the objective of this exercise is. While perhaps not a comprehensive guide (do stay tuned for that too!), the idea here is to handpick, decode and list out some simple ways to appreciate employees at work.

And engage the teams, channels, and extended networks by articulating appreciation instantly, successfully, and consistently.

Here we go, then.

1. Drop by frequently 😅👋

A simple ‘Howdy?’ or ‘All good?’ as you check into work in the morning can often be just enough to make workers feel acknowledged and buoyed. Initially, it may feel like a chore (especially if it’s not a part of the culture), but the good part is that the feeling will soon morph into a pleasant habit you will grow to look forward to every day.

Employees say in studies that this simple gesture can be as meaningful for them as formal recognition. As a happy bonus, it doubles up as a ‘guerrilla social listening tool’ and ‘dipstick mood survey’ for leaders, helping supervisors stay in the loops and grapevines of all that’s happening in the barracks.

2. Convert everyday tasks into magical missions (whenever you can) ✍️👨‍💻

A dry memo or a regulation email is as inspiring as a slow internet connection or listening to a politician's address. So when you are about to dole out 'yet another regulation brief' that features the same tasks and asks, stop.

And try to 'mix things up' and make it unique. While you don't need to be as dramatic as "Your mission, should you choose to accept it…" from Mission Impossible, you can undoubtedly add context, colour, and personalization.

Tell the employee why the gig has come to them specifically and not someone else. For example, they did a great job of it last time or that, according to you, no one can do greater justice to the project's spirit.

Show them that their opinion about the task matters greatly by enquiring how much time they think they might need (never mind that the company manual spells it out in great detail). Find out whether they need any extra help or hands. And leave with a warm reminder that they can approach you anytime for support.

You have not only given the project a truly excellent start (arguably more potent than cracking a coconut)—you have also lifted morale to ensure a better outcome and perhaps won for yourself a good friend. This is the easiest way to make your employees feel appreciated.

3. Share positive feedback 📝 😊

A good word from the same boss—while necessary and excellent can get predictable (or, worse, feel ‘staged’) after a while. Try to look out for positive mentions from other sources like peers, clients, and extended channels and networks too. If someone has appreciated a team member in a mail or text message, be quick to pass it on.

‍Depending on your assessment of the situation and the personas involved, you can do this publicly or choose to be more discreet and convey it in private.

Either way, though, by communicating that the worker is genuinely making an impact, you have given the ego a delicious massage (don’t we all need it sometimes) – something that is bound to show in vibe, mindset, and yes, even quality of work.

4. Throw a challenge 🤜🤛

The workplace isn't a drone factory manned by clones. It's not where you clock in a fixed number of hours doing exactly what you did yesterday. At its best, it's a playground where we must be teased constantly to bring out our hidden talents, punch above our weight once in a while and experience the thrill of trying 'new stuff.'

Allow your workers to do all that. While humdrum tasks and unglamorous routines must remain the bread-and-butter of a business, do keep an eye open for opportunities when you can spice up 'grunt-chores.'

For instance, you can weave in a fresh angle or KPI - or let folks apply their talents in a different department or lateral function. That doesn't just make the workday enjoyable but allows the worker to learn something new, broaden the skill-set and contribute to the company's bottom line is unique and novel ways.

The mere act of challenging someone shows that you believe that they have it in them to achieve the goal and that in itself is enough appreciation.

5. Recognize and reward 🏅🏆

Employee appreciation and recognition play a massive role in driving employee happiness and engagement. So much that happy employees are, on average, 12 per cent more productive than their less-happy counterparts, says research.

When employee appreciation and recognition come from incentives and rewards, it adds an extra layer of zing to the equation and authenticity to the employee-employer premise and promise.

When you plan to shower your workers with ovations and accolades in tangible form (incentives) like prizes and gifts, there are some thumb rules to keep in mind when you plan to shower your workers with ovations and accolades. For one thing, make it ASAP before the vibe grows cold so that you can take advantage of the 'magic of the moment. Incentive delay, after all, is incentive denied. The other is to personalize it.

Make sure the reward matches – at some level – the individual's exceptional talent and distinct personality or have a quirky connection with the task or project in question. This will tell them that you know (and greatly value) their unique abilities and skills and have taken the trouble of stepping beyond the standard gift list to find something genuinely appropriate.

The other critical element to plan is whether you should make this a public or private affair. If there is no particular reason for choosing the latter route, go ahead and make a meal of it by planning an 'evening with the guys' that lets everyone catch up over the reward ceremony, recharge sparks, and rekindle bonds.

Finally, do make the gift or incentive commensurate with the occasion. A realty rockstar who has just sold a mansion in the country deserves more than a pizza voucher. An Account Development Manager who has finally cracked a VIP category will expect more than a free haircut at the neighbourhood salon. Be involved enough to be tasteful, thoughtful, and meaningful when picking and choosing your rewards.

6. Appreciation is a culture, not an act  🤗🙏

Throwing pizza parties once in a while or giving out annual awards is fine, but it is not enough. Understanding why appreciation is important in the workplace and carefully build and nurture a culture of appreciation is essential.

A culture of appreciation is all about valuing employees as human beings and acknowledging their impact on the business. It is a workplace habit that must be enforced top-down by the leadership.

Review your rewards policy frequently, keep it ‘real,’ be generous in dispensing praises, and plaudits. you could be pleasantly surprised at the significant shifts your small gestures of appreciation are ushering at work.

Conclusion

Understanding why appreciation is important and taking timely and appropriate measures to show employees appreciation in the workplace can go a long way in building a successful organization.

By enabling unique channels of communication (be it a virtual Heads-up or an impromptu party) between workers, by motivating teams and extended networks (gig workers, channel partners, dealers, call centres, and BPOs) through timely and accurate incentives, and by letting you pick the right reward for your organization’s rockstars (from a broad and bespoke range of gifts, branded currency, perks, vouchers, and cards), Empuls helps you close the appreciation gap.

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Manoj Agarwal

Manoj Agarwal LinkedIn

Manoj Agarwal is the Co-Founder and CPO at Xoxoday. He is an MBA from IIM Kozhikode comes with 14 years of experience in building companies, technology, product, marketing, & business excellence.