The Currency of Appreciation in the Workplace

appreciation employee motivation positive affirmations productivity value exchange Dec 05, 2023
Jody Holland Training & Speaking | Leadership
The Currency of Appreciation in the Workplace

Employees who feel valued are more motivated, more productive, and more likely to stick around. There are many factors for why an individual takes a job, but the reason why they stay is emotional. When an employee decides to leave an organization, they may back their decision with logic, citing pay or lack of flexible work hours, but there is almost always an underlying emotional trigger.

This highlights the importance of making your people feel valued. People are significantly more likely in today’s society to leave a job that they’re not happy in than in previous generations. There is no longer a sense of brand loyalty. They have options when it comes to a place of employment, so as leaders, it is important to recognize employee efforts, show your appreciation, and affirm them when they do something right. That is not to say that you shouldn’t also address when things go wrong, but you should do so in a constructive manner. You should address the behavior, not the person.

There is a model that you can follow for addressing both positive and negative behaviors. You can say, “When you did ________(behavior), I felt ________(feeling), because ________(measurable impact).” Following the model of behavior, feeling, and impact (B.F.I.) allows you to provide feedback as to why their behavior was good or bad. This eliminates some of the defensiveness they might have when the behavior is negative because it’s not an attack on the person; rather it’s an explanation of the measurable impact their behavior had.

Some people think that they are paying an employee to do a job so they shouldn’t have to acknowledge them for doing it right because that’s what they expect from them. This is an unhealthy perspective to have. You don’t have to give them a gold star for doing something well, and you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, but you do need to acknowledge their work. Employees want to feel valued; they want to know that their job matters and that they are making a difference. When an employee feels as if they are of value to the company, their motivation to improve their performance increases.

Appreciation is a currency that is often overlooked but that will get you far in business. If you are the kind of leader that constantly tells your employees that they can easily be replaced, take a moment to reflect on your employee engagement. They may be motivated to work harder that day out of fear of losing their job, but that is a very short-term fix. If you want people to be more productive, you need to value them. Thank them for their hard work, give notes on how to improve, and be available to them if they have any questions or concerns.

The cost of turnover is far greater than the cost of a kind word. Remember to show appreciation to your employees for their contributions and make them feel valued. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


-Meghan Slaughter

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