When individuals in an organization are recognized for their valuable & unique contributions that lead to positive business impact, a culture of appreciation happens. As employees feel valued and empowered, they take initiatives that align with their and their organizations’ goals. This leads to a positive feedback loop that is cooperative and appreciative at the same time, and contributes to building high-performance teams. Creating a culture of employee appreciation starts with the leaders, with those at the top setting the tone for employees to follow.
What is the culture of appreciation at work?
When employees at all levels are cognizant of their goals and are actively working towards them, every move by their colleagues and team members will contribute to their success (and vice versa). Recognizing this fosters a culture of collaboration and learning. Managers can facilitate an environment where these statements of gratitude can be exchanged and then take it forward from there.
Why is it important to have a culture of appreciation?
Showing appreciation in the workplace can be as simple as saying “thank you” for quickly completing a project, helping out with an issue, or solving a difficult problem – basically, a token of gratitude expressed for a job well done.
Culture of appreciation plays a key role in the workplace and creates a positive organisational culture. It results in the strengthening of the employee-manager/leader relationships. As revealed by many studies, appreciative culture is a proven method to motivate employees and help them be more productive and committed.
Research by Deloitte shows that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that for a business to succeed, it should have a distinct corporate culture. The survey also identified a strong correlation between factors that make employees feel valued and happy at work and employees who feel that their company has a strong culture of employee appreciation. In the real world, the effect of great culture can be seen in the organizations named as “Best Places to Work” and how they succeed and innovate more readily than their competitors. The strong, positive corporate cultures of these organizations help employees feel and perform their best at work. According to CultureIQ research, employees rate their companies 20% higher when they exhibit a strong culture in various parameters such as collaboration, environment, and values.
What are the benefits of building your company culture around employee appreciation?
Building a culture of appreciation has a lot of upsides, both in terms of work improvement and the personal development of employees:
1.Employee appreciation improves employee productivity because employees who know their hard work is appreciated and recognised are the ones who are most likely to innovate.
2. Employees feel valued for their work and contributions, and this spurs them on to maintain and improve their high standards. Employee appreciation improves workplace morale as employees who feel appreciated are highly likely to show continuous appreciation to their team members and co-workers.
3. Employee appreciation keeps employees engaged as they look for the next success – be it in their project or their colleague’s. The allure of appreciation for a job well done boosts employee productivity and increases employee engagement and dedication.
4. Employee appreciation helps build staff loyalty, as productive employees who are engaged and appreciated at work don’t actively think about switching jobs. The primary motivators for any job switch are a lack of appreciation in the form of compensation or words and a lack of growth opportunities. Organizations that build a culture of appreciation can sidestep these issues altogether, as they are invested in the growth of their employees.
How do you develop an appreciation culture?
Organizations can follow certain basic tenements of communication and behavior to help their employees understand the value of appreciation. Those who strive to make a culture of appreciation happen often start by having a clear vision, mission, and values and helping their employees align their personal and professional goals with those.
Emphasis on employee wellness ensures that employees feel their best in all aspects – be it physical, mental, financial or emotional. By ensuring that employees have the resources, tools, and opportunities to live their healthiest life, organizations can get the best of their employees – both inside and outside the office. To build a culture that fosters such behavior, organizations don’t have to start from scratch. They can enhance their current culture by having an honest conversation with perpetrators of the culture – employees. Asking for employee feedback about likes and dislikes can give an idea about the current company culture and work environment. Leaders can use these suggestions to create a positive company culture that energizes the workforce, and makes the employees feel heard.
Providing meaning and purpose to employees is more important now than ever. It is natural for employees to crave meaning and purpose in their work. Building a company culture of excellence also requires meaning behind what the organization is working on. Creating a strong mission statement and core values is essential for providing a sense of purpose. They need to be communicated efficiently to employees—so that they know how their roles positively impact the organization, its clients, and the world.
Creating unambiguous goals brings employees together and gives everyone something specific to work towards (other than a paycheck). Also, it helps managers to identify the weak links and provide the necessary help at the right time. This way, the employees won’t hesitate to ask for help when facing issues, as the focus is on finishing the project efficiently and not on individual achievements.
Encouraging positivity builds a positive culture because when employees express gratitude, smiling often, and remain optimistic during difficult situations, customers feel relaxed too. And employees can learn to be this way by observing the leaders who choose to be empathetic, understanding, and focus on the positives.
Encouraging better social connections fosters better workplace relationships and is an integral part of positive company culture. When employees know their colleagues well and interact regularly, collaboration and innovation in the organization increase. Providing employees with opportunities for social interaction in the virtual workplace with impromptu team meals, happy hour excursions, or hobby clubs shows employees that the organization cares about their well-being too, and not just their ability to work.
Listening to employees is one of the easiest ways organizations can build a positive company culture. CultureIQ research showed that 86% of employees working at companies with strong cultures feel their senior leadership listens to employees. While it seems like a no-brainer, making sure the employees feel valued, and their voices heard is a rare skill (that can be learned).
Creating the role of culture champions in the organization can simplify the jobs of leaders and managers by appointing a team member to promote the aspirations of the organization and encourage others to do the same. Spreading cheer can also help fun interactions that boost morale and bring employees closer.
5 steps to building a culture of appreciation at work
There are a few concrete steps that leaders of an organization can take to foster a culture of mutual appreciation. Some of these pointers are discussed here.
1. Acknowledging important employee milestones is important because silence communicates negativity. When employees work hard and succeed at the beginning of the year but must wait until the end for their efforts to be recognized, resentment might soon set in. By creating celebrations to commemorate a milestone, organizations can also give a chance for co-workers to rally around each other – be it a promotion, a work anniversary, reaching a KPI (key performance indicator) ahead of time, new certifications, or something else. It can either be a verbal employee recognition or a monetary one—in terms of gift cards, time off or a special award.
2. Having difficult conversations with employees about health, well-being, and success is very important for managers and organizations. Following up on their responses is essential, too, as employees who dare to be vulnerable enough to share their issues should get help as soon as possible. Issues can be personal, professional, or something else; managers and team members should look out for each other when things get tough.
3. Establishing an employee recognition platform simplifies the process of rewarding employees for their achievements. These programs can recognize milestones, positive behavioral developments, anniversaries, promotions, and many other things. The incentives involved in these programs focus on recognizing and appreciating the achievements and best efforts of employees. Usually, these programs are designed around points, which employees can redeem for tangible gifts or other items. Employee recognition programs not only drive employee engagement but also improve employee health and well-being. They also improve customer satisfaction by a large margin, as happy employees who love their jobs try to make things better for customers too. Also, recognition programs help a great team operate at its best by providing a great system to work and play with.
4. Celebrating big wins improves team morale, showing employees that the entire organization is as invested in their continued success as they are. Also, having opportunities to discuss and show off their success gives employees an added reason to succeed better and faster the next time. When employees are recognized, they can see beyond the everyday monotony of their work and try to find ways to improve it. They operate with more focus, passion, and intensity than ever before – as the practice reinforces good habits and shows genuine care from the organization’s side.
5. Celebrating small wins helps employees understand the value of everyday work. By showing them their everyday efforts are valued, managers and organizations can nudge employees towards big wins. Not only does it improve the culture of appreciation in the workplace, but it also brings joy to the process. Employees who get cheered all the way are keener on reaching the destination, as opposed to those who only have deadlines to look forward to. Organizations can have a monthly Employee Appreciation Day to highlight these small wins too.
Employee appreciation looks different in every workplace – it is a no-brainer because each work culture is different. But at the end of the day, the culture boils down to the employees of the organization, who want to be seen, heard, and appreciated for who they are. Helping them get that appreciation in a complex organization can be challenging, but it can start with a genuine thank you.