How appreciation changes the workplace… When shown in a way that matters!

Feeling genuinely valued and appreciated in the workplace has a tremendous impact on employee satisfaction, engagement, and performance. However, in many workplaces, managers and leadership often forget to recognize the hard work of their staff. When employees feel their efforts go unnoticed, they begin to experience a decline in morale, disengagement, and burnout. As an ironic tragedy, these symptoms manifest as performance issues, which are then addressed by management in performance reviews with performance objectives. This focus on performance only exacerbates the real issue and leaves employees feeling even more disengaged from your organization.

As a leader within your organization, making your employees feel valued should be a top priority. By cultivating a culture of appreciation and intentionally recognizing the contributions of your staff, you can completely transform your workplace, which leads to optimism, an increased interest in the success of the organization, and motivation among your employees. 

In this blog, I will discuss the importance of creating a company culture that prioritizes the celebration of one another’s successes. If you are looking for ways to boost engagement through morale and decrease your turnover rate, and improve performance and productivity in your company, continue reading! 

Why Appreciation Matters

You may think to yourself, “This article isn’t for me. My employees know I appreciate them!” I’m here to tell you that this probably isn’t true! In fact, an overwhelming number of workers report feeling underappreciated at their workplace. According to a Glassdoor employee appreciation survey:

  • 81% of employees are motivated to work harder because their boss is appreciative of their work
  • Only 38% of employees are motivated when their boss is demanding of them
  • Over half of all employees (53%) claim they would have stayed at former jobs longer if they had been shown adequate appreciation

If you are a leader or manager within your organization, it is crucial for you to understand that your employees won’t automatically assume that you appreciate them! According to these numbers, employees need compliments as positive feedback and affirmation from their employers to do their best at their jobs. By showing appreciation to your staff, not only do you increase their opinion of you and the workplace, but you are also working to improve staff retention, increase productivity, and inspire passion and care for work amongst your staff. 

Additionally, as the leadership or management within your organization shows appreciation for their staff, coworkers will be more eager to show appreciation to one another! Your efforts will have an exponential effect within your organization as you model appreciation for your employees. When your employees notice you going out of your way to support them, they will want to go out of their way to support one another, which works to build a positive, encouraging company culture! This is a basic human tendency called reciprocation; in general, people tend to treat others the way they have been treated. Imagine the benefits to your customers and clients with staff who are appreciated.

Signs of Underappreciation

Maybe you are reading this article and thinking, “I do my best to appreciate my employees, but how do I know I’m doing enough?” Oftentimes, leaders and managers have the best intentions to meet the needs of their staff but fail to actually do so. When your employees feel underappreciated for too long, the signs will start to show. Have you noticed any of these behaviors or attitudes in your work environment? 

  • Discouragement: The literal definition of discouragement is “lack of courage.” When employees feel underappreciated, they may “lose heart” with their work. If your employee thinks the work they do won’t matter, why should they try?
  • Irritability and Resistance: Constantly feeling as if they are not valued may lead your employees to become upset or even angry while at work. If this feeling persists, they may even become resistant to new procedures, tasks, or change within the organization.
  • Increased Absences or Tardiness: One of the most tangible signs of dissatisfaction with their work environment is when your employees start missing more work. Consistently showing up late or not even showing up at all conveys the message, “I don’t want to be here.”
  • Cynicism/Sarcasm: When employees who are normally kind and pleasant begin to respond to things with cynicism and sarcasm, this is a subtle but sure-fire sign that your employees are feeling hurt, upset, or angry. 
  • Apathy and Passivity: A person feeling apathy will often act passively in the workplace. People become passive when they believe their actions don’t matter and that whatever they may try won’t make a difference. 
  • Social Withdrawal: If you notice an employee or coworker is declining invitations to go out to lunch or hang out after work, or if they seem to simply be less willing to chat with the rest of the team, this could be a sign of burnout. 
  • Negativity in the Workplace: Positive remarks are replaced with cutting remarks, intense negative reactions, and overly critical feedback. When the overall work environment is characterized by negative communication styles, encouragement and appreciation are in dire need by all. 

When you start to see an employee- or even your entire staff-  exhibit one or more of these behaviors, that means it’s time to make a change. If these behaviors go unaddressed and no effort is made to change the culture of your workplace, you will continue to see your company culture reflect a lack of productivity, motivation, and passion. 

Ways to Show Appreciation

If you’re seeing a significant dip in morale but aren’t sure why, what are you supposed to do? There are actually five main categories of ways through which people feel appreciation- words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts. These five modes of appreciation-showing offer a great perspective on how to effectively communicate to your teammates that you value them!

Words of Affirmation

One of the easiest and most valuable forms of validation you can give to your employees is with your words! Words of affirmation refer to any sort of verbal appreciation, praise, or gratitude. In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned that fires in the workplace are often ignited with our words. What if, instead, we used our words to put out the fires? Some examples include:

  • One-on-one meetings
  • Verbal acknowledgement with commendation in front of other team members
  • Written communication giving positive feedback
  • Public recognition of team accolades (ex: a peer recognition system that allows employees to acknowledge one another’s hard work)

Quality Time

Another way to show appreciation to your employees is by carving out intentional time to connect with your employees. When you do this, your employees feel a sense of value knowing you care about who they are, not just what they do. Spending time with the members of your organization also builds trust between yourself and them. Some easy ways to spend quality time with your team include:

  • Involvement in staff lunches or outings
  • Forming personal connections through shared experiences
  • Focused attention on individuals, “over a tea/coffee/glass of water”
  • Help tidying up an individual’s workspace (if they are open to it and want it)

Acts of Service

Oftentimes, when people feel burnt out or overwhelmed, taking something off their plate or lightening their load can be a great way to show them you appreciate them and their hard work. This can look like:

  • Flexibility with deadlines (when possible)
  • Offering assistance with complicated tasks
  • Answering questions and offering opinions/solutions when they are asked for 

Physical Touch

Although it may sound strange, many people feel appreciated by simple, friendly gestures of touch! In the workplace, you want to make sure you keep physical touch appropriate and professional. Always make sure you have someone’s consent before offering physical touch! Examples of generally acceptable touch in the workplace include: 

  • Handshakes
  • High-fives and fist bumps
  • Pats on the back

Every person is different. Some people may not want to even give a high five, while others might appreciate the occasional hug. It’s important that, if you choose to show appreciation with physical touch, you know each individual’s boundaries in that regard. This is especially important to consider when interacting with people of different cultures. Depending on the culture, sometimes a hug is more appropriate than a handshake!


If you want to show your appreciation for your employees in a tangible way, you can always give them gifts! Gifts do not have to be grandiose or overly expensive- even small gifts, such as someone’s favorite candy or a book you think they’ll love, are a great way to show your employees you care about them as people! Some ways to do this include:

  • Breakfast or lunch paid for by the company
  • Birthday gifts related to their specific hobbies/interests
  • Pay raises and bonuses
  • Company-wide experiences 

In order for you to show your employees that you truly value them, you have to know what things make them feel appreciated! These things will differ depending on the individual and your organization’s culture. However, I hope that the options listed will give you a great starting point as you work to make appreciation a value within your organization! If you take the time to get to know your employees and the things that make them feel appreciated within the workplace, you can significantly improve your organization’s culture and the attitudes of your employees and coworkers!

Don’t overlook the need your employees have to feel appreciated. As a leader within your organization, it’s up to you to create a culture of appreciation by showing your employees how much you value their efforts, time, and skills. By giving genuine recognition daily, you have an immense opportunity to shape employee engagement and fulfillment. Seize it, and make appreciation a positive force in your workplace. Do you not think that this will ripple out to include the appreciation of the leadership too. I do as I have seen it happen.

The Fortlog Advantage

Organizations across North America have been benefiting from FORTLOG’s Interpersonal Crisis Management, Coaching & Consulting services for over 30 years, counting on John to help shepherd them through their most challenging storms. Today, a growing number of workplaces benefit from John’s proven strategies, systems and speeches that focus on integrating core-value practices “not just policies and procedures''.

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