Appreciation is powerful

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said, “The deepest principle of human nature is the desire to be appreciated.” This is the time of year when many businesses, schools, and organizations tend to recognize employees, volunteers, and students who have excelled in their performances. Appreciation and praise make people happy.

Clearly, a company cannot use celebration as an alternative to base pay; however, a solid pay approach and strong supporting appreciation are good partners in creating a positive workplace culture.

At a recent business networking breakfast, someone at my table mentioned that his company had just honored a long-term employee with a nice gift and a trip. That comment led to a group discussion with ideas on ways a smaller company can acknowledge “over and above” behavior and deeds without breaking the bank. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • Find opportunities to give credit to team members in writing and vocally in person. Tout their accomplishment(s) in a company newsletter or business wide email.
  • Write personal notes of appreciation to every member of a team that completed a project.
  • Give tickets to area events (so many to choose from here in Dane County).
  • Take the “honoree” to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Include that person’s family when appropriate.
  • Show/display complimentary letters/emails from happy clients.
  • Create a bulletin board where employee, volunteer, and/or students’ monthly accomplishments can be noted.
  • Send key people to business/educational events, meetings, and skill-building seminars.
  • Ask team members how you can best show appreciation, and then give them what they ask for. We did this at our business and discovered that team members wanted longer lunch hours so they could run errands that never seemed to get done on time. What a surprise! Other companies that have asked this question have had answers as simple as “a better parking spot.”

Recognition and appreciation experts offer the following suggestions:

  • Recognize what is important in the business/organization.
  • Communicate recognition criteria.
  • Specify the reason for the recognition.
  • Match the recognition to the achievement. Align the rewards to the business/organization goals.
  • Personalize the recognition to the individual or team.
  • Make sure the appreciation/recognition is timely.
  • Make sure it’s creative, customized, fun, and frequent.
  • Be sincere. Don’t praise simply because someone says it’s the right thing to do. Praise behavior that warrants positive recognition.
  • Involve everyone.
  • Review the program at least once a year and refresh it periodically to keep the interest going.

A business coach friend shares that catching team members or volunteers in the act of doing something special calls for immediate praise and recognition for their efforts. Folks want their work to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

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