The last working day of February is the Employee Appreciation Day. This year, it is marked on 2nd of March. And while there is no doubt that employers should value their staff every day of the year as compared to just one, this might just be the nudge leadership figures need to change their attitude in the workplace.
What is it?
The Employee Appreciation Day is not an official holiday by any means. It has nonetheless become increasingly popular in the corporate world where managers have accounted for the fact that many of their employees value more the recognition and empowerment of the individuals over the slight increase in the paycheck.
The Stats and Science on Employee Appreciation
For a good few decades now, both science and statistical surveys of workers provide us with irrefutable data on why and how actively and consistently showing your appreciation for your employees is vital for the sustainability of your organization.
Money vs corporate culture
According to a relatively recent Gallup survey, only 1 in 3 employees who feel engaged with the organization would consider leaving their current position for a similar job paying 20% more. This means that for 2/3 of the workforce, the size of the paycheck is not the only determinant for choosing a workplace. At the same time, more than half of the workers who do not feel involved with their organization would not think twice before moving on for the fifth increase in salary.
The need for appreciation
It is not about being insecure or about being needy! Humans are social creatures and our motivation to contribute to our society directly correlates to the feedback we get on our efforts. Only with positive feedback and the right type of incentivizing, can workers remain motivated and involved in their work. Fehr et al. reviewed in the journal Academy of Management the benefits of gratitude for both organizations and employees. And while everyone would be happy to be financially rewarded for their hard work, research data shows that the expression of gratitude when due and the presentations of opportunities to grow and further develop individual strengths is very highly valued among employees of various age groups.
How to tell if your employees are unhappy?
Some obvious signs can alert a manager that their employees do not feel sufficiently appreciated.
This is probably the most obvious sign that things in your organization are not optimized in a way that your employees feel like they matter. Some people like to challenge themselves with new projects, but the truth is that everyone feels uncomfortable and insecure when at a new position and it is exhausting for people to always be the novices. If your best experts still chose to leave at high rates, the existence of these opportunities to do so is not the only factor – your employee retention strategy is staling.
Lack of personal investment
Limited personal engagement and lack of new ideas are also very telling. If your employees do not feel motivated to brainstorm and discuss ways to organize and improve the performance of the company, it probably means that they do not put a second thought after they are done with the absolutely necessary personal activities. Passionate employees will come up with ideas and will be excited to share them, knowing they’d be at least considered by the team and management.
Isolation and lack of cooperation
Surprising for many managers still, is the fact that high performing employees would feel appreciated also when given the chance to share their effective practices with their colleagues. Top employees often have a vision for their organizations and are able to think strategically. They often also recognize the importance of the whole team performing to the best of their abilities. Thus, if your staff is not actively cooperating and people would rather finalize things on their own, you should be worried that they feel underappreciated and their opinions – unrecognized.
Know your employees
While finding a way to recognize and strengthen the involvement and personal investment of your employees in the organization is key, managers should be aware of the pitfalls of ineffective recognition programs.
You should ask yourself:
- Would your recognition program incentivize people to cooperate and collaborate, or will it divide and push towards unnecessary competition between colleagues in your teams?
- Is the organization of recreational events for your employees what would make them happy or will they feel forced to participate in events completely removing them from their comfort zones and look like they enjoy it?
- Would a monthly stamp ‘Employee of the month’ be really beneficial to anyone (including the winner)? Or is it better to give the chance to your top-performing people to choose how further develop in their field and provide them with support and mentorship in the process?
In the end, whichever method you decide to show your employees that you value them, make sure you stick with it. The continuous effort to show you care will pay off more than most other investments in your organization and it can cost you next to nothing. You can use the Employee Appreciation Day as an excuse to start a sort of reward program, but you should make sure that you don’t just go through the moves if you want your employees themselves to go the extra mile for your organization.