Appreciation Deprivation

What do employees cite as their most common grievance? Is it lack of a better wage, promotion opportunities, more benefits, flexible hours? Lack of appreciation is overwhelmingly the number one complaint, according to a recent study of the American worker. Appreciation deprivation is stifling the morale and motivation of the work force as much as anything. Why is there such a diminutive supply in today’s work environment?

Perhaps we are too caught up in the frantic pace of deadlines, projects, and rapid changes to adequately acknowledge those around us who contribute. We have basically forgotten the common courtesy of expressing gratitude. Maybe there is a very competitive culture within a company that wouldn’t dare allow such kudos for a colleague, let alone a subordinate. Bloat someone else’s self-esteem? Never! The problem with this mentality is an energy stagnation created by withholds, not to mention an atmosphere of resentment and mistrust.

In a sense, the quality of appreciation has been marginalized as an “Annual Appreciation Day” in many companies. There’s nothing wrong with an annual bash to celebrate achievements and unity. But imagine if you said “I love you” to your spouse only once a year. Ongoing relationships of any nature require more reinforcement if they are truly valued. Appreciation day needs to be every day within a company. This doesn’t mean managers should be merrily skipping around dispensing plaques and awards on a daily basis. A simple note of thanks for a job well done, a word of encouragement when someone is having a day from hell, or a compliment of any kind will suffice nicely.

As a broader macro-strategy of embedding appreciation into the company culture, why not start from day one, when a new person is hired. Have them fill out a form that asks them to name their favorite hobby, food, drink, music, cultural activity, athletic event, mode of relaxation, etc. Now you know how to specifically reward them, instead of a generic plaque or award. Think of the impact it could have on staff retention.

A consistent show of appreciation to employees will do more to maintain loyalty, morale, and productivity than any other idea. And it doesn’t have to be showy. Each morning on your way to work, ask yourself, “Who am I going to sincerely appreciate today?” It may be a manager, salesperson, assistant, secretary, customer service rep, or the custodian. Encourage others to do it. A complimentary line may just impact the bottom line.

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