Keep Employees Engaged by Personalizing Appreciation

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When we talk about employee engagement, we’re talking about the emotional commitment an employee has to their work, their team’s goals, and their company’s mission.

Essentially, it is a term that tries to capture an employee’s dedication, enthusiasm, and ability to do what’s necessary to help the organization succeed.

One reason employee engagement has gained popularity over the last decade is because it: a) is measurable (which business and organizational leaders like!); and b) has been shown to be tied to a variety of employee characteristics, including their willingness to learn, their commitment to get a job done, and the likelihood that they will stay with their current employer.


The challenge leaders face is to answer, “What increases employee engagement?” and “How do you make that happen?”

Companies and organizations can chase employee engagement, when what they really want are the building blocks that result in employees being more engaged. And we clearly know (both from research and from observation) that a key way to get employees to be more committed to and excited about their job is for them to feel truly valued by those with whom they work.

While a number of factors contribute to employee engagement (e.g. feeling they are contributing to the mission of the organization, having appropriate input into decisions), how valued and appreciated employees feel by their supervisor and colleagues is a huge contributor to the level of commitment an employee has to the organization.

Unfortunately, many employee recognition programs don’t really “hit the mark” for most individual workers, since these programs are often group-based communications and don’t do the work to find out the individual ways that workers actually feel appreciated.

This is one of the reasons our Appreciation at Work resources have had such a positive impact—because we help supervisors identify the unique ways their colleagues experience encouragement and help them communicate appreciation regularly and authentically.


What is authentic appreciation?

A key concept to understand is that not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways. That is, not everyone might value a verbal compliment.

From our work with over 240,000 employees who have taken our Motivating By Appreciation Inventory, less than 50% choose words of affirmation as their primary appreciation language. Some people feel valued when you spend individual time with them. Others appreciate working together on tasks or getting some practical help.

In fact, we’ve identified five languages of appreciation important in the workplace: Words of Appreciation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gifts, and Appropriate Physical Touch.

Once you learn a person’s language you can communicate appreciation more effectively and efficiently: spend time with those who value time, send notes to those who are impacted by them, help someone who will be grateful for the assistance, and give a gift to someone who will appreciate the thought.


Core principles for effectively communicated appreciation

In working with employees from thousands of companies across the world, we’ve found five key factors necessary for employees to truly feel valued:

  • Make sure your praise is specific and personal.

The most common mistake organizations and supervisors make is that their communication is general and impersonal. They send blast emails: “Good job. Way to go team.” But this has no specific meaning to the individual who stayed late to get the project completed.

Use your colleague’s name and tell them specifically what they do that makes your job easier.

  • Realize that other types of actions can be more impactful than words for many people.

Some employees do not value verbal praise (the “words are cheap” mentality). For many people, they have grown to not believe compliments from others, expecting them primarily to be an act of manipulation. Other actions can be more impactful for these individuals, like spending time with them or helping them get a task done. Continue reading here…

Origin: Bonusly Blog

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