Most employees do not feel appreciated or acknowledged. In my work as a trainer and executive coach, the lament I hear most often is from employees who don’t feel their hard work is valued. As Margaret Cousins once said: “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
Here are nine techniques to show employees appreciation and help them feel acknowledged at work.
1. Thank them verbally.
A simple technique is to thank employees verbally for their hard work or when they perform over and above what is expected. A simple, “Great job, Rachael!” can go along way for boosting morale. It only takes about 15 seconds, so there's no excuse for saying you don't have time or you are too busy.
2. Thank them in writing.
When you take time out of your busy day to write a hand-written note (not an email), it makes a very big impression. I used to do this when I was an executive in corporate America, and people would often post my note on their office wall, indicating how important it was to them.
3. Give then small rewards.
One of my clients provides $10 gift cards to their managers for doling out to their direct reports whenever they excel. It may be a gift card for Starbucks or Target, but here is the point: It may only be $10, but the perceived value is much greater.
4. Give them an opportunity.
If an employee is performing at a very high level, give them an opportunity as a token of your appreciation. Tell them, "You know Alexis, you have been doing an amazing job. I wanted to show you my appreciation by sending you to the training program you wanted to attend in San Diego. Congratulations.”
5. Ask them what they want.
Meet with employees on a regular and consistent basis to find out their short-, mid- and long-term goals. Inform them that as their manager, you want to help them achieve those goals. They will appreciate your investment in their success.
6. Send out a group email.
When someone marks an amazing achievement, send out a group email to everyone on the team and copy key executives. Talk about the achievement and thank the employee for their hard work. This shows not only that you appreciate them but allows them to receive accolades from their peers.
7. Assign them to a high-profile project.
A great way to show appreciation is to assign someone to a high-profile project as a gesture of confidence in their abilities and talent. This also gives them a chance to have a higher profile in the company. Make sure to specify that you selected them because of how you've appreciated their great work.
8. Make praise specific.
If you are going to thank team members as a form of appreciation, tell them specifically what it is you appreciate. Don’t say, “Great job.” Instead, say, "Great job on the Dayton report. I loved how it was organized and the research was well done. I am proud of you!” This also makes them want to repeat that behavior.
9. Check-in with them.
A subtle way to show appreciation is to stop by and casually check in with a team member to see how they are doing. People appreciate your spending time with them, and it shows that you care. As H. Jackson Brown Jr once said: “Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.”