Employee Appreciation: How Can Managers Do Better?

While employee appreciation is not shown as often as it should be, often the efforts go in vain when it is done incorrectly. A recent survey by O. C. Tanner Institute published by HumanResources found that 33% of employee recognition is not properly done and only 61% of employees globally feel appreciated. The scenario is not encouraging. Some employers lack the culture of recognizing employees, and others would need to ask questions such as “when is employee appreciation day?” before making plans to recognize them. The research involved 14,000 participants from 12 countries to understand “Talent Magnet” – six crucial elements that encourage employees to join and to remain at their place of work. Indian employees were the highest to admit being appreciated at their workplace, with only 1% ahead of employees from China, according to the result. In the survey, appreciation is not just a mere thank you; it was measured in five scopes: recognition consistency based on performance; acknowledgment from a leader; how frequent the recognition was; the meaningfulness and sincerity of the recognition; and if it’s a habit. The result from 30 days survey showed that recognition expectations from employees are not met by employers.

Number of employees (%) Appreciation scope
57% Received a “thank you” from peer or leader
42% Told they could improve through recognition
28% Received none
27% Received impulsive praise for their performance
26% Received official recognition
20% Were assigned a special project

How managers and leaders can do better in employee appreciation –

1.     Plan employee recognition

Rather than joining the league of managers that would ask “when is employee appreciation day” before they can appreciate employees, make the process deliberate and reward employees when they achieve a milestone or show great performance. Because employees see meetings as highly important to managers, scheduling one just to say “thank you” will help them to see how much you value their extra effort or achievements. Recognition should be part of a corporate culture and not just an HR program.


Some employers lack the culture of recognizing employees, and others would need to ask questions such as “when is employee appreciation day?” before making plans to recognize them.

2.     Prioritize employee recognition

Managers should learn how to say “thank you” at the beginning of a meeting, not at the end. This will be acknowledged by more employees, help them to contribute more to the meeting, aside from being encouraged. This rule of thumb should also be used in a newsletter; pages that appreciate employees are read more than the entire information. Hence, it’s ideal to use the first page to appreciate the employees. From the results, employees would likely feel unappreciated by 38% and less likely to recognize others by 22% if your corporate culture does not prioritize recognition. They would also be 68% more likely to dismiss the value of recognition when received and 40% likely to feel they are not recognized by their colleagues.

3.     Personalize employee recognition

Generalizing appreciation or presenting it to a group, instead of an individual could reduce the efficacy. Almost half of the employees in the survey categorized their recognition at work as empty gestures; this is because they were not personalized. Managers should be specific while appreciating their employees by mentioning names and what have been accomplished.

4.     Employees should feel irreplaceable

By allowing employees to help others in the areas of their expertise, you are making them feel irreplaceable. Develop channels through which employees can connect with other team members, mostly new hires or possibly members from another department. This helps them to understand their specific strengths, and in making them feel very useful in your organization. If retention, engagement, and commitment are promised when employees feel appreciated, then managers should do better in recognizing their employees. Any effort to promote job satisfaction using the above-mentioned tips must also appreciate employees concurrently as a corporate culture, not an HR program.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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