As employees spend a significant percentage of their waking hours at work, they expect more than a paycheck and benefits; they expect appreciation. But how appreciated do they feel? And how many organizations have a culture of appreciation? A recent study by Wakefield Research and Blueboard tried to find out the answers.
For most working professionals, work takes up a major percentage of their week. It also takes up significant energy, focus, and attention. And the efforts put into work increased post the pandemic. Of course, pay and employee benefits, such as insurance and workspace perks, are involved as a reward. But what about employee appreciation?
Today, people want more than a paycheck. They want to feel appreciated for their work. Moreover, appreciation and recognition significantly affect a person’s mental health, productivity, and retention. But how appreciated do employees really feel? And how many companies have a culture of appreciation?Â
To answer these questions and more, Wakefield Research conducted a studyOpens a new window on behalf of Blueboard.Â
The study found that about 67% of employees do not always feel appreciated for their work. Further, 42% of employees think their companies lack a strong culture of appreciation. About 57% feel less than 100% secure in their job. This percentage is higher among respondents who say their organizations lack a strong culture of appreciation (64%).
What the Data Tells Us About the Current State of Appreciation
Not feeling appreciated at work is more than a bad employee experience. It directly affects how secure and engaged employees feel. At the moment, both businesses and employees are going through turbulent times. Employees, specifically, are feeling insecure and anxious due to the economic upheaval, a potential recession, and mass layoffs, especially in the tech industry.
On the other hand, companies are dealing with economic uncertainties, a tight labor market, and a lack of suitable talent. They are also dealing with employees who are worried, exhausted, disengaged, and looking out for new job opportunities.Â
The problem is heightened among employees with marginalized identities, who constantly feel undervalued at work. For example, according to studiesOpens a new window , women and people of color are usually assigned to â€œoffice houseworkâ€ tasks or other responsibilities with a lesser scope of appreciation.
The unconscious and systemic biases broaden the appreciation gap for such marginalized workers. And the Wakefield Research study’s findings validate this. About 50% of people of color and 53% of LGBTQ+ employees said their organizations lacked a culture of appreciation required for their success, compared to 42% of employees overall. Moreover, 64% of people of color and 64% of LGBTQ+ employees said they felt less than 100% secure in their job, compared to 57% of employees overall.Â
A strong culture of appreciation and recognition helps companies affirm to employees that their hard work matters and they are in the right organization.
Develop a Culture of Appreciation
Given today’s labor and economic climate, appreciating employees who give their best to the organization should be one of the top priorities for HR and organizational leaders this year. Fortunately, leaders can take a few key actions to address employee appreciation gaps in their organizations.Â
A good start is giving all hard-working employees a shout-out on Employee Appreciation Day. However, a one-off action is insufficient to create employee engagement and a sense of belonging. Companies should build an â€œalways-onâ€ culture of appreciation, and there are several ways to do it. The key is to ensure recognition and appreciation efforts are personal, consistent, and authentic.
Here are a few best practices to build a culture of appreciation.
Ensure appreciation is consistent
Consistency is more critical than a one-off big, flashy gesture. Leaders should develop dedicated initiatives, technologies, processes, and strong cultural norms to support a culture of appreciation. They can also create spot recognition programs to appreciate certain behaviors, milestones, or contributions. For example, they can create an organization-wide channel on communication platforms like Slack to appreciate a colleague for an achievement. Companies can further have formal employee recognition programs periodically.
Make employee appreciation authentic
While big flashy gestures of appreciation have their place, even a small yet thoughtful message can make an employee feel special. The key is to ensure the message is specific, genuine, and timely. Leaders can use a situation-behavior-impact feedback framework to achieve it, describing a situation, discussing the particular employee’s behavior, and highlighting how the behavior positively impacted the team and the organization.
Keep it personal
Appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all. While some employees may prefer a public display of appreciation, some may not. It is important to understand the employees’ preferred language of recognition and tailor appreciation accordingly. Companies can also provide employees the power to choose their rewards and experience if possible. Collecting data and anecdotal evidence while providing appreciation touchpoints can help unlock further resources to prioritize employee appreciation for a greater impact.
Prioritizing Employee Appreciation Has Benefits
A culture of regular and authentic appreciation offers several benefits. For starters, it improves employee engagement. It also has other benefits, such as lowered employee turnover, improved morale, and growth in the sense of belonging and connection. According to a recent Gallup and Workhuman studyOpens a new window , when appreciation and recognition hit the mark, employees are 56% less likely to look for other opportunities and 4x as likely to be engaged. Employees are also 5x more likely to feel connected to the organization’s culture.
As organizations and employees try to navigate the challenging labor and economic climate, appreciation plays a major role in bringing both closer to each other. When organizations create an always-on culture of appreciation, employees feel more engaged, their morale and productivity improve, their sense of connection to the organization improves, and everybody wins.