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Are Your Employees Feeling Appreciated at Work? Here’s How You Know

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Happy workers tend to do their jobs better. This might be a no-brainer, but research shows that happy employees are 13 percent more productive.

Published on:
October 27, 2020
Illustrations by:
Written by:
Andre Riley

Happy workers tend to do their jobs better. This might be a no-brainer, but research shows that happy employees are 13 percent more productive.

One path to employee happiness and engagement is ensuring workers feel appreciated. This isn’t quite as easy as it should be. Employees may smile and say everything is fine, but actually feel like they aren’t being properly recognized or heard or respected. They may work hard but not make the extra effort to go from good to great. And they may leave when something better comes along.

Group meeting at table

Most good managers and proactive organizations appreciate employees; the challenge is for those employees to actually believe it. Some signs that your people are feeling appreciated at work and know you value their skills and dedication include:

  1. They Welcome Feedback
  2. They Appreciate Each Other
  3. They Stick Around
  4. The Bottom Line Improves
  5. They Embrace Gamification

1. They Welcome Feedback

Constructive feedback offers a means to engage employees and nurture positive relationships. The key word here is “constructive”—which can often be lacking in formal performance reviews and informal feedback. Research by Gallup found that just 29 percent of employees think job reviews are fair, and only 26 percent think assessments are accurate.

However, employees who feel appreciated at work tend to welcome that feedback and even crave it. They embrace constructive, positive criticism, especially if a manager is already good at recognizing workers’ achievements when they are performing exceptionally. If feedback is coming from a negative place and the only time employees hear a boss’s opinion is when they’re being put down, they’ll likely nod politely and adjust their work attitude and habits just enough to stay out of trouble.

Of course, many companies simply can’t (or don’t) conduct formal performance reviews more than once a year, if that. Implementing recognition programs helps remind employees they are valued year-round—and not just when they are sitting across the desk from their boss. Simply telling someone “Good job!” when they do a good job goes a long way toward feeling appreciated at work.

2. They Appreciate Each Other

Employee recognition starts a positive cycle that draws energy from itself. Appreciated employees who feel great about their jobs and empowered to do their best work are more likely to pay that forward by giving their coworkers positive recognition. As employees inspire each other to do great work, the number of employees who are feeling appreciated at work increases even more, thus creating a better company culture and building engagement.

Some employees naturally offer praise and appreciation for their coworkers, but others might need a gentle nudge. Managers who outwardly recognize employees set an example for those employees to follow. A “good job!” on a department-wide chat or email invites people to follow up with their own congratulations.

3. They Stick Around

In 2019, voluntary turnover—employees leaving a job because they wanted to work somewhere else—cost American businesses $630 billion, according to the Work Institute. What those numbers will look like for 2020 is still unknown (especially because some cash-strapped companies have been offering voluntary buyouts and retirements), but if employees aren’t feeling appreciated at work, a pandemic-fueled recession might not be enough to keep them from bolting.

With that in mind, if your turnover numbers are low or dwindling, you might be doing a good job appreciating employees—even, and maybe especially, during the pandemic. Proactive appreciation strategies, such as recognition efforts and employee reward programs, aren’t enough to necessarily stop attrition, but they go a long way toward inspiring, encouraging, and motivating workers to stick around. This retention leads to our next sign of employees feeling appreciated at work.

4. The Bottom Line Improves

Employee engagement isn’t just a catchphrase—it’s a reliable predictor of workers’ contributions (or lack thereof) to the organization’s success. Gallup highlighted the power of engagement in a 2017 report, finding that highly engaged business units:

  • Are absent 41 percent less
  • Are 17 percent more productive
  • Achieve a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent boost in sales
  • Are 21 percent more profitable

Appreciated employees find it easier to be—and stay—engaged with their jobs. They look forward to interacting and supporting each other, going the extra mile for customers, and embracing every challenge thrown at them. They also build a strong company culture and tend not to leave. This all adds up to more productivity, which inevitably helps the bottom line.

So many factors contribute to profitability that you can’t necessarily pin a healthy bottom line solely on employees feeling appreciated at work. Plenty of companies with miserable employees do well, and businesses with a contented workforce can struggle. Yet, engaged, valued employees clearly contribute to better results—and then feel more appreciated knowing they helped achieve that improvement.

5. They Embrace Gamification

Gamification offers a fun, engaging way for employees to work toward goals, earn recognition and rewards for their efforts, and become inspired to work harder and smarter. However, if workers don’t feel particularly appreciated, they might think a gamification program isn’t worth their time or effort.

Therefore, an uptick in gamification participation—as well as a surge in employees redeeming rewards—is a promising sign that workers are happy with how you’re recognizing and supporting them. A gamification initiative itself shows you appreciate employees and will reward them for delivering excellent work. When more of them buy in, it’s added proof that they’re feeling that appreciation.

All industries benefit from employees who feel appreciated, but retail, automotive, and small businesses can particularly gain a significant advantage when their people feel valued. Recognition and gamification programs help build that appreciation. Check out our e-book on reward programs to learn more about this impactful and fun strategy.

Want to learn more about how Arcade can help you get the most out of your employee incentive and rewards program? Check out our Recognition & Rewards page for more information.

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