The first Friday in March is Employee Appreciation Day. In reality, you should appreciate your employees every day, but if there’s one unmissable day to appreciate employees, this is it.
Appreciation is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
You might assume that “they must know I appreciate them”. You might think appreciation involves flowers or chocolate and you can’t afford it. You might think people haven’t done anything special to deserve appreciation, so you’ll wait a while.
If you’re thinking something along these lines, it’s time to re-evaluate your mindset.
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There really is no excuse to not appreciate your employees all of the time, as the mainstay of how you motivate and lead them.
Why appreciation matters
There are several things in play when we are appreciated by someone.
Firstly, it lets us know that we are being seen for who we are. That we are not an invisible cog in a wheel or another bum on a seat who is non-distinct from the next person. Being seen fuels our sense of self-worth and creates the meaning that all humans are searching for.
Beyond being seen, we are receiving validation that something we bring is valued. Through appreciation we get specific on the things we could do more of. We learn how to make an even greater contribution in the future to someone who matters to us. Basically we will repeat those things that provide validation for us.
We are connecting (and for some this is what makes appreciation uncomfortable) by experiencing emotions that bond the recipient of appreciation closer to the giver. It’s this connection that means people who are appreciated are more co-operative and complete their work faster.
Appreciation doesn’t cost a thing. Heartfelt words of kindness carry more value than gifts and tokens ever could.
How to appreciate effectively
A sentence structure like When-I-Because is a simple way to structure appreciation.
When you read my article
I felt proud that you wanted to learn more about appreciation
Because it shows how much you care about the wellbeing of the people around you
This is just one way of the many options available to you. Get creative, speak from the heart and be mindful that the key elements to include in your appreciation are:
- The observation that triggered positive feelings — something you received, saw or heard about;
- The way this made you feel; and
- The consequences of this action —what good came of it for you and for others?
Appreciating the little things makes a big difference. You don’t need to spot heroic acts to be thankful, just look for things that make you feel good and you’d like to see more often.
Give appreciation one-on-one. Face-to-face is great if that’s easy to arrange, otherwise handwritten, digital or over the phone are all good alternatives when face-to-face isn’t possible.
For the unappreciated
If by chance you are reading this because you’re feeling unappreciated, then firstly thank you for coming. I appreciate you just for being here and reading this far.
Remember you own your feelings, so here are some ways to take charge of your own positivity:
- Don’t compare against others. You only know your whole story not theirs. Listening to the “highlight reel” of other people’s lives can eat away at your self-esteem;
- Appreciation isn’t an entitlement. Hold no expectation of it. When it’s not expected this makes every ounce of appreciation that comes your way a gift;
- Look back to when you last felt appreciated. Why was that, and how is that repeatable now?
- Identify your natural talents. How can more people experience the best of you?
- Give out your own appreciation generously. You’ll be surprised how good it feels for you to put a smile on someone else’s face.
What is your best advice to spread appreciation? Please share your ideas in the comments.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.