Appreciate Your Employees’ Success and Be Amazed!
“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” –William James
In a tightening job market, companies are going to great lengths to formulate competitive compensation, incentives, and reward strategies that attract and retain top talent. While this effort is not wasted, reward systems alone may not be enough to keep employees. Salaries can be matched, incentives bettered, and rewards exceeded by companies seeking to steal away key employees. More is needed to engage employees and create loyalty beyond paychecks and prizes.
Most executives know more about the reported results of their people’s work than the individual, often heroic, efforts that went into achieving those results. Executives are hired for their ability to manage complex systems and produce results through people and capital. However, despite this, relatively little training is allocated to meeting the human need for appreciation and recognition—yet this can have a dramatic impact on company performance.
Employees do their best work when they feel known, understood, and appreciated by their leaders and peers. In a 2004 Boston Consulting Group study of 200,000 employees worldwide, employees ranked ”feeling appreciated” first among 26 key workplace factors, including compensation.1 When leadership implements a plan to demonstrate genuine appreciation for their people, employees engage in a higher level of discretionary effort, which should be a major objective for any human capital strategy.
It is harder to feel loyal to someone you don’t know. Leaders should get to know all their people and interact on a regular basis. Recognizing and expressing appreciation begins with leaders occasionally stepping out of the high-level executive flow of things and experiencing firsthand the effort employees are making to produce results.
Leadership should create a recognition strategy that celebrates individual and team efforts across all levels and functions. Recognition should include everything from grand displays of appreciation for annual goal achievement, to a simple heartfelt note recognizing personal effort in the face of overwhelming challenges—and everything in between. Such strategies should be encouraged at all levels of the company: manager-to-team members, peer-to-peer. Recognition and appreciation should become a core competency of the company.
Leaders who make this effort will be amazed at everything their people are doing for the success of the firm. Genuine expressions of appreciation will ignite employee’s discretionary effort and secure their loyalty in the face of most any challenge or outside offer.
1 Decoding Global Talent, The Boston Consulting Group, October 2014, p.16. (500 words) ppb: KSR 5/19