Culture can make or break a company. This is what Jake realized a few weeks after moving into his new office. He took on his old job as an HR manager in a new corporation after he quit his old job to change cities. This new job subjected Jake to a very strict work ethic. It was so strict, in fact, that everyone seems to be working at breakneck speed at all times.
In his new office, perfection seems to be the norm. He noticed that not once did a supervisor stop to commend an employee for a job well done. “Perfection” seems to be expected of everyone, and the stress is palpable. Much more palpable, Jake found, when he saw that the attrition rates were nearly double that of his old company.
He knew there was something that needs to be done. But where does Jake start?
The Effect of A Simple Pat on the Back
In any industry, a simple pat on the back can go a long way. According to a study, around 71% of employees mention their immediate supervisor’s appreciation as the most impactful form of employee engagement. While purely psychological in its scope, simple acts of praise can help nudge an employee’s productivity by letting him know that he is positively contributing to the big picture.
Such small acts of kindness are important for the company as a whole, too. For example, A company whose employees are adequately recognized can have as much as 19% less turnover rates than its peers. Recognition makes an employee feel valued, which will make him want to stay with the company for a long time.
However, it turns out that some supervisors intentionally withhold showing appreciation for fear of “negative” repercussions. For one, some supervisors are afraid that appreciation will breed familiarity, which will cause their employees to take advantage of them.
5 Tips For Showing Employee Appreciation
Given the importance of recognition in a company culture (and in reducing employee turnover), how can one effectively show appreciation to one’s employees? Here are some easy ways.
- Treat them like a person. One of the gravest mistakes that can be done with subordinates will be treating them as if they were “subordinate” and beneath you. Acting like you’re above everyone else will make the rank-and-file feel undervalued. They will feel like their company does not care about them. Instead, as a manager, place yourself on their level and relate to their struggles. When they know that you empathize with their concerns, they will see your leadership as a guiding hand instead of a threatening baton.
Of course, this has the prerequisite of relating to them personally. An employer-employee relationship is essentially a business relationship, and such bonds rest heavily on trust and loyalty. Both these qualities are best built when there is a personal bond between both sides.
- Communicate consistently. Picture this: your boss does talk to you regularly, chatting you up about non-work related stuff. However, he does it at exactly 2pm every other day. And after you’re through, he moves to the cubicle across you and repeats the action. This “autopilot” scenario is a little exaggerated, but some supervisors do it like that. Instead of casual and natural communication that happens over time, they do it like it’s part of a job. Communication should be used to build trust and credibility, and it should flow genuinely between the ranks. Make sure to be specific with your approach, too.
Consistent communication should also not be just about idle chatter. Communication should also be about seeking feedback from the employees. This gives their voice value, helping them air out any issues or impediments to their work. On that note…
- Give employees the power to decide. Not all business decisions should be handed out from the upper levels. As the people on the trenches, it is the employees who know the ground the most. Give them a chance to make important decisions that can impact their nature of work. There’s nothing to fear here, as all decisions will be checked for soundness by the higher ups anyway. Knowing that they can help steer the business forward will not only entice them to stay on the ship, it will also give them the incentive to look for new and novel ways to improve the status quo.
- Learn the art of praise. Some companies call “appreciation” by another term: “paycheck”. But while money indeed is a great motivator, the right words of recognition also go a long way.
When praising a person for a job well done, make sure to be specific. Let them know what they did right, and how it made a difference. Make it public, too. It boosts the morale not only of that specific employee, but also that of the rest of the team. It shows them that they too can receive such accolades if they perform well enough.
- Lead them on the path to growth. The most impacting recognition is the one that makes the longest lasting impact. In the office, this comes in the form of personal and professional growth.
Not every employee can be promoted, but each one can be shown how he can progress in the corporate hierarchy. Encourage each employee to grow and contribute in different ways, all the while rewarding them appropriately. This will make them more invested, hence making it less likely that they will jump ship. Make sure they understand the value of what they do, and how it can impact their career growth. This will show them that you believe in them, so much that you lead them to such opportunities.
After creating a program and demonstrating its importance to the top brass, Jake succeeded in slowly but surely creating a friendlier working atmosphere. This came as a breath of fresh air for most employees, substantially reducing the company’s attrition rates. Jake hopes to have started a culture that will thrive down the road, and with the management’s recognition of the importance of his project, it most likely will.