How to Make Employees Feel Valued

By Joy Belus on March 3, 2016 in Employers, Employment News

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If you don’t prioritize making your employees feel valued, there’s a good chance you will lose them. CareerBuilder’s recent survey found that 1 in 5 employees are determined to find a new job in 2016—and it’s closer to 1 in 3 amongst Millennials.

The best way to make them feel valued? Show them that they are appreciated and that their contributions matter. Sounds simple, right?

Well, not quite that simple. Four conditions need to be present in order for employees feel truly appreciated, according to Paul White, Ph.D., co-author of Rising above a Toxic Workplace.

Per White, when you communicate appreciation to your employees, you need to do so:

  1. Consistently. Waiting until the annual performance review won’t do it.
  2. Through the methods and with the words that matter to the receiver. Everyone feels appreciated differently. Some value words of affirmation, some appreciate offers of help, and still others like to receive rewards or public praise. It’s important to pay attention to how the recipient experiences your efforts to show appreciationnot how you yourself do.
  3. In such a way that it is personal and specific to the receiver. Make sure to call out what the specific person you are attempting to recognize did to contribute to the goal. Team-based recognition is nice, but it doesn’t have the personal feel or impact of one-to-one recognition.
  4. In a manner that that the receiver understands to be genuine and authentic. Be wary of inauthentic communication. All the work you’ve done to show your appreciation can be derailed if the receiver doesn’t see it as genuine. This can come down to things like a history of inconsistent interactions, perceived ulterior motives, one’s facial expressions, and even tone of voice.

Obviously, this is no easy task to “manage”and that’s kind of the point. White rightly points out that appreciation should not be limited to the manager-to-employee relationship. Meaningful appreciation is a person-to-person activity. It can and should be communicated by anyone, to anyone, regardless of position. Upper management can seek to contribute by fostering an environment where the appreciation and help of others is encouraged, and cutthroat competition is not.

It is also important to give recognition and rewards to your best people when they earn it. When they take on new responsibilities, when they save the day, when they clearly outperform most others, that is the time to show you value them. Falling back on the calendared performance review schedule can undermine your appreciation and retention efforts. You may wind up making your best employees feel like just another cog in the machine, which is not the goal.

When you’re developing methods to express value, go beyond the basics and get creative! Check out these 11 expert tips to creatively show your employees how much you appreciate them. Here are the top 3 we like best:

  1. Put the power of recognition and reward in your employees hands. Let them reward one another using software like YouEarnedIt.
  2. Give employees unexpected extra time off or another surprise as a way to recognize their contributions and hard work (but only if that’s what they value!).
  3. Give them a platform (such as an internal blog, or a speaking role at a company lunch) to share their thoughts, experiences, and guidance. This is particularly impactful when they are not already in a training or management role, because it validates them and says, “You have something valuable to offer, and we see that.”

Don’t reward or recognize everyone equally—doing something for the team doesn’t recognize an individual’s contributions. But at the same time, as Forbes points out, you must also be sure you don’t play favorites. It’s key to actively seek out opportunities to praise and reward each and every team member.

Making a concerted effort to consistently recognize your team members, and to foster an environment where they want to recognize and encourage one another, can work wonders for your workplace. And importantly, your company’s retention of valued employees will likely increase!

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