Employee Appreciation Wasn’t Built In A Day.

March 3, 2016 Sarah Payne

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Actually, according to a user on Quora, it has taken about 1,009,491 days to build Rome, based on the traditional founding of the city on April 21, 753 BCE. It’s still being built today. The point is, important work takes time. Why should we take stock in this today?

Because tomorrow, March 4th, is officially Employee Appreciation Day. Break out the balloons! Bring in the free pizza! Say thank you!

Hold on a second. That last part—saying “thank you”—sounds right. But why should we celebrate our employees just one day a year? After all, most people don’t withhold gratitude for their friends and family. Why should the workplace be any different?

How about employee appreciation YEAR?

Do you want to build a healthy, productive corporate culture? You need happy employees. And the two criteria that most impact happiness are gratitude and appreciation. This is why employee appreciation should be every day, not every March 4th.

In fact, The Boston Consulting Group and The Network recently conducted a survey of 200,000 people from 189 countries and found that the most important job element for all people is appreciation for their work.

Chart of ranking factors for happiness on the job

Second on the list is good relationships in the workplace—whether with colleagues or with superiors. Workers care more about “softer” factors than compensation when it comes to their happiness at work.

Appreciation makes employees happy. So why don’t we appreciate more? In the HBR article, “Why Appreciation Matters So Much,” Tony Schwartz explains, “Oddly, we’re often more experienced at expressing negative emotions—reactively and defensively, and often without recognizing their corrosive impact on others until much later, if we do at all.”

He cites a research study by Marcial Losada, which found that on high performing teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1. The ratio for low-performing teams is .36 to 1.

To begin building more appreciation in your team and your organization, here are 4 tips from that HBR article:


  1. “Above all else, do no harm.” It’s costing our businesses too much to de-value employees, so focus on the good. In one Glassdoor survey, 81% percent of employees said they will work harder when their boss shows appreciation, as opposed to only 38% who will work harder when a boss is demanding and 37% because they fear losing a job.
  2. Start by appreciating your own work. Begin by asking yourself at the end of each day what you rightly feel proud of. Appreciating yourself will help you openly appreciate others.
  3. Notice what others are doing right. WorkHuman speaker Shawn Achor advises leaders: “If you want to set the tone or mood, make sure you get some of the first words in [and set a positive tone.] Then sit back and watch how people’s engagement and motivation improve in response to your power lead. It’s on the the most effective tools in [my] book.”
  4. Be specific about what you value. Need help with this one? Get three quick tips for how to give effective thanks in our previous blog post here and 101 effective words to use in recognition here.

What will you do to show appreciation for your employees this year? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. And as a token of appreciation to you, our blog readers, use code WH16EA241 by March 7th to get two WorkHuman registrations for the cost one. With sessions on recognition, mindfulness, performance coaching, and more, WorkHuman will give you actionable next steps for appreciating your employees all year long.

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The Anatomy of Appreciation: Tips for Effective Thanks

6 Famous Thank You Letters: How to Say Thanks and Be Heard

In Search of Happiness at Work

25 Great Statistics on Employee Recognition

The Witness Effect: How Social Recognition and Gratitude Impact Everyone

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