The long-term impact of appreciation and recognition at work

Great job! Happy first year at the company! Keep it up! As an employer, how often do you say these words? As an employee, when was the last time you received recognition for your hard work? Employee appreciation and recognition play a vital role in motivating your team, but how can you foster gratitude at the workplace? 

What we talk about when we talk about recognition, gratitude, and appreciation at work

Recognition stands for acknowledging the outstanding performance of an employee or team—but nurturing a culture of appreciation goes beyond saying “thank you”. 

As the neuroscientist Alex Korb states in one of his articles: “Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle.” Effective and long-term recognition initiatives can help boost your team’s performance by making employees feel relevant. Once employees receive a reward, they’ll look forward to getting another one—and to start praising the work of their co-workers.

  • The virtuous cycle: certain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are released in your bloodstream. Simply put, gratitude makes you feel positive and optimistic, and your body will seek to experience that effect again. For example, let’s say an employee nails his OKRs for the quarter and the manager decides to reward him with a present. The employee will most likely keep up with his performance to get another present in the future.
  • The pay-it-forward effect: also known as Upstream Reciprocity, this behaviour is based on the premise that one act of kindness leads to another. In other words, a person that receives praise or an act of kindness will “pay it forward” to someone else: you help someone because someone helped you. 

Fostering Upstream Reciprocity in the workplace encourages employees to be kinder and more considerate with their co-workers. At the same time, people who are praised for their exceptional performance will also look forward to “giving back” to the company.  

Why are gratitude and recognition so important at work?

Short answer: because it shows your employees that their work matters. Long answer: because employees who don’t receive any kind of feedback or recognition are more likely to think their managers don’t value their work, which leads them to lose interest in their job and ultimately leave the company. 

Developing a culture of gratitude and recognition at work is mutually beneficial for employees and companies, after all, employees who feel valued are happier and work better. Here’s how gratitude can help your team:

  • Boost employee performance: when managers foster gratitude, they are improving employee well-being. A thriving and mentally healthy employee looks forward to helping out more and always raising the bar. 
  • Build up trust and respect: gratitude strengthens social relationships, encouraging Upstream Reciprocity and collaboration both community and work-wise. 
  • Increase employee retention & attract new talent: happy employees stay longer at the company and share their success stories with friends, colleagues, and social media. As an example, let’s consider people who share pictures of their “welcome or kits” when they join a new company. News travels fast, and that post pops up in the feed of many candidates who could be a great fit for the company. 
  • Set ‘the golden’ standard: giving praise and recognition is an efficient way to show other employees what success looks like. This will set the right role model for users to collaborate towards achieving the company’s goals. 
  • Motivate your team: gratitude and praise are contagious. Seeing someone being recognized is inspiring for the rest of the team, and it also brings further visibility into the hard work of others. 

The 3 key steps to foster gratitude at work

When it comes to building a culture of gratitude, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each employee has unique motivations and preferences: some prefer daily feedback while others prefer to discuss their performance on a weekly or monthly basis, some people like to keep their feedback private while others enjoy sharing with their team. However, there’s a simple formula to foster gratitude that you can adapt to any team: give praise, share, repeat.

#1 Give praise

Provide private feedback, give public recognition, award a certificate, gift custom presents, consider work promotions–there are multiple ways to recognize outstanding performance. 

The Leanmote platform allows employers to award employees with points they can exchange for a variety of special gifts previously selected by themselves. Here’s how it works:

1. Michael (the employee) has reached and exceeded his OKRs, so Erica (the employer) decides to recognise him for his work. Erica awards Michael with Quokka Points on the Leanmote platform. 

2. Michael thanks Erica for the recognition and heads to the “Marketplace” section to see the available voucher options and selects the one he likes the most. 

3. Directly from the platform, Michael exchanges his points for the chosen box or voucher. All he has to do now is wait for his present to arrive, or start using his voucher right away!

#2 Spread the news

Let employees share your company’s gratitude-focused culture with their team and colleagues. You can congratulate workers publicly on a group meeting with their team, via the company’s comms channels, or let them tell their followers on LinkedIn and other work communities.

Leanmote’s platform is integrated with LinkedIn, allowing employees to easily share their manager’s or co-workers’ positive feedback on social media. Here’s how it works:

When employees receive praise, a “share on LinkedIn” option is displayed. 

When the employee clicks on “Share on LinkedIn”, they are redirected to a pop-up where they can choose to share the good news publicly in a post, or privately through a direct message. 

#3 Give praise on a regular basis

When giving praise, find a healthy balance as regards timing: not too often, but often enough. If positive feedback is given too frequently, it won’t feel natural, and it will start to lose relevance. If employees do not receive positive feedback or encouragement often enough (despite working hard and achieving great results), their morale and performance are likely to be affected. 

The key to keeping this process consistent and balanced is to rely on a platform that allows employers to identify and record important milestones in the work-life of employees on a regular basis. This will allow employers to access the necessary tools to grant rewards at the right time and track the response of each worker throughout their time at the company.

Start fostering appreciation and recognition in your company

Leanmote is an independent channel to recognize employee dedication and hard work. Our platform enables managers to award points based on performance that employees can later redeem in exchange for special presents. With Leanmote’s Linkedin integration, employees can also share their success in their social media channels, driving awareness of company culture and attracting potential new hires. To start fostering gratitude in your workplace, register on our platform for a free trial