Things for organizations to try: Improving Appreciation

We all like to feel appreciated. To turn your recognition into high appreciation, give it with flair.

5 Appreciation - org

1. The Don Draper clause

Supportive management styles that express appreciation makes for happier workers. The act of giving doesn’t just encourage gratitude, it brings out positive emotions, which are contagious and spread through the team. Don Draper, from the TV series Mad Men, likes to shower his employees with personal gifts, why shouldn’t you?

How to do it:

  • Purchase gifts based on employees’ hobbies and likes .
  • Remember, gifts do not need to be expensive, just individualized.
  • Invest time in getting to know people - the more personalized the gift, the more appreciated people feel.
  • Ensure gifts are distributed fairly to avoid accusations of favoritism. Public rewards of good work should be supported by the majority.

Case study

Dynamo PR regularly buys their employees gifts. These include deliveries of chocolate, Winnie-the-Pooh paraphernalia, Givenchy cosmetics, birthday cakes and gift vouchers for theme parks. Lexi Mills, Head of Digital says, “Our employees love it!”

2. Peer bonus

Allow employees to reward colleagues with an on the spot bonus for exceptional work. Public celebration and acknowledgement gives people a sense of accomplishment and pride. And it encourages positive and supportive relationships between colleagues, which in turn improves performance.

How to do it:

  • Set an amount that employees can reward each other with, and a procedure for rewarding the bonus.
  • Publicize the policy and encourage people to get involved by celebrating the first few bonuses.
  • Make the reward relational: we love “team lunch” or "dinner-for-two" rewards, because they signal that we all depend on and support others. They encourage the reward receiver to include others in the recognition too.

Case study

Barry Barber, Kimley-Horn's human-resources director says, “It works because it's real time, and it's not handed down from management. Any employee who does something exceptional receives recognition from their peers within minutes.”

3. Create vertical channels of appreciation

Peer appreciation is horizontal appreciation and it’s powerful because it feels supportive and encouraging. Appreciation from managers and leaders is vertical appreciation. It’s motivational because it usually comes from a respected source, which inspires us to grow and develop our skills.

How to do it:

  • Encourage managers and leaders to make public shout outs to individuals and teams.
  • Provide basic training on the art of appreciation: to be effective it needs to be timely, specific and positive!
  • Tell colleagues that the organization is working to improve appreciation practices, so efforts are not met with surprise and skepticism.
  • Once the initiative is being led by managers, encourage colleagues to consider how they can appreciate their leaders too.
  • Ask leaders to consider how they can find out about the achievements of those teams they don’t connect with as often, to ensure appreciation gets spread evenly.

Case study

Researchers Adam Grant and Francesca Gino have found that when people experienced gratitude from their manager, they were more productive. Other research shows that when teams believe other teams respect and appreciate them, they are more likely to perform tasks better.