I have to admit, I feel a little conflicted about Employee Appreciation Day. I mean, are we to restrict our appreciation for our colleagues to one day? Relegating appreciation to an annual event makes it seem trivial, as if feeling appreciated is insignificant. Or perhaps it’s in the calendar as a reminder, a little dig in the ribs, to remind us that we should show our appreciation more often...
In fact, it should be a core part of every day. Whether it’s for the boost to employee engagement and productivity, or just the emotional reward of creating a culture of recognition and appreciations; letting our colleagues know we appreciate them is worth doing, because of its significant returns.
But I’ve found that, for many leaders, appreciation is an assumption they make. They assume that because they pay people a decent salary and give them good benefits, then they will feel appreciated – but that’s in no way enough. In fact, it’s only the beginning of the conversation.
At Insights, we often talk about valuing the uniqueness of every individual, and individuality is a key part of understanding how to appreciate our employees. For some, yes, it’s about the salary or the ‘job well done.’ But for others, it might be about the supportive feedback or public recognition in front of their peers. Appreciation is in the eye of the beholder, and a one size fits all approach just isn’t going to cut it here. You can’t just order pizza and cookies for lunch every so often and expect it to tick everyone’s appreciation box.
In the Insights Discovery Personal Profile, there are a couple of pages (Managing Me and Motivating Me) that will help leaders understand how each member of their team likes to be appreciated. According to my Personal Profile, I am motivated by “Regular holidays and time off to pursue other interests.” So I feel appreciated if you give me time to explore my personal passions. Another statement says “Investment in equipment for his exclusive use encourages his sense of worth.” So rather than buy me cookie in the shape of a love heart, a new tool that helps me be more effective in my job would give a better emotional return on the investment.
There’s also a page in the Insights Deeper Discovery Profile - What I Appreciate About Myself - that will share what we like to be appreciated for. Mine says, “I often find myself contemplating links and connections between people and events and wonder what the implications may be for the future.” This reflects my passion for systems thinking and looking at the future of those systems, and I really appreciate when my colleagues notice me using this skill.
The point is that the appreciation of your employees and colleagues is subjective. It’s about understanding not only what they want to be appreciated for, but how they want to have that appreciation shown. Appreciation is a completely personal affair.
Rather than use this Employee Appreciation Day as a once a year chance to honor your colleagues, why not have a conversation with them about how they would like to be appreciated over the next year, and what they like to be appreciated for? After all, if you don’t take the time to find out what appreciation means for each individual, you’re not truly appreciating them at all.