When employees feel valued in the workplace, this benefits far more than just an individual’s job satisfaction. Studies show that 39% of employees have never felt valued at work – up from 35% five years ago. Sadly, this can have a negative effect not only on workplace performance but also on our emotional wellbeing.
People who feel undervalued admit it can become intolerable. This is the case in the workplace and in many aspects of our family and social life. According to psychologists, if we feel appreciated, this can lead to better mental and physical health and greater levels of job satisfaction, engagement and motivation. This, in turn, leads to a healthy and productive relationship between the employee and employer.
Sadly, if workers feel undervalued, many seek a new job when it becomes too much. The Investors in People Job Exodus Report found that around half of employees feeling disillusioned with their job began looking for a new one within 12 months.
Why feeling valued is important
When managers fail to appreciate their team and don’t notice what a great job they’re doing, employees are 42% less likely to feel engaged in their work. When staff are praised for their efforts, this boosts productivity and strengthens the company culture, which is important to ensure everyone is working towards one common goal.
Praise and recognition are also recognised sources of motivation. Giving employees positive feedback when it is due makes them feel appreciated and this helps them to perform better – so a positive impact on the business! According to recent research by Oxford University, feeling happy at work makes people around 13% more productive.
Coaching and mentoring employees by line managers and team leaders can be a useful tool. Not only does it show the company cares, but it also encourages self-recognition. Not everyone is aware of their own strengths, so helping them discover how their personal qualities contribute to the business’s success is beneficial.
Peer-to-peer recognition is also useful, enabling employees to publicly recognise each other’s contributions, help, skills, talent, or a job well done. Developing a peer recognition scheme can be beneficial in many workplaces.
The workplace study, Leading with Gratitude, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, found that 67% of managers believed they offered an above-average amount of praise to employees, but only 23% of employees agreed. Peer-to-peer recognition can help bridge this gap in beliefs and expectations.
Making the workforce feel valued is an important initiative company-wide and it should have long-term goals. In practical terms, salaries must keep pace with the market to stop employees from going elsewhere.
Reward packages should be continually updated and benchmarked against the market, with strategies put in place to ensure employees who have taken on more responsibility will earn more money and gain the recognition they deserve.
The value of gathering and acting on feedback is immense. People feel appreciated for different reasons, so setting up strong channels of communication, where frank exchanges can take place, will build trust. While employees are expected to act on feedback, so must managers, where possible, if the employee is unhappy about an aspect of their job.
Recognise discretionary efforts individuals or teams have made. Most people put in greater effort voluntarily, including staying late to finish a job, or completing tasks they’re not actually responsible for at some point.
Employees’ personal kindness and work ethic is something that keeps a lot of businesses afloat – yet they are often not personally thanked for going the extra mile. Recognise their endeavours and don’t let them feel taken for granted.
Recognition without favouritism
Employers should be mindful, when showing appreciation, that they are not demonstrating favouritism or discrimination. When one employee continually over-achieves, it can be hard not to recognise what a great job they’re doing. However, over time, it can appear that other colleagues’ efforts aren’t being recognised at all.
If your company has any kind of rewards scheme, where employees win a physical reward such as a meal, a bonus, or a bottle of bubbly, the same person can’t win it every time. There can be various reasons for rewarding someone: a team that has exceeded sales targets; someone who has worked extra hours to get a particular project up and running; a colleague who has come up with a great recycling or money-saving idea, etc. The list is endless.
As a manager, you need to work out a rewards scheme that recognises everyone’s skills and contributions. It should never be aimed purely at those who achieve their sales targets. The rewards can include other team members – for example, when one team member wins an award, it could be a free lunch for all the team.
Verbal feedback and praise in recognition of work well done should be commonplace. Every time an employee makes a great achievement that helps the company, a simple “thank you for your hard work” is courteous and it boosts morale.
Are big companies bad at appreciating employees?
While many major companies have official rewards schemes in place to recognise employee achievements, when there are hundreds of people working there, it’s easy for less confident colleagues to feel they are invisible.
People working for smaller companies, in an environment such as a coworking space, where everyone knows colleagues on a personal level, can feel more appreciated. Employees who are less confident have a greater chance to shine, while there are better channels of communication to managers and team leaders, as they are on hand to speak personally to colleagues in the same office.
It’s worth noting that 68% of customers say they will stop using a brand if employees have a negative attitude. When staff are dissatisfied, this will be reflected in their customer service, so it’s vital that you never let morale slump.
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