Make your employees feel valued with these 5 tactics

Make your employees feel valued with these 5 tactics

Corporate leaders often talk about how progressive and positive their organization’s culture is. In fact, you’ve probably heard some higher up say something along the lines of, “We focus on creating an outstanding culture in which our employees can thrive.” But is anyone checking to see if this is actually happening? While understanding the importance of employee engagement and positive company cultures is on the rise, there’s often still a disconnect between what companies say they’re doing, or want to do, and what they actually execute. And if that disconnect gets bad enough that it starts impacting employee morale, then you’re in trouble. Morale and culture are closely tied together and when one falters, everyone feels the impact. So how can you safeguard that incredible culture you’ve worked so hard to build? One easy way is to think about staff appreciation. What are you doing to make your employees feel valued? And what risk do you run by skipping this step?

Why employee satisfaction is simply good business

There are many reasons why employee satisfaction should matter to companies. Number one, it’s good for the bottom line. Period. High levels of employee engagement, which stems from feeling valued by peers and management, can outperform competing firms by as much as 147% in earnings per share, according to a recent Gallup poll. And that logically makes sense. When people are happy and motivated, they try harder and work better. Think of the different output you receive from an employee who’s loving your company and one who loathes walking through the door in the mornings. Wouldn’t you rather have an army of the first type of employee? Making people feel valued and appreciated is how you get there. 

While the bottom line is important, there are other benefits to embracing the need for consistent employee satisfaction and engagement. Employees who are actively engaged in their jobs tend to remain more loyal and stay in a position longer, helping decrease your turnover rates and increase retention. And happy employees are also more likely to refer their colleagues for jobs as they open up in the company. This alone is important to organizations that are increasingly struggling to find talent in a job market with historically low unemployment rates and skill gaps. 

Read more: Trying to build an inclusive corporate culture? Start here.

When employees feel undervalued

In contrast, when employees are unhappy about where they are working, they begin to disconnect and their productivity goes down dramatically. Much of this comes from not feeling valued by management, being passed over for promotions, and not getting access to career growth resources that they need. And in younger generations in particular, this feeling of unrest usually signals the start of their next job hob which can lead to a revolving door costing you your best talent. 

Undervalued employees report rarely hearing “thanks” from a supervisor. Other common trends include not feeling like part of a team, distrust of management, and a lack of open communication, among other problems. This creates the perfect storm for poor retention rates and low productivity. A study from Staples revealed that 68% of employees would consider leaving their job because they don’t feel supported by more senior employees. It’s a costly lesson to learn when good people leave the company over something as simple as forgetting to make them feel valued. Poor employee morale, high turnover, and low productivity are all symptoms of a bigger problem — failure to help employees feel like they are appreciated for the hard work they do daily. 

Example: Employee undervaluation

Check out this one example a client recently shared of how the mishandling of one employee can spiral. She worked with an employee who had demonstrated loyalty to the company and to his manager on numerous occasions. He was always coming up with great ideas, which he freely shared with his supervisor and peers. One day, an announcement was made that an idea that he came up with was going to be implemented. At first the employee was excited until he found out that his supervisor had taken 100% credit and that his team members had known it was coming. The employee’s behavior immediately changed and he stopped sharing ideas, being so cooperative, and contributing at his former level. His relationships with other employees became negative, which impacted the departmental processes. The betrayed employee quickly found a job with a competing firm but he didn’t stop there. He also shared his experiences on a major company review website for the world to see. Meanwhile, the former employee went on to share his ideas with his new employer and it resulted in his former employer losing a large client. For the price of one short term project gain, the company not only lost a talented employee, they disrupted their own workforce, strengthened their competition, damaged their employer brand, and might potentially lose out on future qualified candidates. Think it was worth it?

In an example like this it’s clear to see the impact of just one employee who felt undervalued and taken advantage of — and the ripple effect it caused. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to happen at your company. You can take steps to demonstrate to all your employees how important they are as individuals to the success of your organization. 

Pro-tip: To have a strong culture, you need strong leaders. Here’s how you get them.

Employee appreciation ideas to help your staff feel valued

The good news is, you don’t have to share the same fate when it comes to your employees. There are some easy ways to make sure your employees understand how much they mean to the organization, to management, and to peers. So next time you want to boost morale or culture, start by trying out one of these tactics:

1) Say Thanks  – Seems simple, right? You wouldn’t believe the number of managers who fail in this very basic first step. Every employee (and every human for that matter) likes to be acknowledged for his or her efforts. Whether this is a handwritten note, a small incentive like a gift card, time off, a significant bonus, or even just a casual thanks in passing — taking the time to say thank you to employees can have a major impact. Extra points if you present the employee with something they really like, such as a pair of tickets to a baseball game to see their favorite team. That shows that not only do you value their contributions, but you also value them as a person and have taken care to select an appropriate gift they would like. 

2) Give Credit – When an employee takes it upon himself or herself to research and share ideas, let them know that they are heard and that their ideas will be considered. If it’s an idea for an improvement that makes sense to move on, then have the employees be part of the team of minds that will make it happen. If that’s not possible from a hierarchy stand point, then keep the employee updated privately on what’s happened with their idea. Even if they don’t have hands on access, they can still feel like their contribution was valued and important. In cases when a big win or great idea leads to a bonus or promotion, make sure the employee knows exactly what they did to achieve that reward. Ie, an annual bonus is great but it sends a much stronger message if you can point to specific examples of excellent work. This helps make the employee feel seen and shows that as a manager, you understand and are paying attention to what your team does. 

3) Provide Entertainment – It’s always nice to reward employees and breaking up the monotony of the daily grind with some fun activities around the workplace is a great way to do that. Not only is this a good way to relieve stress, but it can help people get to know each other. This can include a basketball hoop, a gaming system for multiple players, a company wide mini-golf game, desk yoga breaks, and so much more. There are endless ideas of fun events you can bring into the office space. Dial it up a notch further and you can even host an employee appreciation day for your staff and their families. On the flip side, rewards don’t have to be huge. Take your team out for ice cream on a hot summer Friday. Your recognition program doesn’t have to break the bank to be effective, it just has to convey that in some way, big or small, you see and value your team.

4) Invest in Knowledge – One of the main reasons many employees take a job is to expand their horizons and grow in knowledge. Why not show employees you value them by supporting this career goal? Connect employees to an online university for free so they can learn new skills they can bring to the job and explore new opportunities with certificate programs. Or bring in-house lunch and learns to the company to help offer the development opportunities your team needs to be more effective. Showing you care about their career aspirations and want to help them learn the skills they’ll need later, whether with you or with another company, conveys the message that people matter. Think of how different your viewpoint is when you stop thinking of employees as just a cog in a machine and start thinking of them as an intricate network of smart, dedicated people who choose to work together for a common goal.

5) Create a Better Environment – To show employees that they are valued, make their work environment a more positive place to be. Open up work spaces to encourage collaboration with peers. Bring in plants and more natural lighting. Create some soft seating areas so employees can get up and change their workspace a little when needed. Focus on increasing positive interactions with peers and eliminating toxic behaviors. Dedicate space or break rooms for brainstorming and collaboration. Align your physical workspace to your cultural ideals and see how your employees grow and achieve. 

When it comes to employee recognition and appreciation, the bottom line is to listen to employees and try to make changes based on their suggestions. Look for ways to improve morale and performance by encouraging employees with coaching and development activities. It might seem like a waste of time up front when you have a dozen plates in the air at once but laying the groundwork for a respectful and appreciative culture benefits everyone. Putting in the work now might just save you from having to rehire later.       


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