“Most Americans Are Unhappy At Work,” declared a bold, depressing, and unsurprising article title that turned up atop a recent Google search. Why Americans stay with jobs that make them unhappy is another blog post for another day. But what can employers do to help their employees be happy at work? They can make their employees feel appreciated.
It has been said that people leave managers, not companies. With the high cost of turnover, employers should strive to be the kind of managers that workers don’t want to leave. A simple yet vital way of doing this is to show appreciation to your employees.
Showing any appreciation may be better than showing no appreciation, but some methods are ineffective. Here are five effective ways you can show appreciation to your employees and make them glad they came to work with you.
Appreciate Your Employees
Appreciate your employees? Isn’t that what this whole article is about? Yes! But showing appreciation and actually appreciating your employees are two different ideas. And the success of showing appreciation depends on how well you actually appreciate your workers. It is worth finding genuine reasons to appreciate your employees so that your praise is sincere and not manipulative. You don’t want to praise them just to mold them into mini versions of you!
Looking for reasons to appreciate your employees takes time and may be difficult. Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, suggests asking yourself the following questions about your hard-to-appreciate workers: “Given their talents and their limits, what can they do that would be best for the team? Can the overachiever shoulder some additional projects? Might the slow-talker’s snail-paced delivery spur the whole team to reflect more before speaking?” These questions take the focus off of whether you like the employee onto what their strengths are. This shift in focus will help you appreciate what the employee can add to your team, and so when you show appreciation, it will be sincere.
Give Specific Praise
When you are told “good job” after an accomplishment, do you ever feel bolstered? Generic statements like “good job” and “nice work” could come from anyone—even from people who don’t understand your accomplishment. And such statements could be for anyone, including those whose accomplishments range from mediocre to fantastic. Such statements hardly inspire employees to continue their positive work.
Give your employees praise tailored to them and their accomplishments: “Generic praise is nice, but specific praise is wonderful. Don’t just tell an employee she did a good job; tell her how she did a good job. Not only will she appreciate the gesture, but she also knows you pay attention to what she does.” And having you pay attention to what they do may be the greatest compliment your employees can receive.
Allow Employees to Make Decisions
Micromanagement arguably has its benefits. But if your management style doesn’t allow workers to make decisions, they are going to feel unappreciated. Additionally, “your employees’ skills, talents and insights can fall to the wayside, leaving you with a team that only knows how to do what it’s told.” Why hire a team in the first place if they can’t act for themselves?
Allowing workers to make decisions shows them you trust them, and feeling trusted goes a long way toward happiness at work: “When employees feel their supervisors trust them to get key tasks done, they have greater confidence in the workplace and perform at a higher level.” When you trust them enough to let them make decisions, they will feel that you appreciate their intelligence and integrity.
Encourage Employee Feedback—and Act on It
Believe it or not, your employees may understand the inner workings of your company better than you do. If you’re not capitalizing on this intimate knowledge, you’re missing out on some prime ways to improve day-to-day operations and company culture.
Asking your employees for feedback helps them feel appreciated because it shows that you value their perspectives and understand that they have much to offer. Strive to develop “a culture based on open communication and an ownership mentality.” This culture will make it easier for your employees to give feedback and make your company culture one that appreciates individuals.
Make the Work Environment Fun
Nothing shows workers that you appreciate them more than striving to help them enjoy their jobs. This striving includes finding the perfect work-fun balance for your company. You don’t have to go crazy, but things like providing snacks, giving surprise time off, and throwing company parties will help your workers associate their jobs with positive experiences.
“Having fun makes employees more productive, more engaged, less likely to leave their jobs, and just plain happier.” Do those qualities describe the type of workers you’d like to have? Then show them appreciation by creating fun for them.
If you want your employees to be happy—and to stick around—show them you appreciate them. You can show appreciation by finding sincere reasons to appreciate your employees, giving specific praise, allowing them to make decisions, encouraging feedback, and making the workplace fun. A bonus for you: doing these things will make your employees appreciate you!