A culture of appreciation at work

In 2006 I wrote an article about the importance of creating a culture of appreciation in the workplace.

I raise this topic again in 2011 because over the past few months, friends and clients have shared stories about how feeling appreciated and valued at work impacts their job satisfaction:

  • After moving to a new company my friend commented, “This new company really looks after its people – unlike where I previously worked.”
  • A boss missed an opportunity to retain a valuable employee by not properly valuing their staff
  • A number of clients have lost some of their enthusiasm at work because they don’t feel appreciated or supported by their managers

In January this year the Australian Institute of Management (Victoria & Tasmania) released the results of their employee engagement survey. It revealed that 40% of the 3,368 respondents felt unappreciated in their roles at work: “the survey shows that negativity and apathy are present in the ranks of too many Australian organisations.”  In an article in The Australian newspaper, Susan Heron (Chief Executive of AIM (Vic & Tasmania)) emphasised the importance of creating a good workplace culture. She commented, “You’ve got to have employees feeling valued, that they are listened to and understood. You need to make sure that employees know that what they do makes a difference and what they do matters.”

“The #1 reason people leave their jobs: they don’t feel appreciated.” (Tom Rath and Donald Clifton)

What can you do?

It’s more than simply saying “thank you, great job”. It requires a mindset of appreciating what it is that people do well:

  • Notice their strengths, their values, and what’s important to them
  • Pay attention to them, show respect, value their work and their contribution, and build their efficacy, strengths, and their confidence
  • Be curious, open and interested in other people; get to know them and understand them without judgment; know what makes them tick. Listen to them
  • Care about them, notice what makes them unique, find something of interest in each person
  • Treat them fairly
  • Accepting them for who they are – genuinely and without judgment
  • Be authentic in your appreciation for those around you

We all have a role in appreciating the people around us (it’s not just up to the managers and leaders).
What else can you add to the list above? What have you noticed or done that works well?

Stirling, J. (29 January 2011) . Workers in search of the exit.  The Australian.
(With thanks to my friend Bert van Halen for sending me this article)
Linley, P. A., Willars, J. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The Strengths Book: Be Confident, Be Successful, and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown.
Rath, T. (2004). How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, New York: Gallup Press.

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