How to Foster a Culture of Employee Appreciation

November 8, 2023
10 mins to read
How to Foster a Culture of Employee Appreciation

A culture of appreciation is key to a motivated workforce. With these 7 practices, you’ll learn how to integrate employee appreciation into your company ethos.

When was the last time you felt appreciated at work? For some, it's a regular occurrence, but for many, it doesn't happen often enough. A survey by Robert Half revealed how employees truly felt ahead of Employee Appreciation Day. 48% of responders felt “undervalued” and 25% felt they were not appreciated enough. In the long run, building a culture of appreciation can have compounding benefits and can keep talent feeling inspired and motivated to do their best work.

Why Does Building a Culture of Appreciation Matter?

Expressing appreciation to your employees isn't something that should be happening once every so often. A valued workforce is a motivated workforce, so the more often employees feel that way, the better success you will face as a team and as an organization. 

7 unique ideas to help you build a culture of appreciation in the workplace

1. Understand languages of appreciation

Whether it’s closing a big deal from a high-profile client, surpassing KPIs on a project, or learning a new skill for future projects, each win deserves its praise. The value of a simple ‘great job’ or ‘thank you’ cannot be overstated. But sometimes, understanding other languages of appreciation can help you give back to your employees in the way that they like, not how you deem so. 

The 4 main languages of appreciation include:

  • Quality Time
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Tangible Gifts

Choosing the right method of appreciation can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction for your employees. If you’re in doubt, consider asking these questions: 

  • What are their hobbies and interests? 
  • Are there any notable moments they cherish at work? 
  • Are there any challenges they are currently facing that need assistance? 

Not only will these questions help you narrow down their preferred language of appreciation, but they also showcase an effort from your end to understand your employees both in and out of the office. Small wins or big wins, these tokens of gratitude become thoughtful, genuine, and spontaneous acts that contribute to a culture of appreciation.

2. Allow a once-a-month flexible workday

Promoting a work-life balance is important for keeping a happy and motivated workforce. Having a day for flexible work arrangements can provide a sense of autonomy to employees. They can choose to work from home, in the office, or any place they find suitable for their productivity. If you work in a hybrid team, you probably already enjoy this flexibility. But for organizations solely operating in-person, this can be a great way to demonstrate trust and appreciation by empowering employees to manage their responsibilities and schedules effectively. 

Make sure this flexible workday is clearly distinguished from time off. When conveying this initiative, make it clear what the intention is: to give employees a break from the constant office routine to keep motivation levels high for better productivity and overall well-being. 

3. Create appreciation time capsules

Appreciation time capsules offer a unique way to express gratitude within your workplace. Encourage employees to write appreciation letters or notes and place them in a designated jar until a special occasion. Ideally, this would be around the end of the year or on Employee Appreciation Day. 

The expression of gratitude from colleagues serves not only as a reminder of their personal value but also fosters a deep sense of camaraderie and genuine friendship. 

4. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

Unlike top-down recognition, a culture of appreciation knows no hierarchy. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition creates a supportive and collaborative atmosphere within the workplace. In fact, a survey from Quantum Workplace found that 41% of employees seek more recognition from their immediate co-workers. This shows that it’s important to also actively involve employees in the acknowledgment of their peers. 

To make this possible, investing in a robust system with peer-to-peer recognition functionality is essential. Bonusly is a great tool for this. It allows employees to recognize each other's contributions by giving ‘bonuses’ that can be redeemed for gift cards, charitable donations, and other custom rewards. By fostering a culture where appreciation flows freely between colleagues, you create a positive environment where employees support and value each other seamlessly.

5. Give company-wide shoutouts

Public acknowledgments are a great way of reinforcing a culture of appreciation. When celebrating an employee’s achievement, such as the successful completion of a project, exceeding performance targets, or displaying exceptional leadership, share their accomplishments with the rest of your team to highlight their hard work. Regular shoutouts during team meetings or via company-wide communication channels like email or Slack can instill confidence in your employees’ ability to make an impact. 

An effective appreciation culture emphasizes continuous gratitude. So it’s important to regularly amplify the hard work of your employees to prevent motivation and morale levels from declining.

6. Celebrate milestones

Employee appreciation can also be expressed around special occasions. A few common milestones include:

  • Work anniversaries
  • Birthdays
  • End-of-year celebrations
  • Employee appreciation day
  • Performance milestones

Of course, each milestone has its own significance, but it's the gesture that can make all the difference. Some great ways to celebrate would be to organize a special lunch, take the team out for drinks, or arrange a personalized gift. Each gesture will surely keep your employees feeling happy, appreciated, and like they belong.

7. Go the extra mile

Sometimes, it's the unexpected gestures that leave a lasting impression. Going the extra mile involves surprising employees with thoughtful tokens of gratitude, personalized gestures, or additional support when they least expect it. For example, if you’re a manager, you could leave a handwritten note or letter on their desk expressing your appreciation. You could also organize a surprise treat, like treating them with a gift card or meal voucher. The effort-to-reward ratio is often very high, so going above and beyond in your appreciation efforts showcases your kindness and thoughtfulness to those in your workforce. 

Closing Thoughts

Building a culture of appreciation isn’t difficult if you’re serious about it. Don’t wait for special days to express gratitude. Instead, start by building regular habits using the examples provided in this blog. Unlike recognition, which typically depends on performance, appreciation can be expressed anytime. Organizations that embrace this mindset can reach new heights of success and fulfillment. The key to this is a workforce that’s well-appreciated, highly engaged, and motivated.

Ziyad Bakkali
Ziyad Bakkali

Ziyad is a Marketing and Content Intern at Litespace. With a background in leveraging digital growth strategies for client success and a passion for digital marketing trends, he is eager to contribute his expertise to support Litespace’s marketing efforts and help the brand thrive in the HRTech space.

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