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Surveys & Engagement

The importance of showing appreciation at work

Leapsome Team
The importance of showing appreciation at work
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Employees are the heart of every organization. Showing them that you appreciate their hard work and dedication to your company is fundamental for a thriving workplace. A large part of any successful leader’s role is nurturing employee growth and ensuring they feel appreciated. 

However, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Team leads may assume that their reports feel appreciated just because of the time they dedicate to managing them. This often isn’t the case. According to Gallup, only 1 in 3 professionals strongly agree that their workplace values them and consistently demonstrates their appreciation.*

Showing genuine appreciation at work goes beyond constructive criticism and praise. It should be a consistent and personal process that aligns with company values.

*Gallup, 2024

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What is workplace appreciation?

Workplace appreciation is the practice of acknowledging and celebrating employee accomplishments and contributions both publicly and one-on-one. Staff appreciation can sometimes, but not always, come with tangible rewards.

Organizations can show team members gratitude with monetary awards like raises, promotions, and bonuses, but they can also demonstrate appreciation with non-monetary benefits like extra time off, special professional development opportunities, or company-wide events.

A photo of employees at a workplace event.

Why is showing appreciation at work important?

Appreciating team members makes the workplace feel more fulfilling and positive. With 95% of employees saying they want new jobs, now’s an important time to recognize this.

However, the way organizations show gratitude matters even more. Meaningful employee appreciation can take many forms, notably:

  • Transparent performance review processes that are consistent, psychologically safe, and incorporate meaningful, actionable feedback.
  • Fair compensation and benefits packages that reward employees for their experience, effort, and contributions.
  • Authentic training opportunities and development methods that help individuals advance their careers and achieve their goals.
  • A positive work environment and professional community that encourages team members to live a fulfilling, balanced life.

It’s hard to overlook the benefits that appreciation can bring to your organization, such as:

  • Boosting workplace satisfaction Prioritizing staff appreciation can lead to a 47% increase in morale.
  • Higher retention rates — Devoting more time and resources to staff rewards and recognition is key to holding onto your top performers. According to Gallup, it can increase the likelihood of retaining employees by 56%.
  • Increased productivity As morale and engagement increase due to your focus on appreciation, so will your output. According to Gallup, companies that prioritize engagement and appreciation see a 23% increase in productivity
“Effective employee appreciation is about more than just office snacks and free swag. It’s about creating a culture of respect, openness, and growth where employees feel valued and supported. By taking the time to understand each employee’s unique needs and preferences and providing opportunities for growth and development, you can create a workplace that fosters productivity, engagement, and success.”

— Tara Furiani, CEO, Keynote Speaker, Author, and Host at
Not the HR Lady

5 best practices for appreciation in the workplace

An infographic displaying five best practices for showing appreciation in the workplace.

Though simple in concept, making team members feel valued isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Here are five best practices to keep in mind when showing employees how much you value them.

1. Connect appreciation with company values

Appreciation needs to be specific to make a positive impact. Team members want to understand how their accomplishments and efforts support the company mission, so it’s a good idea to show them how their contributions embody your organization’s values. 

Structuring praise around company values also leads to appreciation that’s based on results and metrics rather than an affinity for certain individuals. 

Paul Bennun from DAZN Group highlights the importance of leadership in establishing company values. “How active are leaders in recognising performance — are they a panel which selects from nominations, do they routinely recognise people as part of their weekly habits, do they encourage a culture of recognition? What is their role and does that role (and their execution of it) align with our values?”

Once leadership has established strong company values, they can then use them to show employees how their work ties in with what the company stands for and, therefore, how they are contributing to the overall success of the organization. 

A screenshot of Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module.
Managers should ensure any praise they give is specific and connected with company values

2. Build appreciation into the review process

In our 2023 State of People Enablement Report, 77% of employees cited a poor performance review process as one reason they wanted to leave their current organization. 

Team members may feel that their company’s reviews are plagued by unconscious bias, leading to a lack of transparency and recognition. And even if managers express appreciation in performance reviews, it might rarely lead to tangible rewards like bonuses, raises, promotions, or special training opportunities. 

To keep employees engaged and motivated, your organization needs: 

  • Structured performance reviews that discuss strengths and opportunities for growth — Make sure team leads follow the same agenda and pre-established framework, so all assessments are consistent.

  • Monetary or non-monetary incentives for a job well done Equip leadership with the tools they need to offer tangible rewards. For example, use Leapsome’s Compensation module, which allows team leads to recommend employees for a raise or bonus during their next salary review after a great appraisal.
A screenshot of Leapsome’s Compensation module.
Leapsome Compensation empowers managers to run regular, effective salary reviews
 “Employee appreciation in the workplace needs to run deeper than thank yous, non-monetary gifts, or ’public emails.’ So much of the work employees complete goes unrecognized and unrewarded financially. A better system would be to build a clear process where ’above and beyond efforts’ get genuinely factored into promotion and merit raise decisions and are valued for the impact they have on the workplace.”

Dannie Lynn Fountain, Disability Accommodations Program Manager at Google

3. Set up a rewards & recognition program

Employees who feel that their organization recognizes their hard work are “more likely to be satisfied and fulfilled in their jobs, contribute more, and stay long-term at the company,” as reported by Forbes. Rewards typically include monetary and non-monetary incentives like merit increases, promotions, or development opportunities. In addition, recognition often takes the form of verbal or written praise in response to a specific accomplishment.

A rewards and recognition program provides guidelines to follow when you want to show appreciation to your people. You can create one by:

  1. Determining what employees need to do to earn specific rewards. These could include meeting certain objectives or targets.
  2. Deciding how you’ll offer recognition. With Leapsome Instant Feedback, you can set up a company Praise Wall where colleagues can leave and read positive comments about each other. When using Slack or Microsoft Teams, our integrations even allow you to set up dedicated channels to share that praise.
  3. Specifying the rewards you’ll provide. What mixture of monetary and non-monetary rewards will you offer? Will you include incentives like bonuses or profit sharing? How about learning and development stipends or extra days off?
  4. Telling employees about the program. Make sure everyone understands how your system works and the criteria they need to meet to earn certain incentives.

An employee recognition program should be a fundamental part of a company’s setup. Forbes also pointed out that these programs work best when “there’s an ongoing and consistent plan that incorporates multiple ways of displaying recognition.”

“It’s important to ensure that the reward or recognition scheme is seen as fair and equitable by all team members. This means avoiding favoritism or bias towards certain individuals or teams and ensuring the criteria for earning rewards or recognition are based on objectives and metrics, such as sales targets or customer satisfaction ratings.”

— Natasha Maddock, Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director of
Events Made Simple
A screenshot of Leapsome’s Praise Wall.
Leapsome Instant Feedback makes it easy for colleagues to leave positive comments for their teammates

4. Develop praise skills in leaders

Leadership may have a solid grasp of giving praise and appreciation. Yet, there might be a disconnect within your organization. We found that 95% of human resources leaders thought employees were somewhat engaged, while 63% of employees reported feelings of disengagement. 

It could be that your team leads don’t show appreciation consistently. Many leaders don’t feel comfortable offering words of praise. They may not understand the best occasions to give feedback, and if they do, they might not make it personal enough.

Jennifer Landis-Santos of Georgetown University recommends that leaders reflect on their relationship with praise to understand where the fear of giving positive feedback comes from. “How might they be closing possibilities for themselves as a leader by avoiding giving praise to individuals? They could be passing up an opportunity to grow and have a greater impact.”

You can help team leads improve the way they give praise by:

  • Training them to spot opportunities to share positive feedback — on its own or alongside constructive criticism
  • Setting up role-playing scenarios where they can get input on making their displays of appreciation more effective
  • Including positive communication and feedback among the competencies evaluated in their performance reviews
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Leapsome Instant Feedback enables managers to provide meaningful praise and structured suggestions for improvement.

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5. Measure employee experience

As the perception gap we discovered has shown, team member feedback may surprise you. That’s why organizations need to ask employees how well they feel the organization is currently recognizing great work, and how they’d prefer to receive that appreciation and recognition directly. SHRM found that “when employee experience and employee engagement are measured together, organizations can explain 54% of employees’ job satisfaction levels and 42% of their desire to quit.”

Run regular engagement surveys and:

  • Ask employees to rate how appreciated they feel and how much appreciation affects their job satisfaction on a Likert scale (from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”).
  • Include open-ended questions. For example:
    — How do you prefer to be recognized?
    — Can you give a specific example of a time you felt appreciated at work?
    — What role do you think managers should play in showing appreciation to their reports?
  • Share the results with everyone. Explain the data and discuss specific ways you’ll take action on their feedback.
🔎 To improve staff happiness, you need to prioritize engagement. To help you make a meaningful impact, we’ve compiled a list of 33 creative engagement ideas.

Mistakes to avoid

A photo of two employees in a one-on-one meeting.

Some leaders may assume that as long as they find some way to show employees appreciation, they’re doing a decent job. But praise can miss the mark and fall flat in several ways:

  • Neglecting to make it personal — This is not to say you should avoid general rewards like company-wide holiday bonuses or events. However, managers should also let direct reports know the difference their contributions make in team success. Otherwise, you risk employees viewing your appreciation efforts as generic or disingenuous.

  • Waiting too long If you don’t share praise promptly, you might miss out on the chance to encourage positive habits and performance in the moment and leave people feeling disappointed.
  • Inconsistency You may give new hires plenty of praise during the onboarding process because you know starting a new job is overwhelming and realize they may need extra reassurance. However, if you stop demonstrating as much appreciation once someone has been with the company for a few months, they may assume it’s because their performance has declined.
  • Misalignment with company culture While it’s important to celebrate team members’ hard work, praising them for putting in long hours may, for instance, conflict with your value of work-life balance. Similarly, poorly thought-out rewards and perks can send the wrong message. For example, giving employees gift cards to a business many of them boycott for ethical reasons could backfire, leading to resentment rather than gratitude.
“If possible, partner with your inclusion advisor on any reward or appreciation program to ensure it doesn’t conflict with the overall corporate goal of an inclusive workplace culture.”

— Ashley T. Brundage, President and CEO of
Empowering Differences

Boost morale and engagement by showing your people that you care

Workplace appreciation can improve your organizational culture and boost employee engagement. The right recognition structure facilitates consistent, thoughtful appreciation, and with the cooperation of leadership and management, it helps build and maintain an authentic culture of gratitude. 

Everyone from C-level to junior team members can benefit from feedback on projects and initiatives. Managers can show appreciation and recognition for their teams through rewards programs, performance reviews, and by developing their praise skills. 

Leapsome Instant Feedback makes combining all these tactics more intuitive. Because it’s designed to work with our Goals module and Competency Framework feature, you can be sure your input will guide employees toward their professional aspirations.

🪴 Nurture employee confidence and help them thrive

Managers can use Leapsome Instant Feedback to reinforce the goals and skills their direct reports are working toward.  

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Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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