In January, we kicked off our blog series on company culture and what makes a great culture great. We’ll continue this conversation by talking about the importance of employees feeling valued for the work that they do. Most leaders would tell you they value their employees; however, do their employees know it? According to Best Places to Work and Gallup research, an alarming majority of employees don’t feel appreciated or think their work goes unnoticed. Employee engagement, loyalty, and retention suffer as a result. However, there are steps leaders can take to demonstrate care, connect with, and help employees feel they are valued contributors. The following are a few actions that can help in this effort:
Say thank you in a genuine, timely, and specific way.
A simple thank you can sometimes be the most rewarding gesture. A thank you is the most impactful if it is genuine, timely, and specific. If it’s not genuine appreciation, most people will know. Not all tasks or projects are milestones; however, if the work is truly contributing to the business and a larger purpose, share that with the employee.
Next, don’t wait. The sooner someone receives a thank you, the greater the emotional impact and the higher the chance this positive feedback connects with the person and impacts future behavior.
Finally, be as specific as possible. Saying thank you in a way that is specific to the value a team member provides shows that you are paying attention and that you appreciate their contribution to the work being done, regardless of the scale of the task.
Peer-to-peer recognition — encourage others to share success stories.
Not all recognition has to come from a manager. When coworkers, other department leaders, or external clients share feedback, be sure to pass that along to your employees. Knowing that their work made a positive impact on a customer or coworker reminds employees that what they do is important and reinforces the value they bring to the organization. This is especially important for those employees that aren’t customer-facing.
Know your people — carve out time for deliberate relationship building.
Small actions, such as taking employees out to lunch or for coffee, and using that time to find out who they are as people, can instill trust, motivate, and show employees that you care about more than just the work they complete. These check-ins are critical in building trust — the foundation of all strong relationships. On a professional level, carving out time for employees to share their professional goals or ideas goes a long way toward fostering connections as well. The reality is that all of us are human, and from time to time our personal and professional lives overlap. Taking the time to understand what’s going on in an employee’s personal life that may be impacting their work, or celebrating positive milestone events, are two simple ways to create a connection.
Encourage and provide opportunities for growth.
Regular check-ins with employees will help you measure their current engagement and determine how to best help them grow. Ask team members how they see themselves contributing to the organization in the future. Understanding employees’ level of satisfaction and goals for the future is a key to retention. If you provide learning opportunities and encourage your employees to develop a learning mindset, they will gain the confidence to help your organization compete. Your investment in their development will also demonstrate your appreciation for what they do and strengthen their loyalty.
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Content authored by former employee Tonya Dittman.