It might seem obvious that employees who work in an environment full of praise for a job well done are going to be happier than employees who work at a job where there’s no employee appreciation at all. But there’s a biological reason that this is true too.
Why employee appreciation works
When people are rewarded and told they are doing a good job, dopamine is released into their system. Dopamine makes us feel happy and rewarded and is associated with the pleasure centers of your brain.
When you praise an employee for a job well done, the employee gets a pleasure gain from the dopamine. Eventually, this gain fades, but they’ve already associated pleasure with being praised. Employees know that, in order to be praised, they need to do a good job, so they work harder to get more dopamine and the cycle continues.
Why employee appreciation matters
Hard-working employees improve your bottom line. Hard-working employees who receive praise and get that hit of dopamine feel better about the work they do, better about where they work, and are less likely to leave your company.
Showing appreciation for an employee and triggering a dopamine release is not a cure all. It won’t make up for terrible management or grossly underpaying employees, but it will go a long way.
How to build a culture of employee appreciation at your company
Thankfully, employee appreciation doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Praising an employee when you see them doing a great job or letting them know when customers or coworkers have noticed their hard work is easy. You can also encourage your manager to do the same.
Here are some ideas that might help you implement a culture of employee appreciation at your company.
- Recognize specific employees at meetings. If you’re doing regular employee meetings, whether online or in person, take the time to point out specific employees for a job well done. Remember to be specific. The more specific the praise, the better employee appreciation works.
- Recognize employees on your company communication platform. Does your company use a tool like Slack, Trello, or Microsoft Teams? These platforms are a great way to recognize employees and have built in tools that make it easy.
- Send employees small gifts to show you appreciate their hard work. An employee’s favorite coffee, a small gift card, or an Amazon package can go a long way. It shows employees that you took the time to know what they like and that you recognize what they did. Everyone likes to be surprised with a gift!
- Write a card or note. A handwritten note makes employee appreciation extra personal. If employees are working remotely, you can mail the note to them in a greeting card or postcard. If they work from the office, you can leave it on their desk.
- Have an employee of the week, month, or year. This can be a great way to build employee recognition into your company, but make sure that it doesn’t become generic.
Remember that building a culture of employee appreciation at your company doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does have to be done thoughtfully, consistently and in a way that lets your employees that you took the time to understand them and recognize them for their specific contributions. This program will pay huge dividends in improved employee performance and longevity.
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About the Guest Author for Suna Solutions
Jon Daniel, Founder at Human Resources Hero
Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn