On average, people spend more of their time whilst awake at work. With so much of our lives taken up by our jobs, it’s so important to make sure that we’re happy whilst we’re doing it. A happy employee is a mentally healthy employee, who will work harder and be more loyal to the company.

A big part of that happiness is feeling appreciated in their work. If they don’t know that they’re appreciated, they aren’t going to be happy, and you’re going to end up with serious problems further down the line.

What can happen if an employee feels under-appreciated

Firstly, anyone who doesn’t feel like they aren’t valued isn’t going to be working as hard as they can. Regardless of how professional they may be, it’s impossible for someone to work in the best way possible if they feel that way. You’ll have a team that may be doing fine, but will never excel, which will only cause your business to stutter and plateau rather than grow.

Then there’s the issue of the environment. It’s very easy for an “us vs them” attitude to develop in the workplace between management and employees. Employees know that managers get paid more, but they still feel like their hard work is what’s fuelling their salaries. Showing appreciation can stop this divide from becoming a toxic issue.

Finally, there’s the issue of staff retention. The grass may not always be greener, but that won’t ultimately stop an employee from leaving for pastures new if they don’t feel their work is being appreciated by their manager. If you hire good staff, you’ll want to keep them, so making sure they understand how important they are is key to building a strong team in the long term.

Ways to show appreciation to your employees

Showing appreciation to your employees begins with simple pleasantries and manners. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way to showing that you believe your team deserve to be treated with respect. Make sure you go a step further when thanking them though, and be specific in what you’re thanking them for. It makes for a more genuine gesture, and shows that you’re paying attention to the work that they’re doing. Also, set this as a standard you expect from your team – colleagues should be treating each other in the same way.

Be careful not to stray too far into saying thank you for everything they do though. You’ll lose credibility if it sounds like you’re saying it for the sake of being nice. It’ll quickly lose meaning if you’re saying thank you with too much emphasis too often.

Another way to show that you appreciate your employees is to take an interest in them. Again, it’s all about being genuine – ask how their weekend was, and try to remember the most important parts of their lives – family names, hobbies etc. That way when you speak in future and show you’ve cared enough to remember these details, you’ll demonstrate you care about your employee.

Encouraging social interaction amongst your team, and providing for that, will also help to grow that sense of value. This could be something as big as a Christmas party, where you hire a venue and pay for food, drinks and entertainment. It may be something as small and simple as bringing in a selection of treats to say thank you for completing a project. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but if it does break the day-to-day with a reward, then it can make all the difference to your team.

On the subject of finances, offering a monetary incentive to your team is one of the most straight-forward, and effective, ways to show appreciation. This may take the form of an end-of-year bonus, or a regular salary review. It could even just be a gift voucher as a one-off. It depends on what your business can afford to offer, but an employee who’s told they’re getting money because they’ve done good will always feel significantly happier.

You may also wish to consider a regular award, whether these are annual or perhaps an employee of the month. These give you the chance to highlight an employee for special praise, and they encourage employees to push that little more to try and put themselves in the frame for the award – especially if there’s a token reward attached to it. The downside is that, depending on the format of the award, you can leave non-winners feeling less appreciated, so it’s one to play carefully.

Finally, consider how you can offer training opportunities and ultimately a path of career progression within your business. If you show that you can trust your employee with extra responsibilities, through new training courses or from the added pressure of moving up the ladder, then you’re showing that you highly value their contribution. Trust and appreciation go hand-in-hand, and trusting an employee with a more demanding workload – as long as it’s not too demanding – can guarantee that sense of appreciation.

The problems with fragile egos

With most of your employees, the tips in this article will keep them happy throughout their time with you. However you may have one or two employees who will continue to feel under-appreciated, despite your best efforts. This may be down to a number of reasons, from insecurity to simply having ideas above their station.

How you handle with these people will vary, but ultimately remember to keep a balance, so that you don’t treat these employees in a more favourable way than others, and come to terms with the fact that you may ultimately just have an employee that can’t be pleased. Always work with them to try and find a solution, but don’t beat yourself up if you know you’re doing the right thing.

Keeping the appreciation going

By making sure that your employees feel appreciated, you can help to grow a team of responsible workers who are prime for promotion opportunities in future. Simple techniques can mean the world to your team, so long as you keep the professional balance so that appreciation always feels truly earned.