81% of employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work
That’s a whopping four out of five people. And appreciation trumps other motivators, too. The same survey showed that:
38% of employees feel motivated to work harder when their boss is demanding
37% feel motivated when they fear losing their job
Clearly, appreciation outweighs other factors that affect job performance. But showing employees you appreciate them doesn’t just mean offering raises or free lunches all the time. Consider some ways to do so without spending a dime.
Emphasize recognition: Excellent work deserves acknowledgement. Seek out one-on-one employee recognition, but also praise employees by giving them shout-outs in front of peers. And don’t wait to do it. As soon as you notice something great happening, set aside time at a meeting to call it out, or draft a quick email that all their team members can see. Acknowledgement works wonders in making your employees feel that their skills and work are valued.
Create a flexible work space: Most of us spend one-third of our day at work, so a positive perception of our work space is crucial. Reorganize space in ways that suit your employees’ needs. Some employees work better in groups, while some work better on their own. Create a group work area where they can relocate if they need a change of scenery, or offer a more removed desk to someone who prefers working solo.
Set high expectations: We all want to feel capable in our jobs, so encourage your employees to succeed by showing that you believe in their abilities. Low expectations aren’t inspiring, but when you establish high expectations, it shows that you have faith they’ll succeed. The corollary of this, of course, is that the expectations need to be clear and reasonable. No one can meet unspecified or unrealistic job parameters.
Get to know employees: Sure, too much socializing keeps work from getting done, but there are lots of small ways to show that you care about employees as real people with lives. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of birthdays, or send out fun get-to-know-you questions from time to time. Little things like this communicate that you value who they are, not just what they do.
Invest in employee health: When it comes to general wellness in the workplace, physical health can’t be ignored, and there are definitely ways to promote it that won’t cost you. Encourage employees to take walks that get them away from their desks, or, to facilitate staying active outside of work time, start something like a company softball team.
Adjust tasks to skills: According to a survey conducted by computer software company Domo, 25% of employees would feel more engaged at work if they were given the opportunity to do what they do best. When you recognize a particular employee’s strengths, brainstorm ways to tailor their job to reflect those. If they’re detail oriented, delegate the tasks that require more fine-tuning to them. Or, if they’re a natural leader, provide ways for them to guide and oversee their peers.
Make time for fun: We’ve all been victims of stress at work, and everyone needs opportunities to blow off steam. By making fun a priority, you show employees that you care about their well-being, not just their production. Get creative. Organize potlucks where everyone contributes, or initiate an impromptu ping-pong tournament. The possibilities are really endless.
With so many ways to show appreciation that won’t cost your company, making employees feel valued becomes particularly advantageous. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. If you were in their place, what would make you feel appreciated? Put these ideas in action, and you'll make strides toward long-term employee engagement and satisfaction.