• Heather Lebischak

The Value of Appreciation - Part 1

As I mentioned in my first blog, “Someone who is made to feel appreciated will always do more than is expected.” I have found this to be especially true in corporate America. The problem is that not everyone has what I like to call the gift of gratitude. Some people naturally make people feel appreciated and valued. Whether it is a well-worded thank you note, a small but significant gift, or just simple words, they have a talent for exuding gratitude. We are not all born with this gift. That does not mean, however, that we are incapable of attaining it. It just means that we have to make more effort than those for whom it comes naturally.

When I speak on the subject of appreciation, I always include the below survey questions with multiple choice answers:

You are being recognized at work as a top performer. How do you prefer to be recognized?

  • Presented with an award and $100 gift card in front of your department

  • Taken to lunch by your direct supervisor and presented with a $100 gift card

  • Send a card with a note and a $100 gift card

  • Given ½ day off

Which of the following benefits is most important to you?

  • Tuition/student loan repayment assistance

  • Health Insurance

  • Retirement Plan

  • PTO

  • Bonus structure

It’s your birthday! Which of the following would you prefer as a gift from your boss?

  • $25 in cash

  • $25 gift card to your favorite restaurant

  • Personal gift valued at $25

  • I prefer not to have my birthday acknowledged

You are out of the office, and your co-worker wants to help out while you are gone? Which would be most helpful to you?

  • Help you catch up on filing

  • Cover your phone

  • Handle your inbox

  • Keep you informed of what is going on

A member of your immediate family is in the hospital. Which of the following would your ideal boss do?

  • Visit you and your family in the hospital

  • Call, email or text to check on the family member

  • Bring dinner to your home

  • I prefer to keep work and personal completely separate

Without exception, the answers I get to each question vary widely among the audience, which tells us that people want different things. And, while you can say, “Well, duh, of course they do – everybody knows that,” our actions often do not reflect that we do, indeed, know this. Some of these differences are the result of personal preferences (we all have different likes and dislikes), some on age/generation, some on sex, some on life circumstances or current situation (a single mom may not want the same things as a young 20-something fresh out of college), and so much more. First, you have to set out with intentionality to reward and show appreciation—often, we say someone is doing their job and offer no thanks at all. Check out these statistics from O. C. Tanner regarding recognition:

• 79% of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a significant reason for leaving

• 65% of Americans claimed they weren’t even recognized one time last year

• 82% of employees feel that their supervisor doesn’t recognize them for what they do

• 60% of employees say they are more motivated by recognition than money

The second is to recognize that the manner in which people want to be recognized or made to feel appreciated varies, and then take action to reward or show appreciation in a way that has value to the recipient. One of the best ways to know what someone wants is to simply listen. According to the Greek Philosopher Epictetus, we have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak. By merely listening (not to respond but to truly understand), we can learn a lot about people. If an employee mentions an upcoming race that they are participating in, you know that they are a runner. Maybe a gift card to Academy Sports or a massage might be a nice gift for them. If a single mom talks about how busy she is and how hard it is to get a minute alone, taking her to lunch may not be a “reward” for her as it takes away some of the little time she has to herself. The working dad who is always desperately trying to make his son’s baseball game may be far more appreciative of time off than of your bonus structure.

We will talk on my next blog about more ways to identify what has value to recipients so that what you are doing is actually considered a reward.

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