People deeply desire recognition and acknowledgement for what they do. Studies have shown that employees are motivated by praise and appreciation before promotion or a bonus.

A word of praise, a personalised email of encouragement or thanks can make all the difference to how people feel about their jobs. These mementos last longer than the pay cheque and show that someone has valued what they have done. There are some managers and even companies that people love to work for because they are known for having a special way of treating people. These managers and companies recognise that people really are their means of doing exceptional business, and treat them accordingly.

Many employers seem to think that employees are paid to work, so why should they be praised as well. But if companies do not have a culture of praise and appreciation, it will be reflected in their retention rates.

Here are 5 ways to incorporate praise and appreciation into your workplace.

• Encourage a culture of appreciation. Give out positive energy and appreciation of others, and you will find it coming back to you. Start appreciating what other people do at work. Focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. Try thanking other people, and they will begin to appreciate you in return. This works at all levels of the organisation. Appreciate your Managers and appreciate your direct reports and co-workers. Everyone’s role is important and if people start to tell each other this, then the effect will be felt throughout the organisation.

• Write a thank you note to someone who has performed well – on paper, with ink. In these days of email, a handwritten note will stand out as something special. Use a good quality card and be sincere in what you write. People will keep these cards and too often they are only given when they are leaving the company. Giving this recognition during employment will improve their job happiness and retention rates.

• Stop the blame and use it as a lesson learnt session instead. If companies have a blame culture, then people feel they cannot take risks or try to improve things for fear of censure. Encourage people to contribute and praise them for trying something new. If it works you will want to use their idea. If it doesn’t, then praise them for trying, and analyse how it can be done better next time. Don’t criticise and blame, but praise and encourage.

• Use the monthly meeting to award people for a job well done in a public forum. Have an original award and give it to people for going above and beyond their job description. This may relate to a demonstration of company values or for excellence. One example is the First Penguin award used at Carnegie Mellon, which is given for being a risk-taker and being ahead of the pack. It refers to the first penguin that dives into the ocean containing predators, someone fearless and ready for anything. What original award could you start at your workplace?

• Be aware of what people are doing in the workplace. If someone does a particularly good job, reward them unexpectedly. For example, tell them to have an expensive meal out with their family and put the cost on their expenses. Have a “Special Day Off” award when someone gets to have a day off for free and still get paid. Or get tickets to a sporting event and take a group of employees instead of clients. Make your employees feel that they are worthy of excellent treatment. After all, they are the ones who make the company work.

Praise needs to be genuine, so all of these should be done with sincerity. These points have nothing to do with the institutionalised “praise” of bonuses and organised rewards/commissions. These examples are for unexpected thanks and appreciation of what people do over and above their job descriptions. Reward people for their service and their loyalty, and you will find that they give even more.

Author's Bio: 

Joanna Penn is the author of “How to Enjoy Your Job”. Packed full of strategies, ideas and tips to help you enjoy your job and your life now!
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