Part II - Employer Feedback and Appreciation

Among a few other critical factors, positive feedback to employees should be  personalized ,  deserved , and  specific .

Among a few other critical factors, positive feedback to employees should be personalized, deserved, and specific.

Over the last few weeks, addie, LLC has been delving into some fascinating research about the difficulties that managers face giving feedback to employees and the impact this has on employee morale and engagement.

We have learned that employees have a strong desire and need to feel appreciated and trusted by their employers; however, this need is often not met as a large portion of employers fail to give helpful feedback to employees. What’s worse is that this deficiency in feedback includes the positive accolades that are necessary to keep the workforce motivated. As we cited in Part I of this blog last week, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), a shocking 37% of employers do not provide any positive feedback to employees.

Addie, LLC understands that management is extremely busy, but we firmly believe that if management would take the time to understand how to engage employees at a deeper level, the benefits to both the employer and employee would be tenfold. To encourage employer feedback and demonstration of appreciation to employees, we’ve put together some initial resources to help you get started.

To begin, keep in mind a few simple tips when showing appreciation or giving feedback to employees: 1). It should be personalized; 2). It should be deserved; and 3). It should be specific. Here is an article from Gallup that provides these simple insights on how employees want to receive appreciation. This resource also includes a short list of simple questions that an employer can quickly and easily present to employees to gain further insight into their preferences for recognition and appreciation.

If you have ever heard of the book, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, then you might be familiar with the next resource we discovered and researched. Based on the concepts of his initial work, Chapman’s theory is that everyone has a preferred language for communication, whether it be through words, time, service, gifts or touch, and that people who wish to have successful relationships must communicate through the preferred ‘language’ of their interlocutor. Most recently, he has translated these ‘languages’ over to the workplace in his The 5 Language of Appreciation in the Workplace. Along with his book, there is also a corresponding Motivating by Appreciation survey that can be taken by individuals or disseminated throughout organizations to all employees.

Results across 100,000 participants in the survey were quite telling. The leading preference for workplace appreciation was determined to be Words of Affirmation. This means that employees mostly prefer to receive accolades in verbal form, whether it be in-person or in an email, or in a private one-on-one setting or in a more public forum. It’s very important to keep in mind that any praise given with words be thoughtful, specific, and delivered in the way that the employee most prefers.

Quality Time and Acts of Service prevailed as the second and third most preferred languages of appreciation in the workplace, respectively. Quality Time is when an employee is given focused and undivided attention, whether it be through a one-on-one conversation, group talk, or working alongside a colleague. Preferences for quality time can vary depending on whether it is quality time between supervisor and employee or between two (or more) employees. On the other hand, Acts of Service in the workplace is when there is an offer to pitch-in or help an employee. From personal experience, I can say that when an employer jumps in and is willing to take part in the ‘dirty work,’ it can be a very motivating factor for a team or individual employee. It is important to note that before an employer jumps in to help on a project, s/he should consult with the employee or team beforehand to be sure that the help is desired. According to Chapman, failing to offer help before stepping in may lead to frustration, misunderstanding and possibly further disengagement of employees.

We recommend taking some time to read Chapman’s book on showing appreciation in the workplace or have employees take the Motivating by Appreciation survey to have a deeper understanding of the nuances in these languages of appreciation. WIth some dedicated and consistent effort, employers and organizations can reap the benefits of an appreciated workforce - and that will make all the difference.