A simple “thank you” or “good job team” is a powerful leadership tool. Yet, recognition and appreciation for employees and teams can quickly be forgotten or abandoned when things at work get stressful or chaotic. This is unfortunate given that this is when your employees need it from you the very most.
If you’re in a position where you manage people day-to-day, then the following article is for you. You’ll learn what kind of recognition and appreciation your employees and team wants, when they want it, and the importance of doing so consistently and authentically. We’ve also provided a number of examples of words of appreciation that will surely get you thinking of creative ways to tell your team, “Job well done.”
What Kind of Recognition Do Employees and Teams Want?
Recognition and appreciation for a job well done is key to keeping employees engaged, motivated, productive, loyal, and happy. But what exactly do employees want from their leaders?
According to Harvard Business Review, monetary incentives were historically thought to be the key to boosting morale and performance, but “recent research suggests that symbolic awards, such as congratulatory cards, public recognition, and certificates, can significantly increase intrinsic motivation, performance, and retention rates.” This is consistent with the findings of one Deloitte survey where 54% of respondents said they wanted verbal recognition, 31% wanted written recognition, 7% wanted a celebration, and 7% wanted a gift.
However, what each employee and team values is different. The type of recognition one leader gives their employee may be entirely different from what your employees want from you. So, if you wish the praise and appreciation you deliver to have the desired impact, you must get to know your employees and ask them about their preferences.
When Do Employees and Teams Want to Receive Recognition?
Did you know that 25% of employees want recognition for the effort they put in, not just the big wins? If you’re leading people, this means you shouldn’t be just saying “thank you” or “job well done” to those who accomplished something significant. Instead, you should be actively thinking of ways to provide the recognition and appreciation an employee or team needs to stay motivated and committed to the set goals at hand.
How Should You Deliver Team Recognition and Appreciation?
It’s important to consider how you deliver recognition and appreciation, as not all employees and teams will be motivated and engaged by the same delivery. According to Deloitte, 49% of people want recognition shared with a few people, 34% want recognition shared with only them, and 18% want recognition shared publicly and broadly with many people.
Why Is Recognizing and Appreciating Employees Important?
Think about the last time a leader, whether your direct boss or someone higher in the organization, recognized you and told you they appreciated you?
If you can’t think of the last time this happened, you are not alone. According to a study by Achievers, 1 in every 5 employees says their company or manager is “horrible” at recognizing them. As such, “lack of recognition” ranks in the top three reasons employees consider leaving their jobs, just behind compensation and career growth.
But the impacts of employee and team recognition don’t stop there. A great deal of research has been conducted on the topic and has concluded the following reasons are among the greatest benefits of recognition and appreciation in the workplace.
- People who feel appreciated by their company are less likely to quit within 3-6 months than those who don’t. (Survey Monkey)
- Praising teams can encourage collaboration by de-incentivizing self-protective behavior like information hoarding. More than half of the people on teams that are recognized strongly agree that they "openly share information, knowledge, and ideas." (Gallup)
- Employees who received recognition recently were significantly more likely to trust their leader (82% vs 48%). (Globoforce)
- Employee recognition is the second most powerful source of employee satisfaction, ranking higher than the work itself and job advancement opportunities. (HubSpot)
- Public recognition can feel more impactful to the recipient, and it can also boost motivation among all employees, including those who aren’t recognized themselves. (Harvard Business Review)
10 Alternative Ways to Express Your Appreciation That Aren’t “Good Job Team”
- “You make a difference to our organization. I want you to know your contributions do not go unnoticed by other leaders and me.”
- “I recognize that you all had to put in extra hours to achieve that. Not everyone would have, and I appreciate it. I want you each to take an afternoon off in the coming weeks in return for going the extra mile.”
- “Not everyone would have gone above and beyond as you did. But the fact that you did, is not only appreciated but impressive.”
- “I am proud to have you all on my team. You live by our company values, and I believe it inspires others, including myself, to do the same.”
- “Thank you for the amazing job you do every single day. Your unwavering commitment and effort make a real difference.”
- “I can’t thank you enough for what you all did. It wasn’t easy, but you made it look so and impressed [NAME] in the process. Job well done.”
- “The fact that I can fully count on you all makes my job that much easier. I want you to know that I appreciate that every day.”
- “Even though things aren’t going as we planned, you each have taken it in stride and kept a positive attitude, which I know is hard to do in such situations. Thank you for collectively making an effort to do so.”
- “I was really struggling last week until you all stepped in to help me. I am thankful to have you each on my team."
- “You didn’t have to help me yesterday, but the fact you did, helped me achieve my goal. I don’t know if I could have gotten there when I did without you all, so thank you.”
Is it surprising to you that words of appreciation like “thank you” or “job well done” have the power to reduce turnover, encourage collaboration, instill trust, boost satisfaction, and increase motivation? Going forward, try applying the best practices outlined in this article and using some of the example words of appreciation provided. Then, if you’re still struggling to give recognition and ultimately motivate your employees and team, consider taking a leadership program to develop your skills and boost your confidence.
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