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  • Melissa Sims

Creating a Culture of Appreciation

As a leader, you inevitably have a responsibility on your shoulders of what kind of culture you inspire, and how your staff buys into that idea. Modeling the behavior that you want to see in others is a crucial step in building the foundation of a successful team. A workplace where people feel valued as an individual, not just as an employee, and where they are recognized for their accomplishments and goals, is bound to be a workplace that thrives.

As you are aware, the workforce is suffering right now. The pool of available employees has dwindled, and those that are available for work are looking for something truly rewarding. According to a survey from WorkTango, “79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as the reason. In a survey of 613 employers, those with a recognition system had a 13% lower turnover rate. And in this job market, that could be a major gamechanger.” And this makes sense, considering how much time is spent at work. If you can shift the dynamic more toward a culture of appreciation, you’ll have staff that want to work hard, want to meet their goals, and want to do what is best for the program.

How can you begin to foster this type of culture? Your first step really should be finding out your staff’s language of appreciation. There’s a great book that we’ve covered in the past, The 5 Languages of Appreciation In the Workplace. Reading the book is a great activity to do together and helps you get to know your team. Some people don’t like public recognition, and some do. Some love gifts, others don't. Once you have figured out their specific language, here are some great ideas to help get you on the path to motivated staff, who feel seen, appreciated, and respected.

Be a bucket filler, not a bucket dipper. This is a concept that was first brought about in a book by Don Clifton & Tom Rath. It’s a simple concept: are you taking more than you are giving? Fill someone’s bucket more than you take from it, with things like kindness, compassion, gratitude, etc.

Check in with staff. What is working for them? What isn’t? Solicit their feedback. This shows that you respect their opinions and want to make the workplace collaborative.

Acknowledge milestones. Birthdays, workplace anniversaries, promotions, etc. These are all a big deal and should be recognized in their language of appreciation.

Celebrate small wins, and REALLY celebrate big wins! Are they meeting their goals? Give them a shout out so the whole team can join in on the accomplishment. Sometimes it is hard to know that they are making an impact, and feeling recognition let’s them know that they are doing something important, and that you appreciate their efforts.

Encourage them to try new things! This shows that you have a level of trust in their ability, and that you want to see them grow.

Try a kudos jar! In a common space at the office, if you are not remote, set up a jar with pens and a notepad next to it. Encourage staff to write someone’s name on the paper, then fold it with a note inside of why they appreciate that person. Read them once per week to get staff connected and feeling appreciated!

When people feel like they matter, and that what they do matters, they are more engaged, more loyal, and more willing to go above and beyond in their work. This is the kind of workplace culture we want to foster!


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