Does your business or organisation have an active system of expressing appreciation to the people who work within and interact with your business? Do you know why it's super important and can be incredibly beneficial to have one? If, like me, one of your love languages happens to be words of affirmation, then i imagine i might already be preaching to the choir on this one. But if telling people how you feel is not one of your personal, professional or organisational defaults, let me give you 5 reasons why it's incredibly beneficial as a leadership strategy and a workplace wellbeing and culture building strategy to create more touch points of authentic appreciation at all levels within your organisation, beyond the standard systems of recognition of personal and collective performance and achievement alone.
What is appreciation, really? To borrow from Berkley's definition of both appreciation and gratitude: "Researchers define appreciation  as the act of acknowledging the goodness in life—in other words, seeing the positives in events, experiences, or other people (like our colleagues). Gratitude  goes a step further: It recognizes how the positive things in our lives—like a success at work—are often due to forces outside of ourselves, particularly the efforts of other people. "  From the now growing body of evidence on the numerous benefits of practice of gratitude and appreciation in the workplace, 5 very desirable benefits for both the individual, teams and organisations as a whole include:
Greater Personal Satisfaction
At the personal level, several studies sited by Berkley suggest that staff practicing and receiving more touch-points of appreciation feel more positive emotions , less stress and fewer health complaints  a greater sense that we can achieve our goals , fewer sick days  and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers . Employees engaged with such organisations are more enthused about coming to work and passionate about the organisation they're engaged with, as opposed to feeling like a means to an end in somebody else's grand plan.
Managers who express appreciation to the people who work for them, may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. Up to 50% harder even.  A study reported by Harvard Medical School and conducted by researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. The first group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations using the standard organisational procedures at the time. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the Director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. Over the next week, the study showed that the university employees who heard her thank you pep talk, made 50% more fund-raising calls than those in the group that didn’t.  Taking the time the time to say thank you regularly, positively impacts staff/team productivity for your organisation.
Greater spontaneous participation in workplace and cultural activities
Staff members in organisations with a proactive culture of appreciation are also more likely to volunteer charitable acts of service to the organisation , like offering to give an orientation to a new employee, or helping set up for and run an event, or dropping off some mail to a post box on behalf of someone else, or volunteering to cover for someone while someone else is busy.
Better Quality Working Relationships
In my years of Team Management, HR support and talking to clients of various organisations alike about their grievances, I’ve noticed a common theme in just how often all it has taken for someone to pull back from working hard or active engagement in a working relationship, is for them to feel like they’re not being acknowledged or heard in their concerns. Or appreciated for their efforts, or previously emotional and physical investments made in the working relationship. But the moment either a Leader, an appropriate team member or service provider makes the time to show up and both listen and reconnect with positive affirmation of the reasons you came together in the first place, with genuine concern for what the person needs going forward and with sincere appreciation of the value they contribute and thanks for theei efforts, it’s amazing how instantaneously things can turn around. Thus, making time for regular touch points of appreciation from day 1, as well as for opportunities for recognition of performance and achievement, can dramatically reduce staff turnover and increase the longitivtiy of working relationships of all kinds.
Being appreciative literally makes us more likeable
On a final note, and more personal gain for the individual Leader note, Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, in an interview for Women of Impact , sited studies in which they researched what exactly it was that made the “popular’ peeps the most likeable at school. One of the main things they found was the most likeable people have a different mindset when they enter a room, to the average other person in the room.
Often when we're in a social situation, the average person is thinking about their anxiety and what they need, or need to get out of this experience, if not secretly praying for a secret escape from it, particularly if it is business related. But the most "likeable" people, on the flip-side, are actually going into the room looking for people they like and things about those people they like; in other words, with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation. In a workplace or networking context, she suggested that an attitude of appreciation and service, ultimately leads to a whole other level of openness and a completely different lot of conversations, based on authenticity, resonance and how you can genuinely be of service to one another, both immediately in that moment, and in future. Engaging at this level, literally allows for more authentic likeability and relational longevity.
There is now plenty of evidence that shows that, when people feel truly seen and appreciated, they’re more proactive in participating in their work and hence more productive and engaged , they’re more altruistic in what they’re willing to contribute to support the team you’re in and to the organisation (without you ever needing to ask them to be) and they more outgoing in their participation in social and team building activity. As well as committed to bringing the best of themselves to each of their work relationships. As Leaders, thus, it’s super important that we model this practice ourselves and find numerous, situationally specific ways to bring more expressions of appreciation into all of our work touch points. And consistently at that.
How can you be more proactive at work in bringing more expressions of authentic appreciation into your everyday work and organisational activities?
 Kennelly, S, A scientific reason to stop and smell the roses, July 3 2012
 The Greater Good Science Centre, What is gratitude, Greater Good Magazine, UC Berkley
 Newman, K, How gratitude can transform your workplace, Berkley Workplace, Sep 6 2017
 Two Positive Psychology Interventions to Increase Employee Wellbeing, Journal of Business and Psychology 29(3):367-380 · September 2013
 Bono, J.E, Glombe, T.M. et al, Building positive resources; effects of positive events and positive reflection on work stress and health, Academy of Management Journal, 2013, Vol. 56, No. 6, 1601–1627
 Grant, A.M. and Gino, F, A little thanks goes a long way; explaining why gratitude motivates prosocial behaviour, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 98 ; 946-55, June 2010
 Hu, X, Kaplan, S et al, Accentuate the Positive: Which Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Which Work Outcomes?, The Psychologist-Manager Journal 20(2):74-89 · May 2017
 Higginbottom, K, Employee Appreciation Pays Off, Forbes, Mar 3, 2017
 Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, In Praise of Gratitude, Updated: June 5, 2019, Published: November, 2011
 Bucchi, O, Di Fabio, A and Palazzeschi, L, Gratitude in Organizations: A Contribution for Healthy Organizational Contexts, Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 2025.
 Douglas J. Brown, D.J., Keeping, L.M. et al, Helpful Today, But Not Tomorrow? Feeling Grateful as a Predictor of Daily Organizational Citizenship Behaviors, Wiley Online Library, 18 June 2013
 Van Edwards, V, How to Be More Likable and Impressive, Vanessa Van Edwards on Women Of Impact, April 17, 2019
 Waters, L. Predicting Job Satisfaction: Contributions of Individual Gratitude and Institutionalized Gratitude, Psychology, 2012. Vol.3, No.12A, 1174-1176
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