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How to Boost Employee Engagement by Showing Appreciation

When it comes to formal recognition programs, how does your organization stack up?

  • 50% of employers see their employee recognition programs as an investment in their workforce (WorldAtWork)
  • 60% of companies fund at least four to six different types of recognition programs (Maritz Motivation)
  • There is a $46 billion market for employee recognition (gold watches, pins, thank-you awards, plaques, etc.). Companies spend between 1-2% of payroll on these items. 87% of those recognition program dollars focus on tenure. People primarily get rewarded for sticking around. (Bersin)

You might be surprised (and pleased!) to learn that you don’t have to invest in expensive, formal recognition programs to make employees feel appreciated. In fact, it could be working against you if your formal programs cause managers to forego informal, in-the-moment appreciation and acknowledgement.

Sometimes, simple, informal, authentic affirmation is best.


Do Your Employees Feel Appreciated?


Boost Employee Engagement by Showing AppreciationSimple appreciation goes a long way. When the appreciation is genuine, very few people have ever been appreciated too much. Instead, there seems to be a widespread lack of articulated appreciation in the workplace:

  • 42% of employees believe their accomplishments go unnoticed (OC Tanner)
  • Only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. At any given company, it's not uncommon for employees to feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. (Gallup)

How do you stack up here?

Why Sincerely Recognizing and Appreciating Employees Is So Important

This isn’t about making people feel good just for the sake of feeling good. It’s about doing the things that improve business results. Consider that:

  • 88% of employees agree it’s important that employers reward employees for great work (AttaCoin)
  • 75% of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their job (BambooHR)
  • Workers that were recognized in the last month are 29% more likely to say that “The work we do at my organization has meaning and purpose for me” (Globoforce)
  • 93% of workers, at companies with recognition programs tied to core values, agree the work they do has meaning and purpose (Globoforce)
  • Further, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year (Gallup)
  • Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a "recognition-rich culture" actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates. (Bersin)


People want to be appreciated. They need to be appreciated for the work they do, preferably for the ways they contribute to a larger purpose (vs. merely for completing a task). When they are appreciated, they are more engaged and more likely to stay with the organization.

Ultimately, higher levels of employee engagement and retention leads to stronger business results. This is backed by reams of research. It’s indisputable that improving engagement leads directly to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, higher topline revenue, and stronger profit margins.

To download additional stats on employee engagement and recognition, check out this comprehensive resource from Access Perks.

Next Steps for Improving Employee Engagement with Simple and Sincere Appreciation

When asked what types of recognition were the most memorable, respondents to a Bersin survey emphasized six methods:

  • public recognition or acknowledgment via an award, certificate or commendation
  • private recognition from a boss, peer or customer
  • receiving or obtaining a high level of achievement through evaluations or reviews
  • promotion or increase in scope of work or responsibility to show trust
  • monetary award such as a trip, prize or pay increase
  • personal satisfaction or pride in work

This, then, is your blueprint for actionable and easy-to-implement changes you can make in your organization. Don’t rely on the last one, because intrinsic motivation is a “gimme” if you’ve hired well. And it needs reinforcement, too. Aim for every manager to increase the quantity and the quality of the recognition they offer each employee. That should include all forms of recognition – affirmation, acknowledgement, appreciation, praise, encouragement, and validation.

Model appreciation from the top, too, so that no one feels taken for granted. All appreciation should be sincere, and it should be offered without conditions or “buts.”

Once people grow accustomed to giving more appreciation, they’ll realize that it actually feels good and buoys their spirit, too. This is win/win for the giver and the receiver… and it’s a huge win for the organization, too.