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Rewarding Employees Without A Raise
Appreciation Is A Reward All Its Own

February 2015
Roxi Hewertson

Roxi Hewertson

In a word, appreciation drives self-esteem, happiness and even loyalty. Appreciation changes everything – an undeniable truth.

In fact, this notion is supported by research that’s found the No. 1 difference between people who love their work and people who don’t is the degree of appreciation they receive from their boss and their peers. A Global Recognition Study conducted for O.C. Tanner by professional services firm Towers Perrin interviewed 10,333 people from thousands of companies in 13 different countries. The study clearly concludes that appreciating great work dramatically improves employee engagement. And engagement, or volunteering more discretionary effort (want to, don’t have to) at the office, happens when people feel truly valued. The bonus for business – every minute of discretionary effort flows to the bottom line.

People crave appreciation and recognition for a job well done. And it doesn’t have to cost a penny. Imagine how it feels to get a real letter (OK, even an email will do) from your boss telling you how you made a positive difference. If your boss copied her boss, even better! How about noticing the little things that people are doing that make your work environment a better place.

Ken Blanchard in his classic leadership book “One Minute Manager” demonstrated this common sense principle decades ago. It’s amazing how often we forget something so simple that has such a huge impact on the people we lead. Blanchard reminded us to “catch people doing something right” and acknowledge them right away. It is even better when you do it in front of someone that person cares about or even let the word get out through your grapevine. In person is the best, of course!

There are so many “free” appreciation opportunities at your disposal. You can give time off – hours, a day, a birthday, offer new and/or coveted assignments, nominate stars for awards, provide a special parking pass, offer a better work space, approve flexible hours/space for great performance, have recognition brown bag lunches, invite them out for lunch on you. There are also endless possibilities that are very inexpensive and often very much appreciated. How about tickets for the lottery, movies, a concert, a game, car wash, etc.

The key to having your individual or team appreciation efforts pay big dividends is that you must meet the “MATS” test = Meaningful to the receiver(s), Authentic, Timely, Specific. Otherwise, it’s just lip service and you’ll do more harm than good.

If all of this is too taxing, just pay solid attention to your people, answer their questions, be accessible, and say a heartfelt “thank you” as often as possible. I95

Leadership authority Roxi Bahar Hewertson, CEO of Highland Consulting Group, Inc. and, brings over three decades of practical experience in the worlds of business, higher education and non-profits. She is an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and author of the book, “Lead Like it Matters…Because it Does.”