Benefits of Showing Employees Appreciation & Gratitude

Happy employee discussing benefits


In this post, we look at some doable strategies—strategies that get around the common fears managers have about expressing gratitude— and present a few ideas on how to show appreciation to employees you could implement in time for Employee Appreciation Day and beyond. We also look at the benefits of appreciation and why showing employees appreciation and gratitude in the workplace is a good idea.


Why Showing Employees Appreciation in the Workplace & Gratitude Works in Your Favor


Appreciation Makes Employees Feel Human 

As humans, we tend to want to feel valued, or at least appreciated, and we want to contribute because we know we can make a difference. It’s impractical for employers to fight human nature because humans will seek meaning and purpose no matter what. Being appreciated helps us to feel that we’re living a life of meaning—that we’re having a positive impact in someone else’s life.1


Of course, if this doesn’t convince you to show employees that you appreciate them, maybe some of these statistics will:


•    Not feeling appreciated is the number one reasons why most employees leave their job. This isn’t good news for employers, considering survey results show that 65% of employees receive no recognition at work for a full year.

•    Employee recognition programs lower frustration levels in companies by 28.6%.

•    Companies with recognition programs that engage workers enjoy a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate.4


Indeed, appreciating employees is an essential part of creating a company culture that attracts and retains top talent.


Recognition Facilitates Greater Trust Between Employees and Managers

Employee trust in their employer is down, and this trend appears at multiple levels in the workplace. According to research appearing in Forbes, 82% of employees don’t trust their boss to be truthful with them and 65% of employees in the U.S. would rather have a better boss than a pay raise.5 


For companies to succeed, there needs to be some level of trust between employees and management, and showing appreciation is one way to build that trust. According to a recent survey, 50% of workers believe that being appreciated or recognized by their manager would improve their relationship with their manager. They also believed it would build trust with those higher up in the company.6


Recognition Increases Happiness and Satisfaction, Resulting in Improved Productivity and Greater Profits

Employees who receive expressions of gratitude are more likely to feel happy and satisfied at work. This is good news for employers because that happiness and satisfaction translates to more productivity and profit. 


Just look at these examples7:


•    Walt Disney World Resort. Walt Disney World Resort created an employee recognition program wherein supervisors recognized employees daily. The results? Walt Disney World Resort experienced a 15% increase in employee satisfaction. During this period, guests reported that they were more satisfied with their stay. They also noted that they would be more likely to return. This was good news for Walt Disney World Resort—return visits easily lead to larger profits and, potentially, more referrals. 

•    Sears, Roebuck, & Co. Sears, Roebuck, & Co. found that as employee attitude scores rose by 5%, customer satisfaction rose by up to 3%, and revenue rose by .5%.

From Walt Disney World Resort and Sears, Roebuck, & Co., we can conclude that letting employees know they’re appreciated does have the potential to impact your bottom line. 


Receiving Gratitude Positively Impacts Our Health, Leading to Lower Healthcare Costs and More Successful Wellness Programs

According to an American Psychological Association Survey, workers who feel appreciated are more likely to be physically and mentally healthy.8


Employers who want to save on healthcare costs and improve their workplace wellness program results should consider implementing an employee appreciation program. Employee appreciation initiatives and workplace wellness programs share many of the same goals, and each program can reinforce the other. 


Of course, implementing an employee appreciation program is sometimes easier said than done. 

How to Overcome Fear of Showing Gratitude as a Manager


According to the Trends in Employee Recognition Survey, only 46% of managers see employee recognition programs as an investment.9 While unfortunate, this statistic isn’t that surprising. 


Many managers are afraid that if they show too much appreciation, employees will begin to ask for more pay, more responsibility, or something else that they can’t grant. Managers are afraid that their employees will feel “swindled” by their expression of appreciation if they’re unable to grant employees’ larger requests. 


Basically, many managers feel that they’re facing the age-old “if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk” conundrum. 


But there’s good news. There won’t necessarily be a ceiling effect if you let your employees know you appreciate them—this means employees won’t necessarily get upset when they realize there are limits to how you can show appreciation. 


Case in point:

•    Simple day-to-day expressions of recognition are among the most effective forms of employee recognition—to many employees, it means more to receive a sincere thank you than to receive a materialistic reward.  Employees enjoy deriving feelings of satisfaction and happiness from the compliments they receive, and the comradery that develops as the result of being appreciated.10

•    70% of employees believe the most meaningful recognition “has no dollar value.”10

•    83% of employees say heartfelt recognition for contribution is more fulfilling than recognition that comes in the form of rewards and gifts.10


If you ask employees, they’ll probably tell you that their relationship with their managers has a greater influence on whether they stay or go. Most employees are reasonable enough to understand that companies have certain limits on giving bonuses and pay raises, and they won’t be terribly upset if their bonus wasn’t as big as they had hoped. But, they will be affected by their relationship with their manager. 


The lesson to be learned? It’s important for managers to express appreciation for their employees and to do so in personal, heartfelt ways, because this form of appreciation means more to employees, and it doesn’t lead to unrealistic expectations. 


So, if you’d like to start showing employees they’re appreciated, especially with Employee Appreciation Day around the corner, here are a few ideas to get you started that highlight the importance of showing appreciation to employees.


10 Easy Ways on How to Show Employee Appreciation in the Workplace


Here are several ways to show appreciation to employees.

1.    Thank an employee using their first name—using a first name makes the gesture more meaningful.

2.    Thank an employee by specifically stating what it is they did that you appreciated and why you appreciated it—being specific can reinforce good behavior, so this is a win for you in more ways than one.

3.    Let an employee know how they’ve added value to the team or the organization.

4.    Publicly recognize an employee at a company function or meeting.

5.    Add a personal note to an employee’s personnel file and give them a copy of it.

6.    Let the employee have some time during the week to work on a personal project they feel can add value to the company.

7.    Take an employee out to lunch. 

8.    Give an employee a day or afternoon off as a reward for their hard work. 

9.    Celebrate an employee’s personal milestones (e.g., getting married, having a baby, buying a house, etc.)—this let’s the employee know you see them as a human and appreciate them as a person.

10.    Let the employee name their own reward—of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to set limits. 


Great Benefits Show Employees Appreciation Too

For the best results—from turn over reduction and increased productivity to workplace culture and happiness—let employees know they’re appreciated regularly. Simple gestures are a great place to start, but offering terrific benefits is the best way to show appreciation all year round. Employees appreciate an employer who takes care of them. If you’re looking for a way to show employees appreciation—beyond simple gestures like saying thank you—consider evaluating the benefits you offer. HRA company, Clarity Benefit Solutions, can connect you to everything from health reimbursement account administration to revolutionary products employees are sure to love. Visit our website to learn more today!

2. Gallup, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, 2001.
3. SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012
4. Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012
9. WorldatWork, Trends in Employee Recognition, 2013