In an earlier blog I talked about a few key activities that can really improve the employee experience. Now, I’d like to talk about the X Factor. No, not the Simon Cowell music talent search, but the search for that one thing that most impacts employee engagement.
In my humble opinion, the greatest influence on employee engagement is APPRECIATION.
We learn early on the value of appreciation and I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel just a bit better when he/she is sincerely appreciated. Let me re-emphasize that again – not just appreciation, but SINCERE appreciation. If the gesture isn't received genuinely then it isn't received at all.
Sincerely appreciating someone comes in many forms. It can be planned or spontaneous, spoken or written, private or public, accompanying a gift or on its own.There are countless ways to appreciate someone and I believe a diverse approach works best. Do it sincerely, do it often, and do it differently.
I don’t read a lot of self help books – no, not because I can’t be better, because I absolutely can – it’s because I find very few truly interesting. One exception is Stephen Covey’s infamous Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the topics he covers is a concept called the Emotional Bank Account.
The concept is simple and ties in nicely to employee appreciation. It works like this: Every nice thing you do for someone is a deposit into his/her emotional bank account. On the contrary, for each not so nice thing you do, a withdrawal is made from his/her account. The intent is to keep the bank account heavily funded with deposits so that when a withdrawal is made, there is plenty of emotional cash left.
This is not to imply that we over appreciate just to protect us from the mistakes we may ultimately make. On the contrary, over time employees who have been sincerely and frequently appreciated will simply forgive and/or will be more understanding if something does not go their way at work.
Here are a few ways to effectively appreciate your employees:
1. Be Consistent. Whatever your approach stay the course and avoid appreciating someone the same way all the time. Change what you appreciate someone for and vary the approach, frequency and impact. For example, it could be a private thank you in your office for simply being part of the team or a public acknowledgement and a gift for completing a big project.
2. Be Genuine. I talked about sincerity at the beginning. This plays off the same theme. Before giving appreciation, role play with someone. Find out how you come across. You’d be amazed how easily we come across insincerely. It’s not because we don’t want to be sincere, giving praise just makes some of us uncomfortable. Test out your approach and then sincerely appreciate someone.
3. Be Bold. Here’s another X Factor within the X Factor. Celebrate semi annually in a grand, out of the ordinary way. Have what I refer to as an Employee Appreciation Day. Make it a time to really celebrate your employees. You can even turn it into a week long celebration. Be creative – decorate, write thank you letters, play games, giveaway prizes, feed everyone, and ask Marketing to pay for it! Make it an event to remember and the impact will be lasting and substantial!
Remember, Happy and Engaged employees = Satisfied and Loyal customers!
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