Gone are the days of management diktats, when authority preceded autonomy. If you under the impression that modern day organisations are run by machines or computers, then think again!
Today, enterprises big and small realize that employees form the basis of an organization. Hence companies regularly organize various activities ranging from training programs to counselling to ensure every need of employees is taken care of. But are these tools enough to keep your most valuable resource satisfied? Are organizations really engaging with their employees by doing so?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion.
Employee engagement happens not through formal programs but through building a relationship of trust. Employees feel more connected when companies make them feel that they are a valuable part of the organization.
The role of appreciation. "Why do you go to work every day?" When asked that question, it always comes down to "I feel like I make a difference" as the main answer. How does the employee know she makes a difference? Only if she is told so – in many little ways. Today’s employees, more than ever before, need instant recognition.
Studies by Towers Watson, a leading HR consulting firm, have shown that employees who receive recognition in the workplace feel more valued and more committed. Also, they can deliver 57 per cent more effort than those who feel under-appreciated. They are also more likely to stay for the long term.
As individuals, we often fail to recognize the small things in life – how others are contributing towards our life and making things easier for us. Employees are more used to hearing criticism for things not done well than praise for things done well. Organizations are often reluctant to recognize people and believe that they are being paid for their work; they think that recognizing them regularly will make them complacent or seek monetary benefits. This is a misconception.
How to communicate appreciation. To be effective, appreciation needs to be timely, specific, public and fair. Timely appreciation, no matter how small — even a simple “thank you” or “good job” — works wonders at motivating people. Appreciation can be structured both formally and informally. In most organizations, there are appreciation programs like ‘milestone achievement’ on completing a certain number of years in the organization, or sending out bouquets on birthdays and anniversaries of employees. These programs will be effective only when they have a personal touch. Otherwise the value gets diminished. If it is left only to the HR team to periodically create a list of people to be recognized, it may not be of as much value to an employee as a genuine, timely “thank you”.
Formal HR employee programs need to be very structured and transparent. For example, when an employee is recognized for her work and an e-mail goes out to everybody, HR needs to set the guidelines very clearly about the basis for this recognition. This will inspire other employees.
However, what is more effective is informal appreciation, which is more personal. Imagine you are working on a project with a very tight deadline. You are putting in late hours and you are extremely stressed out. The next morning your manager comes to your desk, appreciates all your hard work, thanks you for taking up the challenging project and thanks your family for allowing work to encroach into your family time. You suddenly feel refreshed, energized and all set to perform at your best.
Appreciation has the power to engage employees’ heads, hearts, and hands. Here are a few ways in which appreciation can help.
Contributing to the employees efforts through rewards and providing appreciative feedback. The employee will feel that the organization is keeping track of even the smallest of achievements. This will motivate them to enhance performance.
Collaboration. Knowing about another person’s achievements through a public appreciation mail will help the employees gain a whole new perspective about the other person’s work and will foster strong intra-organizational relationships.
Giving credit. To give credit where it is due is one of the most vital aspects of appreciation. This gives the employee a personal identity and develops a stronger relationship between the employee and the organization.
An effective method is Appreciative Inquiry (AI). This helps an organization search for the best in people and the relevant world around them. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen an organization’s capacity to heighten positive potential. It works on the assumption that whatever you want more of already exists in the organization.
In the words of Margaret Cousins, an Irish-Indian educationist: “Appreciation can make a day — even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” In short, appreciation costs little, but the rewards are immense. Try it — you will like it.