Part of my work requires client site visits. I drive all over South Florida, every week, and I do it because in-person/in-house visits are the only way I can effectively do my job and generate positive results for my clients. My first meeting is generally with a business owner or manager, but if I am not able to sneak in a chat with the employees during that visit, I always come back. 

It is by listening to employees (and contractors) that I am able to get an in-depth look into the company’s operations, and gather information as to why employees are or are not able to perform their duties as expected, and what is the overall morale. In my experience, when morale is low and output not as expected, it is because upper management doesn’t see or is not aware of the full scope of issues happening down the ranks.  Being able to obtain this information directly from workers is invaluable. 

When morale is low, the most common denominator during my conversations with client’s staff is an overall sense of feeling unappreciated, of not having their efforts and contributions recognized by the company or even immediate colleagues. Others simply don’t see room for growth when their efforts go unnoticed. Having worked in an environment where nothing I did was ever right and achievements went unnoticed, even with favorable results, I can relate. 

Feeling Unseen Or Unheard, In Any Setting, Can Suck The Life Out Of You. 

As humans, we have a deep need to be appreciated in both professional and intimate relationships. We don’t want to be invisible, so working in an environment where you are unseen can make you feel as if you don’t belong. Employees who don’t feel a sense of belonging within a company will be less likely to bust a gut in the name of growth. After all, if a company isn’t noticing their employee’s contributions then they are missing out on opportunities that can benefit the organization. Happy employees make an effort, show up on time, and produce. Happy employees can help increase overall productivity, even if you have a few bad apples on board.

Unappreciated Employees Cost You Money. 

Unfortunately, many leaders struggle to make employees feel that their talents, efforts, and contributions matter. They don’t seem to know how to notice and value their workers, often because there are no organizational systems to show appreciation and gratitude were deserved. 

It Really Doesn’t Take Much

Seriously, it really doesn’t take much effort to make employees feel valued by letting them know the work they do is important. Taking the time to appreciate your team will ultimately improve the workplace environment as well as individual and team performance, all while helping the business reach its goals and set out the foundation for positive change.

By investing your time in building relationships with your team members, and encouraging and demonstrating appreciation for their contributions, you can foster an atmosphere of higher team efficacy, improved departmental spirit and ultimately, greater company morale. 

When employees feel valued and their input, feedback, and ideas are taken seriously, it builds trust in leadership and confidence in the company they work for. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they tend to remain motivated, strive towards new objectives.  They become more committed to the success of the organization. 

Valuing employees and showing it can lead to increased job satisfaction, resulting in higher rates of continued employment, advancement opportunities, and referrals. This has the potential to decrease turnover and improve retention rates. Many companies invest time and resources in training new personnel, yet they don’t make an effort to show appreciation, so employees end up leaving. In the end, the time and resources spent on training go to waste. 

What Can Leaders Do? 

In my experience working to improve organizations, I’ve observed that many managers struggle to make employees feel that their talents and contributions are noticed and valued. I have also discovered that while leaders feel it’s challenging to show their staff appreciation, the employees think it’s actually pretty simple, and I agree with them, wholeheartedly. To help a little, I put together a few actionable organizational efforts to help leaders show appreciation and gratitude:

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

By placing importance on achieving a balance between work and personal life, companies can yield significant outcomes in terms of employee satisfaction and work productivity. This correlation between work-life balance, job performance, and gratification is well documented and should be taken into consideration by organizations. 

Here are some strategies to ensure employees achieve a work-life balance, which in turn prevents burnout, reduces stress levels, saves costs, and fosters a company culture rooted in consideration:

  • Offer and encourage wellness days, and support overall health and wellness among your team.
  • Encourage employee autonomy, but follow it with praise.
  • Offer flexible work hours, including remote working opportunities when possible.
  • Create and offer generous paid time off programs, and ensure there is a respectful culture regarding off-hours communication.
  • Offer time management skill development.

Establish an Employee Recognition Program

Acknowledging the effort put forth by teams and individuals throughout the year via recognition programs positively impacts employee morale. I have a client who was literally ‘shocked’ when his employees started showing up early for work after we implemented this company’s first ever employee appreciation system. You can inquire with current staff regarding their preferred type of recognition, such as initiating a club that celebrates an Employee of the Month or hosting an annual rewards/awards ceremony. Providing monetary benefits, arranging for lunch with upper management, or offering earned time off are other potential ideas to consider.

Offer Performance Based Pay Incentives

It is vital to ensure that the progress and proficiency your employees exhibit are duly recognized and rewarded by aligning their incentives, granting pay increments, or giving bonuses. To maintain a high morale among employees and to demonstrate that their growth is proportional to their performance, it is essential to examine the benefits of merit-based raises and bonuses compared to those based on the duration of employment. This approach would prevent inadvertently rewarding those staff who are underperforming and will help those who go the extra mile feel “extra appreciated.”

Offer Professional Development Opportunities

Showing appreciation for your staff includes investing in them. Their personal and professional growth is also in your best interest and will eventually play to your advantage. Employees who feel appreciated and are given opportunities for professional growth and learning  will feel a sense of belonging within your company, rather than just a paycheck. 

Consider creating an in-house training program or budgeting for an educational fund to further your employee’s learning growth. If there is no budget for an educational fund (this has been my experience with startups), then examine the possibility of providing cross-training between departments. This is a cost-effective way to get your staff to discover new skills. Another cost-efficient way of supporting professional growth within your company is by offering in-house mentoring programs where your employees have the opportunity to learn from upper management and experienced staff members. Whether it is through one-on-one meetings with department heads or managers, dedicated learning time, or career/skills management guidance, giving employees ample opportunities for growth is an investment in them and in your company. 

Develop a Team Building Program

The right team building activities/approach can help build long-lasting effective collaboration and job satisfaction within an organization. It’s important to note that these activities alone  are not enough to simply assemble individuals with the hope of creating a strong team. Relying on team building exercises can serve as the crucial component that is necessary to foster a greater sense of unity and support, ultimately leading to a more efficient and cohesive team. But solid leadership is the icing on the cake. Without it, both teams and systems fall apart. 

But looking for ways to strengthen your team’s relationships and build togetherness may not always be easy. The trick is to make it as uncomplicated yet powerful as possible. Stick to team building exercises that will help you in selecting an appropriate team building activity. 

During team building exercises and activities, as a leader, please keep the following in mind: 

  • Consider the input of each individual.
  • Be attentive to the feelings of others.
  • Be a unifying force.
  • Be a mediator.
  • Be sensitive.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be a facilitator.
  • Be a communicator.
  • Be a problem solver.
  • Be a decision maker.

Remember, there are no bad ideas (well, almost always). Set the example by being open with your employees, and sensitive to their moods and feelings. Look for opportunities to mediate and to resolve small conflicts; always direct people back to the larger goal. Be careful not to issue unclear directions. Keep in mind that the relationships that develop among your employees are just as important as those you form with them. As the team begins to gel, pay careful attention to the way its members interact and take steps to improve their communication and cooperation. Stress the importance of each of your  employees’ contributions and show how all of their tasks are interdependent.

Let your staff work out solutions on their own. Communication is the single most important factor in achieving effective teamwork. Don’t just hold meetings all the time. Instead, set the example by listening, asking, and answering questions, and by doing whatever you can to avoid confusing messages.

Be sure that you talk to your staff members about the progress they are making towards their goals, so that they get a sense of both their successes and the challenges ahead. Make sure that your team has a clear idea of what it is trying to accomplish; that it knows what its standards of success are; that it has established specific deadlines; and that each person understands his or her responsibilities.

Establish objectives and solve problems. While it may take longer to reach a consensus, this approach will ultimately produce a better decision and greater productivity because it will secure everyone’s commitment to the entire project. These are the rules that you and the rest of the team create to ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction. They can be straightforward instructions (Employees are to be on time for meetings) or general principles (Everyone on the team has an equal right to contribute), but make sure that they are created through discussion and are agreed to by everyone.

You may want to conduct an open debate on the merits of various alternatives, or set up research teams to study issues and report back. As a leader, your primary responsibility is to create consensus among your subordinates. Be aware that your employees may be reluctant to disagree, and that this reluctance can lead to poor decision-making. When you encourage people to voice their opinions, you stimulate creativity, and that’s how you’ll achieve superior results.

Be aware of the tension that can build up when a team is not reaching agreement. At the beginning of your discussion, establish a time limit, and work with the members of the team to reach a decision within that time frame. Watch out for “false” consensus; if everyone agrees too quickly, be sure to probe the feelings of individual group members.

About Good Leadership

It seems that most leaders have problems when it comes to acknowledging employee’s praiseworthy efforts, and that is a problem in itself. Effective leadership is founded on excellent communication and relational competence. As a leader, you must have the ability to articulate your thoughts clearly and offer feedback while empathizing with their perspectives. By taking this approach, leaders can form strong, healthy connections built on mutual trust and respect. An employee with a leader who takes the time to praise will be more keen to put in extra work to get the job done. A good leader needs to constantly motivate, influence, and inspire the staff’s creativity, drive, and innovative ideas while effectively persuading others to work as a team. 

In a Nutshell

It’s important for employers to understand that employees are there as hired help. You, on the other hand, own the business or perhaps a percentage of sales comprise part of your salary. Either way, for you, giving all of you is the only choice you have if the business is to succeed. For your employees, finding a place where they belong is the equivalent of owning their own business or helping to operate a family business. You must create a culture and environment where your employees feel as if there is room for professional growth. It is only when you are respected, appreciated, and noticed that you can give your all and feel a sense of belonging. 

Employees who feel valued at work are happier, more productive and less likely to look for other employment opportunities. There are many ways to show employees how much you value them—from recognition programs and financial incentives to simple gestures, like listening and taking action on employee feedback. Knowing the importance of valued employees and how to show appreciation can create a strong company culture.

Diana Giorgetti
Diana Giorgetti

Diana Giorgetti is a multiple trauma survivor, author, idea brewer, problem solver, professional freelancer, and web-designer. A graduate of the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University with degrees in Psychology and Education Law, she is passionate about helping others, scuba diving, and writing (though not necessarily in that order). She lives in Miami, Florida with her two children and three dogs. She is the author of "The Fundamentals of PTSD: A Guide to Disemboweling the Disorder and Reclaiming Your Life," "PTSD & Relationships: A Survival Guide to Love and Be Loved," and "The PTSD Warrior Healing Mindset: Changes in Habits and Routines to Help Retrain the Brain After Trauma," and she's working on her fourth self-help book. You can find Diana's books on Amazon: