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Strong opinions and shared thoughts on companies, culture and Work — by the makers and friends of Ninety.io


Share the Love: Showing Appreciation for a Work From Anywhere Team

Summary: People don’t just like to feel appreciated… they need to feel appreciated! This article provides six concrete tips for leaders to ensure their team members know they are appreciated, no matter where they’re working from.

People want to know that their Work is appreciated. Just as human beings have a basic requirement for food and shelter, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we also have a need for self-esteem and the confidence that we made a positive impact in some way. As our CEO and Visionary Mark Abbott says, "To matter you have to matter, and we all want to matter." Our desire for love and connection extends into our need to be recognized for the impact we make. Doing meaningful Work that makes the world a better place—and being recognized for it—isn’t just a nice-to-have in one’s life, it is vital.

That’s why team members who regularly hear from leadership that their work is appreciated are five times more likely to remain in their job than those who don’t. And while we certainly shouldn’t ignore financial compensation, kudos don’t pay the bills. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that pay makes up only 12.8% of workplace satisfaction for people who earn less than $40,000. It’s even less for those who make more than $120,000.

Team members who regularly hear from leadership that their work is appreciated are five times more likely to remain in their job than those who don’t.”

We’ve written before about how we can't necessarily rely on spontaneous, organic communication in a Work From Anywhere™ (WFA) environment. Instead, we must be purposeful and mindful about it. The same goes for showing appreciation to team members working from anywhere, especially those not frequently (or ever) in the office. Setting up structures and creating space for appreciation helps to ensure their good acts are not overlooked and that their hard Work doesn’t go unnoticed. This can be as simple as a shoutout during a meeting with the rest of the team, but it’s even better to take a planned and purposeful approach. 

Consider the company values and culture to find ways to align team member appreciation around them. Here at Ninety®, we do something called “Core Value Shout Outs,” where individuals are publicly recognized for contributions that reflect one or more of our six core values. Not only does this show appreciation, it also highlights the importance of those values to others across the organization.

The ability to connect individual achievement to something bigger and show how that person’s Work made a positive difference in our company and to the world at large. So, we need to ask ourselves:

  1. How can we strengthen company culture and values through acts of team member appreciation?
  2. What kinds of accomplishments do we most want to recognize?
  3. Who provides the recognition and in what way?
What structures can be put in place to ensure team members feel appreciated?

Tips for Purposeful Team Recognition

Before we get to these tips, remember that appreciation doesn’t always have to come from leaders. Each team member has opportunities to recognize others, and be recognized by others, for good Work. One study, for example, found that people who regularly give recognition to their team members showed 26% higher engagement scores than those who did not. 

“People who regularly give recognition to their team members showed 26% higher engagement scores than those who did not."









Image from O.C. Tanner and Aon Hewitt Study on Recognition Trends

That said, appreciation shouldn’t become so routine that it loses its meaning (cue Steve Martin stand-up bit). If everything becomes an appreciation, nothing is really appreciated. Appreciation must be meaningful, genuine and authentic to have any power at all. 

Action Steps

With this in mind, here are six suggestions to help ensure that team members feel appreciated for their Work.

  1. During meetings, structure time to celebrate accomplishments, both of teams and individuals. If we’re running weekly meetings in Ninety, the Segue and Headline phases of Level 10 Meetings™ are a great place to do this. 
  2. Create a specific communications channel in Slack (or other IM platform).  Use this channel specifically for team members to call one another’s valued Work. Leadership should also pay attention to this channel and, from time to time, follow up with one-on-one communication to reinforce appreciation directly. Make it even more meaningful by sending a handwritten note. Because it’s increasingly rare that we communicate through personal notes via “snail mail” in the digital age, a short handwritten message is both cherished and impactful. 
  3. Reward exceptional Work. Recognition shouldn’t be transactional, but giving a team member a little extra something special to recognize extraordinary work is always appreciated. Suggestions: Extra time off, a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or even flowers delivered. Tangible rewards don’t even have to be very expensive to be extremely meaningful. It truly is the thought that counts, and the more thought we put in by selecting and sending a before-mentioned favorite, the more it will count.
  4. Reward with opportunities for future growth, such as learning a new skill or attending a special conference. This demonstrates that the company values their contribution as well as their personal development. It’s also a great way to show appreciation for the day-to-day wins, not just when people hit home runs.
  5. Give them tools that make it Almost Easy to Work From Anywhere. Funding items like a better laptop, a wifi hotspot, an adjustable standing desk or an ergonomic chair sends a strong message of support for their work both inside and outside of the office walls.
  6. Encourage people to carve out time for themselves. One of the top complaints of working from home is that they, ironically, have less time to exercise. Expressing appreciation can also include a focus on their wellbeing, which can include chunking time specifically for physical activities, complete with a paid-for online exercise program as a gift to balance their hard work with a healthier, balanced life. 

Spreading the love to team members, when done right, can help support a blossoming company culture, a decline in employee turnover, and higher levels of employee engagement. What did someone do that you appreciated recently? Share the love and let them know.

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Topics: People

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