Communicating Appreciation without Breaking the Bank

January 27, 2020 9:00 am Published by
Appreciate your employees without spending lots of money.

Image by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

The reality is, all companies and organizations have limited financial resources. So, accomplishing the organization’s goals and building a healthy culture must happen within these limitations. Fortunately, building a positive culture with appreciation doesn’t take a lot of money. Rather what is needed is a plan with appropriate tools and the commitment to implement that plan.

Communicating Meaningful & Impactful Appreciation

Taking the time to show team members that you appreciate their efforts and value them as people (not just ‘work units’) can provide a much-needed boost in encouragement. Research has shown us effective ways to communicate appreciation and encouragement to your team members, without having to spend a lot of money: 

  1. Make sure your communication is personal and fitted to the individual rather than utilizing general communication across the organization. The key component to effective appreciation and encouragement is the sense by the recipient that you mean what you say and that you took time to think about them personally. Conversely, we have found that a global “Thanks for a good job done” email to a wide range of people across the organization actually generates a negative response from most team members, given its impersonal nature and the minimal effort needed to communicate the message.
  1. “Speak the language” of the person whom you are trying to encourage. If the action we take to communicate appreciation to our colleagues isn’t what is important to them, we have wasted our time and effort. Communicating encouragement and appreciation which is impactful must “hit the target” for the recipient. This is why we developed the MBA Inventory – to identify each team member’s preferred languages of appreciation and to specify the actions most valued by them.
  1. The languages of appreciation people value the most don’t have to cost a lot of money. Sure, almost everyone would like a bonus or a raise – but for many organizations that is not possible. The ways that people experience appreciation in the workplace fall into five categories:
  • Words of Affirmation – praise communicated orally or in writing
  • Quality Time – focused attention such as having individual time with your supervisor, “hanging out” with coworkers, working together on a project
  • Acts of Service – helping coworkers troubleshoot or complete a time-sensitive project
  • Tangible Gifts – giving a small gift reflecting colleagues’ food preferences, hobbies or interests
  • Appropriate Physical Touch – a celebratory high five, fist bump, or handshake

Most of these don’t cost anything financially (even tangible gifts don’t have to cost much). For example, some of the most cited ways employees report feeling valued include:

  • Receiving a note complimenting you on the good job you are doing, how you are an asset to the team, or have an admirable personality trait
  • Receiving an e-card saying “I just wanted to let you know …; It is really helpful to me when you …”
  • A team member stopping by your office, spending a few minutes with you to see how you are doing
  • Doing something together with your co-worker (like eating together)
  • Having someone do a small task spontaneously (hold open the door, offer to carry something)
  • Obtaining some help from a colleague who notices you are “buried” (or your computer isn’t working)
  • Getting a gift certificate after you have worked long hours to complete a big project (for example, to go to the movies)
  • Being surprised with your favorite coffee, drink, snack or dessert
  • Having your co-workers give you a high five after you have successfully completed an important presentation
  • Being greeted warmly by your colleague, with a smile and a handshake (Say something like “It’s good to see you!”; “How is your day going?”)

Each person has their own preferred “language of appreciation.” And within each language, there are specific actions that are most valued by that individual. None of these actions cost much money. And, as we have documented elsewhere, team members who feel appreciated actually create financial benefits for the organization. The key is to be able to use the right action with the right person, at the right time, and with a genuine spirit of appreciation. Then your actions will “hit the target” and be effective in encouraging those with whom you work.

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Published by
January 27, 2020 9:00 am

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