The Human Side of Your Brand Is the Most Costly But the Most Valuable

February 9, 2015 2:11 pm Published by

Coming up with workplace policies workers find beneficial, help boost morale, and that lead to low employee turnover are things you hope all businesses do for their employees. Maintaining employees makes good sense for a business, as employee turnover comes with its own headaches and growing costs.

No business wants to lose its employees, but when it does, it has to replace them, which is often a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Productivity is affected when an employee leaves the business, and often the firm has to scramble to find a replacement who will definitely take time before adapting to the new environment.

Interestingly enough, many employees who leave cite one aspect that many business owners and top management often overlook as one of the major reasons for doing so: lack of appreciation. Keeping team members feeling appreciated is often a challenge for small business owners, who in addition to running the team have to tend to numerous time-consuming aspects of the business. However, their lack of investment in appreciation often leads to a negative work environment characterized by disgruntled and unhappy employees, poor customer service, and a decline in productivity and workplace professionalism. Given the fast pace of running a business, showing genuine appreciation is often overshadowed by far more important things.

Does it mean business owners completely forget to appreciate staff?

Not exactly, only that business owners (and organizations) tend to mistake employee recognition for appreciation. You see, nearly 90 percent of businesses in the country have some sort of employee recognition and rewards program, but interestingly the popularity of such programs has led to a decline in employee satisfaction.

Why, you ask?

Employee recognition programs fail to convey genuine appreciation because:

  • They are generic. All employees get the same gift bag, certificate, or thank you card.
  • They are too general. “Thank you for the work you do.”
  • They don’t happen as frequently as employees would like them to. For example, only during performance reviews does an employee get to be appreciated.
  • They address groups rather than individuals. “We want to thank you all for your hard work in completing the project.”

In the end, employees become cynical of the owner’s attempt at appreciation because it fails to capture their individual appreciation needs. Each individual has their own way of feeling appreciated, and each member will react differently to different forms of appreciation. Many would rather skip the public nature of recognition programs, and not everyone is motivated by an increase in compensation.

Fortunately, for business owners there is a way to show a human side in their appreciation efforts, and that’s in large part due to the Languages of Appreciation presented by Dr. Paul White and Gary Chapman in their New York Times best-seller, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

The languages of appreciation

Chapman and White’s extensive workplace research allowed them to come up with the languages each individual innately values when it comes to being appreciated. These are:

  1. Words of affirmation. Some people like it when you compliment them for work well done. “Great work, Martin, that was an awesome presentation back there.”
  2. Quality time. Other people don’t value verbal praise as highly, and instead appreciate spending quality time with the team leader to discuss issues that are important to them.
  3. Acts of service. There are those team members who value action over everything else. When you lend a hand in the work they perform, they feel valued, respected, and appreciated for their input. Often, you’ll hear them say things to the effect, “Gee, I wish someone would give me a hand in this project instead of continually telling me what a good job I’m doing.” Sound familiar?
  4. Tangible gifts. For some employees, small gifts mean the world to them. When you walk into the office with their favorite coffee brand, you’ve made their day. You have to know what they like and value, and most often it is something outside of the office. It could be getting them a magazine on a topic they enjoy (cars, gardening), or a jersey for the sports team they root for. The onus is on you to take the time and find out what these team members like.
  5. Physical touch. Physical touch has to be the appropriate kind in all cases. High-fives and fist bumps are appropriate, and communicate to some members that you value their work. A handshake, hug or pat on the back also qualify, and are examples of appropriate physical touch that convey genuine appreciation.

Because it is very important—if you are to encourage and show authentic appreciation—that you know the appreciation language each team member responds positively to, Chapman and White went ahead and designed a Motivating by Appreciating Inventory, a tool that lets you identify and record the primary appreciation language for every employee. This tool makes it easier for you to convey appreciation in the most effective manner, eliminating any trial and error techniques that waste time and cause further disgruntlement among the workforce.

Make it a priority to communicate genuine appreciation to your staff/employees/team members, and you will see a positive transformation in the way they relate to each other, to customers, and to the work quality they deliver to your business.

Maria Elena Duron is a connector, trainer and coach. Small Business Owners that work with Maria Elena develop a profitable relationship building system, appeal to their brand advocates, and increase sales. Take the uncertainty out of how your personal and business brand delivers business – Get Your Checklist.


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February 9, 2015 2:11 pm

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