One of our shared human desires is to feel truly appreciated—an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude (according to Merriam-Webster). To create the most positive and productive work setting, leaders of organizations and teams must create a culture where every single employee feels appreciated in specific and personal ways.
According to Harvard Business School researchers Theresa Amiable, Ph.D., and Steven Kramer, Ph.D., the No. 1 motivation strategy for employees is consistent progress in meaningful work (coined the “progress principle”). Meaning, leaders are noticing their progress, showing gratitude for said progress, and celebrating them along the way—in other words, showing appreciation. Another study by researchers Adam Grant, Ph.D., and Francesca Gino, Ph.D., also found that when people experience gratitude from their manager, they’re more productive.
Many organizations have formal processes and procedures in place to ensure that employees feel recognized (like a note from a manager on an employee’s work anniversary, monthly awards for team members, and the like). These formal practices can certainly help, but sometimes they can be interpreted as forced or fabricated, and they do not create a culture of personalized gratitude. Rather, authentic appreciation includes consistent, timely, and personalized feedback—between leaders and their direct reports and among employees themselves.
Of course, maintaining culture can be more challenging in a work-from-home setting with remote team members. In this case, leaders must utilize consistent tactics to ensure each employee and team as a whole feels sincerely and authentically appreciated. Here are my top tactics to help every person on the team feel appreciated consistently: