Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

6 tips to make your colleagues feel appreciated

Celebrate your co-workers on Staff Appreciation Day – and throughout the year

Showing appreciation for others is easier said than done.

So say Sheryl Hansen and Josh Boyd with NAIT’s organizational development office and experts in developing employee recognition strategies. Their efforts help make appreciating co-workers second nature to staff.

Most people want those around them to feel appreciated and valued but often don’t know how. Because of this, Hansen says, they end up doing nothing.

“Don’t let your discomfort get in the way,” she advises.

Sincere appreciation can be a powerful tool that not only goes a long way to keeping employees happy and engaged, but it can also keep them employed with you. Evidence shows that not feeling appreciated is one of the top reasons a person quits his or her job.

Showing appreciation can be as simple as telling a co-worker what you like about them, bringing them a favourite treat or spending quality time together. When done appropriately, appreciation is valued by employees in every role and setting. Hansen and Boyd offer six tips on how to get appreciation right.

1. Appreciation ≠ recognition

When you recognize someone, you are giving a nod to what he or she has accomplished. Appreciation, in conrtrast, is about acknowledging someone for who they are.

“It’s about what they bring to their job,” Hansen says. Examples include their energy, their approach to their work, their enthusiasm or their passion. “When they’re not there, it’s what you miss.”

2. It's everyone’s job

People may think appreciation must come from leaders or be a result of an HR initiative. But Hansen says peer-to-peer acknowledgement is just as valuable, if not more.

If you don’t feel appreciated by those you work closely with everyday, “it feels like you’re just giving but not getting anything in return,” she says.

3. Be personal

If you paint everyone with the same brush, your efforts to show appreciation may fall flat, Boyd says.

That’s why it’s important to build and nurture strong relationships at work, taking the time to get to know the people around you. In the end, the appreciation is sincere, because you understand them and genuinely appreciate who they are.

4. Show it one-on-one

While recognition can be done publicly, appreciation is best left for private situations. It may be ok to express your appreciation for an entire group of people, but avoid singling out individuals in public

Rather, Hansen and Boyd recommend showing appreciation for someone in a private setting, through a conversation, note or a simple gesture.

5. Be timely

Immediately showing appreciation feels more genuine and is more meaningful to the person on the receiving end. “The longer you go without doing anything, the more it has the potential to lose impact,” Boyd says.

6. Show it with regularity

As you feel more comfortable expressing appreciation, the more top-of-mind it becomes. It can be informal and doesn’t require any elaborate planning, nor does it need to cost anything.

Once you start showing appreciation frequently, it becomes easier and will come naturally.

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