According to Gallup News State of the Workforce report in 2017, overall only 30% of employees feel engaged at their jobs. This dismal statistic is a strong invitation for employers in all business sectors to consider the type of work culture that might contribute to a sense of disaffection and actively work to change it. Employees who do feel a sense of connection are much more motivated and productive. Not only that, they serve as positive brand ambassadors for the business.
Most people say they don’t want elaborate gestures of recognition by managers and co-workers, but that genuine appreciation in the form of a simple ‘thank you’ is quite enough. It doesn’t cost anyone money to say ‘thanks’ but the payoff for doing so is a motivated and productive staff. Workplaces that have cultivated a culture of appreciation understand that it must be applied consistently and intentionally.
“Noticing when people do something right can be hard to do if you feel like all you are doing is fixing problems. It’s important to also notice what is going well and say specific thanks for that,” said Sarah Dahl, human resources systems and support consultant. “People want to know their efforts are noticed. A thank you is free, fast, and super effective. ”
From Dahl’s perspective, not noticing good work or thanking people for taking on tough jobs contributes to an atmosphere of underappreciation, which leads to a lack of workplace engagement. “We see it in the CDS Consulting Co-op employee surveys we do. People want recognition and appreciation. ” She pointed out that retail jobs can be physically and emotionally demanding. Paying attention to staff efforts and acknowledging when things are challenging goes a long way toward people feeling incentivized to give their best.
It’s common sense that if people don’t feel like what they do matters they won’t go out of their way to perform well. Although it should be easy to say thanks regularly, making it happen consistently is where challenges arise. Dahl said that like everything operations-related it’s important to take a systems approach. Instituting a positive workplace culture requires intention.
Additionally, generously sharing thanks and feedback demonstrate that the workplace is invested in its employees. Fostering a teamwork environment can help develop the all-important level of trust and clear expectations that also pave the way to a culture of appreciation.
And then there’s rewarding people, whether it is a simple thank you or a public acknowledgement, even a gift card. “A lot of co-ops have found ways to recognize people, but there are some things to keep in mind about doing it effectively: Be sure it’s specific, timely and public. ”
Dahl also pointed out that in this hyper-competitive grocery retail atmosphere, coupled with a desire to pay living wage, most workplaces need employees to be more productive. “Providing recognition and appreciation encourages people. ” But without holding all staff accountable to expectations only leads people to feel taken advantage of. Often a cooperative is strong in either appreciation or accountability. It’s important to strike a balance.
“Any cultural change requires the input of everyone, but particularly management and human resources,” Dahl said. She said that someone must manage the co-op’s ability to thank and recognize people as part of their service to employees. “To create a culture of appreciation, it should be the daily job of managers to notice things and be accountable for creating this culture. Management sets the tone. ”
Rebecca Torpie, marketing and member engagement consultant, also stressed the need for consistency in communicating appreciation to build gratitude into everyday operations. “It’s important to express appreciation via all communication platforms, written and verbal, most especially through the staff newsletter, staff meetings and leadership teams. ”
Torpie said that the “story of appreciation” is directly transmitted through exceptional customer service by a satisfied staff. A staff that feels appreciated and empowered helps create a culture of appreciation for shoppers, whose great experiences in the store help build strong sales. “Through your employees you can develop a culture of delighting your customers. ”
Torpie thinks that one barrier to a culture of appreciation is fear of being taken advantage of, or experiencing some kind of loss from too much generosity. “A famine mindset could make you closed off from your customers and community. You must look at the role of the spirit of generosity over the long term. That’s how you will gain much greater loyalty from customers. ”
“Ask yourself and others, what would delight you? What would make you happy? It’s important to take that risk and go for it. The positive economic and human connections it creates will help the co-op continue to grow. ”
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