In my previous post, I talked about belonging, the sense of purpose derived from feeling connected to something bigger, and why belonging is not only good for employees but for businesses too.
Our psychological need to belong goes hand in hand with a need for appreciation. As we contribute value to the whole, we want to be recognized for it. We need those around us to validate our ideas, achievements, or opinions. In other words, we want to know what we do matters.
William James, who is often referred to as the father of American psychology, said that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
Genuine appreciation lifts people up and gives us a sense of security and energy. Moreover, gratitude and recognition activate “gratitude” circuits in our brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin - the neuro-chemicals linked to intrinsic motivation in goal accomplishment and better mood.
And how does feeling appreciated translate into performance at work?
A 2013 survey of 12,115 workers worldwide organized by The Energy Project and the Harvard Business Review found that employees who have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.
Moreover, employees who derive meaning and significance from their work reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and were 1.4 times more engaged at work.
Research by Emily Heaphy and Marcial Losada indicates that the highest-performing teams boast a 5.6 ratio of positive comments, i.e., nearly six positive comments for every negative one. But the average for the low-performing teams was 0.36 to 1, with almost three negative comments for every positive one.
These findings conclude that appreciation and acknowledgment are part of the secret sauce for building strong, thriving teams. However, it’s important not to confuse this with empty praise that you often see with corporate rewards programs. Appreciation and acknowledgment can be as simple as a two-sentence email acknowledging someone’s efforts on a specific task and sharing the positive impact. You’d be surprised how much that acknowledgement means to someone, especially those working remotely or those less visible in the organization.
How is appreciation promoted in your organization?