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The Twin Pillars of Employee Engagement: Appreciation and Recognition

The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful. Yet expressing gratitude is one of the least-utilized skills in the leadership toolbox.

A ten-year, groundbreaking study of 200,000 managers and employees by O.C. Tanner Learning group revealed two startling statistics:

  1. 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving.
  2. 65% of North Americans report that they were not recognized even once by their leaders or supervisors during the last year.

It is little wonder that The Society of Human Resource Management Association (SHRM) says that only 38% of employees feel very satisfied with their current jobs.

One of my pet rules of leadership is: recognize effort, reward results

Employee Engagement | Leadership Tips

It is very important to recognize, and to show appreciation for, the efforts being made by team members. Too many leaders and managers only acknowledge and express appreciation for outcomes and results. This is a mistake.

No successful sports coach waits until a game is over before telling players their efforts are on track and benefitting the team. Instead, sports coaches yell out encouragement and accolades throughout the game for hustle, smart decisions, and effort. These are not given just when points are scored or when the other team is prevented from scoring.

The same needs to happen in the workplace. Leaders who express gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of team members create a workplace climate where employee engagement is higher, as compared to those leaders who only acknowledge final results and outcomes.

Research cited in numerous books and articles clearly shows that recognition and appreciation are the two things that employees say their bosses could do better that would motivate them to produce better work.


This article is excerpted from my book Great Leadership Words of Wisdom, which is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats and has over 1000 quotes on leadership from global business leaders, statesmen, athletes, coaches, sages, and philosophers.


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