I’ve been thinking about this topic lately after a friend posted an update to her Facebook page. She’d been agonizing about whether she should keep working for her employer of almost 2 decades, or quit and stay at home with her children full time. She finally made the decision to leave work and felt genuine remorse over it because her employment had been a large part of her identity for so long. in addition to the loyalty she felt to her employer. However that changed with this status post:
“So, I left work today after 17 years, finished my last shift. But there was no party or people wishing me well. I sure do not feel appreciated or feel like anyone wanted to recognize all the hard work I have put in over the years. I know my family will appreciate me being home full time. Off to my new adventure.”
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I saw posts from her that talked about her work. She was a driven, hard-working, faithful employee that gave as close to 100% as she could in not only her professional life, but her personal one as well. This left me wondering how it could be that she held no value in the eyes of her employer when she finally terminated her employment?
She’s not alone. In a survey published in March 2012, “half of U.S. employees feel undervalued at their workplace and intend to search for a new job over the coming year.” I believe this discontent correlates with the fact that 52% of respondents felt their employer failed in recognition practices. I suggest this failure comes from two types of employers: those who don’t know how show proper thanks, and those who don’t care to.
There’s not much we can do about the attitude of the latter employer except to point out that when the survey’s respondents did feel valued, “93% said that they are motivated to do their very best for their employer”. However for those employers who just haven’t found the right recognition program to inspire their employees, this Forbes article has 5 good points you may want to consider:
- Recognize employees for actions and specific instances (not tenure)
- Allow employees to submit recommendations for fellow co-workers
- Share the examples of excellence with all of the employees
- Have a system in place that makes sharing stories/nominations simple
- Make your company’s mission and culture be supportive of recognition programs
We all like to hear “Thank You” now and then and in fact research is proving organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far out perform those that don’t. But despite these findings, there will always be employers, perhaps managers themselves, who don’t feel appreciated and thus aren’t able to communicate gratitude to their employees. And good employees like my friend, will walk away, in most cases to look for work and appreciation elsewhere.