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The True Meaning of Employee Appreciation in In-Person and Hybrid Environments

If employee appreciation causes me anxiety, I don’t want it.

After 1,000 days of an injury-free environment, employees receive a company branded T-shirt. As a reward for a big win, employees are given a grill out with executives they’ve rarely interacted with. And to champion the new marketing push for “synergy” or “power of one,” employees receive “customized” thermal mugs. All of this is nice and fun, but it lacks the heart of employee appreciation. All of the above examples are generic “one-offs,” but employee appreciation ought to be ongoing, genuine, and personal.

Are you appreciating your employees well? Ask yourself these questions!

How did your employees reach the goals you are “appreciating”?

When showing appreciation, if leaders focus more on the success of their employees rather than the success of the company, they will find that employees feel seen and valued. What exactly are employees doing well? How did they meet that goal? What stands out in their performance? Be personal and specific when celebrating wins, and make it employee-focused.

What do my employees appreciate? What does appreciation mean to them?

If employees want flexible work options and are given a pizza party instead, it’s likely that they aren’t feeling too appreciated. In the same way, company mugs are no replacement for a salary raise, and the well-intended gesture might go over poorly. It’s important to ask employees what appreciation means to them. Respecting how employees feel appreciated and acting accordingly is one of the best ways to show employees that they are valued.

Can employees’ performance be optimized?

Sometimes appreciation means putting the employees’ needs first. Leaders ought to ask themselves, “How am I not setting my team up for success? What can I do better?” When a leader constantly desires to serve employees, such as by offering more flexible work options, employees automatically feel more appreciated and valued. And optimizing employees’ opportunity for improved performance is a win-win; it makes employees feel appreciated while simultaneously increasing company success.

We Optimize Work is a boutique organizational management consulting firm that partners with leaders to create processes that increase engagement, performance and satisfaction for teams in hybrid work environments. Let’s connect! Email Domonique Townsend at



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