Employee Appreciation Day started in the US as a way for companies to show their employees that their work is valued. It has since been extended to other parts of the world.
Employee appreciation is not just a token of thanks towards employee contribution, rather it involves a genuine acknowledgment of effort and dedication employees put into their jobs everyday and the impact this has on overarching organisational goals.
Creating a culture of sustained and consistent appreciation goes a long way towards positively impacting employee wellness and mental health as directing influencing employee recognition – an important aspect of employee wellbeing. This can have a significant impact on workplace culture, employee morale, motivation and loyalty at the workplace.
However, as employers and workplace leaders we need to look beyond the basic into nuances of appreciation.
Who do we find it easier to appreciate at work?
What values or aspects of employees are we appreciating?
If we look closer at this we may find certain biases present :
- Proximity bias, those who we tend to be in close proximity with are easier to appreciate because the proximity allows for a deeper bond to develop.
- Affinity bias , those who we share a lot in common with or have affinity with tend to be easier to spot when it comes to valuing and even noticing their accomplishments
- Gender bias, certain genders having more privilege by virtue of their gender roles in a patriarchal society – like men tend to be valued more, especially when they are performing visibly – staying back late, being available and being confident. However, we need to keep in mind that these same traits that value commitment may not be the same across the gender spectrum. Commitment may look different in the efforts of other employees, and those efforts may not be as easily visible. Gender bias may also show up in the way that we make sense of certain behaviours – for example with men, taking charge is seen as getting things done and as the mark of a leader. But often in women it’s seen as being bossy and dominating and has a negative impact to their image at work.
Studies also show that during appraisals, men usually get feedback on their work i.e more actionable feedback, and feedback to women tends to be less actionable, more vague and contradictory and focused on behaviour. This clear bias can creep into our ability to notice and respond to contribution, effort and commitment made by the women employees at work.
Keeping this in mind, lets strive to ensure the employee appreciation in our workspaces grows beyond a day or a management mandate, in the true spirit of empowerment across the workforce.