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5 signs you're appreciated at work (and what do if you're not)

Studies show that employees who feel valued and appreciated can be up to 50 percent more productive (and happier).
Image: Smiling businesswoman in meeting conference room
Verbal praise is one of the simplest and most effective forms of appreciation.Hero Images / Getty Images

If you feel underappreciated, it might weigh on your mind from time to time, but the effects of feeling underappreciated extend far beyond a temporary moment of disappointment. Studies show that employees who feel appreciated and are shown signs of gratitude can be up to 50 percent more productive. On top of that, appreciated employees have higher morale and satisfaction, leading to lower rates of turnover.

If you’re not appreciated at work, you’ll get less work done, you’ll be unhappy and your entire environment may become less conducive to collaboration and productivity. So how can you tell if you’re not being appreciated, and what can you do if it’s affecting your performance?

Signs of Appreciation

Appreciation doesn’t need to be grandiose or lucrative; even a simple message can be enough to make someone feel appreciated, at least temporarily. The following signs of appreciation are general indicators that you work in a positive workplace:

  • Verbal praise. Verbal praise is one of the simplest and most effective forms of appreciation. It costs nothing, can be given in a matter of seconds, and can easily make someone’s day. A simple comment like “excellent work on that project,” at least a few times a week, is usually enough to make employees feel appreciated. If you aren’t getting any at all, it’s a problem.
  • Raises and promotions. As a complement to the verbal praise, your company should be doling out at least occasional raises and promotions. These don’t need to be constant, and don’t need to be extensive, but even a small raise as a reward for a job well done can give employees the positive feedback they need to maintain their productivity.
  • Employee appreciation events. Employee appreciation days are also effective ways to show employees they’re valued. Again, these don’t need to be expensive or grandiose; something as simple as a lunch party in the middle of a Friday can be enough to make people feel good. This is doubly effective if used as a reward or response to a specific achievement; for example, if the team achieves a group goal, this could serve as a way to give them feedback.
  • Feedback. Speaking of feedback, formal feedback is another way to let employees know they’re appreciated. Strangely enough, even negative or critical feedback — telling employees they need to improve or have missed their goals — can be an effective tool to making them feel more integrated with the group.
  • Peer commentary. Finally, as a branch of verbal feedback, mutual employee commentary can be constructive to an environment of appreciation. Showing support for your fellow employees with words of kindness, sympathy, or even acknowledgment can make people feel like an engaged part of the community.

4 Things You Can Do If You Feel Underappreciated On the Job

Do you feel underappreciated? It might seem like a helpless situation, since appreciation comes from other people. However, there are some key strategies you can use to make yourself more appreciated in the workplace:

  • Talk to coworkers more openly. Be more open in talking to your coworkers and colleagues; give them feedback on their work, support them when you collaborate, and make them feel appreciated. These actions are usually reciprocated—plus, there’s a psychological benefit in giving thanks to the people around you.
  • Request more feedback. If you aren’t getting the feedback or appreciation you feel you deserve, consider requesting more feedback directly—as a form of feedback of your own. Tell your supervisors and bosses you’d like to receive more frequent, critical feedback on your performance, and thank them when they give you the opportunity.
  • Prove your worth. If you want to receive extraordinary feedback, consider accomplishing more extraordinary feats. For example, you could take on new projects outside your usual realm of responsibilities, or put in extra hours to demonstrate your full potential.
  • Consider finding a new environment. If you aren’t receiving the benefits of an environment of mutual appreciation, consider moving to an environment where you can. For some, that means moving to a different department; for others, that means moving to a different job entirely. Do what you can in your current environment before you abandon ship.

Employee appreciation isn’t especially common, but it’s incredibly valuable for any work environment. Working with your coworkers and supervisors, it’s possible to create a more robust, appreciative environment— and one where both you and your colleagues can be happier and more productive.

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