I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want appreciation at work! C’mon – even if our main driver is to do meaningful work, some appreciation is …well, appreciated.

Recognition at work

You won’t be surprised to read that there is a ton of research (yes, they weigh research, haha) that shows that employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity increase when managers/supervisors/etc provide frequent positive feedback and encouragement.

But, did you know that as many as 40-79% of employees cite “lack of appreciation” as a source of dissatisfaction or as a reason for leaving their job? That, to me, is heartbreaking because it is so preventable.

Most of us want to be recognized for our contributions. Not just by our managers, department heads, supervisors etc, but also by our colleagues and clients.  And though verbal recognition and feedback are important, so are other forms of recognition. Because maybe frequent verbal recognition means a lot to Afra, but not much to Shin-Cho.  In my case, being granted flexibility and autonomy over my work is infinitely more important than being verbally recognized (but, I also love a compliment!).

Reframe recognition: Think appreciation

With respect to recognition, perhaps it is time to reframe it as appreciation–as Dr. Paul White nicely describes in his post “Why we should stop ‘recognizing’ employees and start appreciating them.”

Which brings me to other work by Dr. White (and co-author Gary Chapman): The Languages of Appreciation at Work.  These languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Tangible gifts
  5. Physical Touch  (see here for brief summary of each language)

I read Languages of Appreciation at Work a few years back and found it valuable. The key ideas that have stayed with me are:

  1. identify how you like to be appreciated at work (and let people know!)
  2. be curious about/learn and observe how your colleagues want to be appreciated and appreciate them that way (i.e., don’t foist your own preferences on them) and
  3. show appreciation!

How can I “do” more appreciation?

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to “do” appreciation, here are some resources:

Your turn

  • How do you need and like to be appreciated at work?  (here are some ideas to consider — make your own list if you feel inspired)
  • Do your colleagues/manager/department head/program chair/other relevant persons know how you need to be appreciated? If not, how can you inform them?
  • How do your close colleagues like to be appreciated? Not sure? Find out!

Photo from Pexels (thank you wewe)


If you’re feeling unappreciated and unrecognized at work and this is bringing you down, let’s chat about how coaching support can help. A lot of my coaching clients have experienced this at some point in their career, and have been able to turn things around through coaching.

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