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Don’t forget the cupcakes! 

March 3rd is Employee Appreciation Day.

It’s said that sharing gratitude for what others have done is good for everyone’s wellbeing. It fosters more positive emotion and happiness, improves your mood, sleep and immunity and lowers your risk for depression.

You feel better. The other person feels better too

Utopia beckons.

Well maybe, maybe not, but feeling appreciated is knowing you are valued for who you are and what you do. As discussed in an earlier blog on mattering, this is tied into your sense of significance.

This matters because we have all probably worked for THAT boss who never said thank you or showed even a glimmer of interest in the hard work you did. Even if you were fortunate enough to move to greener appreciative pastures, that memory will still rankle.

But what gets in the way of showing more appreciation, isn’t malevolence or malice or nasty bosses, it’s something far more insidious and pervasive. 

As humans we wander about in our own little bubble of busyness and let’s be honest, self-interest, so unless we take the time to come up for air to notice what else is happening around us, we simply fail to see the good being done or to acknowledge it.

We have evolved to only pay attention to those things that are interesting and relevant to our survival.

Which is why we end up having a day as a reminder, that it’s not all about us.

We yearn to feel appreciated by our employer, boss, or manager and also by our co-workers.

When did you last get a pat on the back? Was it:

  • Yesterday
  • Last week
  • Several months ago
  • So long ago you can’t remember
  • It’s never happened

Feeling appreciated is more than a feel-good fest. It’s also about,


Knowing someone cares

Research by Qantumworkplace.com found that ‘recognition and appreciation’ is one of the top drivers of employee engagement by a factor of x2.7.

The global pandemic has been a gamechanger highlighting the need for “strengthening employees mental and emotional connection to work.”

But if your boss is doing a Rhett Butler “I don’t give a damn!” they may be facing a stampede towards the nearest exit.

A positive workplace culture is founded on care. Self-care and caring about each other.


Seeing the reward

Beyond cupcakes, and cheesy employee of the month pictures adorning the office walls, getting the reward right matters too.

What would mean the most to you?

Would you rather receive,

  • A free pizza voucher as a thank you for all the extra hours of overtime you put in to meet a recent deadline.
  • A cash bonus (equivalent in value to the free pizza)
  • A personalised “well done!” text from your supervisor/manager/boss

This was the question posed by Dan Ariely, behavioural economist and author of Payoff.

What he found was pizza is a big motivator, especially initially, but then the text message caught up in popularity. Probably because everyone was sick of pizza.

What didn’t work was the cash incentive. In fact, it drove productivity down by 6.5%.

Was the incremental bonus too low or did it reflect that kindness is valued more highly than money?

According to Gallup, the number one reason people quit their jobs is a lack of recognition which explains why those organisations with recognition programs in place have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates. Similarly, recognising those employee behaviours that are desirable, like doing quality work, taking on new tasks and showing drive and initiative can lower workplace frustration by 28.6%. That sounds like a good way to create a great place to work.


What workplace recognition and appreciation can include and look like

  1. Showing appreciation for exceptional work either in private or in public
  2. Acknowledgement of a positive work attitude and collaborative approach 
  3. Celebrating success and goal achievement
  4. Regular and timely employee recognition days

If it’s been a while since you enjoyed a cupcake of appreciation, how could your workplace improve its recognition program?

Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase

If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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