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The Power of Acknowledgement

When was the last time you felt acknowledged for the work you do?

Acknowledgement can mean the difference between an employee who is engaged and motivated and an employee who is disengaged and generally unhappy.

According to a 2017 workplace survey by Gallup, just 1/3 of U.S. employees are engaged in their work, and only about 1 in 5 say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

While acknowledgement on its own can’t solve all of the issues surrounding performance management, it can have a significant impact on employee morale and workplace satisfaction. According to Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and author of Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, “When we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation.”

A 2013 Globoforce study of over 23,000 workers in more than 45 countries and territories found that, “when senior leadership ensures that employees feel appreciated and valued for their performance, work can become more meaningful, particularly where recognition is aligned to core values.”

Acknowledgement, when delivered authentically, lets people know that they are seen and valued. When people feel valued, they are more engaged and productive. The byproduct is an increase in morale.

When delivering an acknowledgement, it is about more than just saying “Thank you.” It is about noticing the way someone approaches the work they are doing, or the actual deliverable, and then commenting on it. Some examples of acknowledgements are:

“You pay attention to the details.”

“You do an excellent job at managing deadlines.”

“You have a great way of dealing with difficult clients.”

“You are excellent at leveraging the talents of your team.”

... you get the idea.

What kinds of acknowledgements could you share with your coworkers, employees, or your family members? I encourage you to experiment with acknowledgements and take note of the impact they have. You may just be pleasantly surprised.