Global studies demonstrate the importance of employee appreciation
WORK, BY DEFINITION, IS DIFFICULT. As anyone who has provided chiropractic services for even a short time knows, working together to serve patients has unique challenges and stressors. This stress can deteriorate staff morale over time, both for individual team members and the staff as a whole.
Retaining quality employees (whether full-time, part-time or contract) is essential to the health of a chiropractic practice, and staff turnover is one of the most non-productive business expenses. The loss of productivity, relational damage with clients, negative impact on staff morale, and additional training time all create significant costs for employers.
Retain your talent
Good employees are not easy to find, develop or keep. Anyone who has lost a key team member (especially unexpectedly) and tried to find a replacement knows this. Finding a person with the training and experience needed to do the job and someone who has the desired character qualities is difficult.
As the leader of the practice, you risk misunderstanding what your team members want. Many owners and managers believe their employees are motivated primarily by financial gain. Research studies for decades have debunked this belief.1 Yes, people want to earn more money, but for the vast majority of employees, when they voluntarily leave a company, they don’t leave for more money. The MIT Sloan School of Business recently found that not feeling appreciated was three times more predictive of employees leaving than compensation factors.2 In another study, 79% of employees reported the primary reason they left their job is because they didn’t feel appreciated.3
Additionally, in a global study of 200,000 employees,4 the Boston Consulting Group found the number one factor employees related to enjoying their job was they felt appreciated (financial compensation didn’t show up until number eight).
Many leaders think they are doing OK in this area and their employees know they appreciate them but this may not be the case. In a national Globoforce employee recognition survey across numerous companies, 51% of managers think they do a pretty good job of recognizing employees for work well-done.5 However, only 17% of the employees who worked for those managers felt the manager did an adequate job of recognizing them for doing a good job.
Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. Communicating authentic appreciation is different than using a “going through the motions” approach to employee recognition.
We have found the following:
- Employees want to feel valued and appreciated.
- Most employees don’t feel appreciated.
- A majority of leaders and managers either:
- a) don’t care how their employees feel;
b) think they are doing an adequate job of communicating appreciation; or
c) don’t know what else to do (beyond what they’ve been doing).
How appreciation impacts the financial health of a practice
Ultimately, running a practice is about serving your patients well and making a profit doing so. As a result, many practitioners think, “I want people to enjoy their work, but I’m not a cheerleader. We’ve got work to get done.” True.
But consider this. We know when team members (regardless of their level in the organization) truly feel valued and appreciated, good things happen.
Conversely, when staff don’t feel valued:
- Tardiness increases
- People call in sick more often
- Productivity decreases
- Policies and procedures are not followed regularly
- More conflict occurs over petty issues
- People become more irritable
- Patient complaints increase
- Turnover increases (which is the number-one nonproductive cost to companies)
The importance of your staff feeling appreciated becomes obvious.
Employee recognition isn’t the same as authentic appreciation
While virtually all companies have some form of employee recognition program, employee engagement and job satisfaction ratings continue to decline.6 Why? Because employee recognition can be effective at rewarding performance, but it does a poor job of helping employees feel valued as individuals.
Most employee recognition programs are either designed in a generic way, e.g., everyone gets the same certificate and gift card; group-based (a lot of introverts hate going up in front a group); focus solely on high performers (leaving out the majority of employees); or are viewed as inauthentic (“It’s the back office’s turn to get the award this month”).
A key concept to understand is not everyone feels appreciated in the same way. Not everyone values a verbal compliment. From our work with more than 375,000 employees1 who have taken our online assessment, less than 50% choose words of affirmation as their primary appreciation language. Some people feel valued when you spend some individual time with them. Others appreciate working together on tasks or getting some practical help. In fact, we’ve identified five languages of appreciation8 important in the workplace.
Keys for communicating authentic appreciation
In working with employees from thousands of companies and organizations across the world, we’ve found four key factors necessary for employees to truly feel valued. Our research shows9 when groups apply the concept of authentic appreciation, team members report a significant increase in feeling more appreciated.
Employees will feel truly valued when appreciation is:
- Communicated regularly (not just once or twice a year at a performance review)
- Shared in the appreciation language and actions most important to the recipient (not what makes you feel appreciated)
- Delivered individually and personally (not as a group “blast email” and not through your administrative assistant)
- Perceived as authentic (not just “going through the motions”)
Your employees are your practice’s most valuable asset (try accomplishing the tasks at hand without them). Finding quality team members has become a limiting factor to growing one’s practice. To be successful, you need to make sure you know how to communicate appreciation in meaningful ways to each of your employees. If you don’t, they won’t perform as well, and you will eventually lose key team members. That is a headache you don’t want and can avoid.
PAUL WHITE, PHD, is a psychologist, speaker and leadership expert who “makes work relationships work.” He has been interviewed by the New York Times, BBC News and other international publications. He is the coauthor of the bestselling book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” which has sold more than 550,000 copies (with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages”). For more information, go to appreciationatwork.com.
1 Branham, L. (2005). “The 7 hidden reasons employees leave: how to recognize the subtle signs and act before it’s too late.” New York: AMACOM, 3.
2 Sull, D., Sull, C., Cipolli, W. and Brighenti, C. (2022). “Why every leader needs to worry about toxic culture.” https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/why-every-leader-needs-to-worry-about-toxic-culture/.
3 Op cit 1.
4 Strack, R. (2014). “Decoding digital talent: 200,000 survey responses on global mobility and employment preferences.” Boston Consulting Group. https://bcg.com/en-us/publications/2014/people-organization-human-resources-decoding-global-talent.aspx.
5 SHRM/Globoforce (2012). “SHRM/globoforce employee recognition survey.” Fall 2012. https://www.globoforce.com/rs/globoforce/images/SHRMFALL.2012Survey_web.pdf.
6 Gallup (2023). “State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report.” https://www.gallup.com/workplace.
7 White, P. “Differences in preferences for appreciation across various work settings.” Strategic HR Review, 2023;22(1):17-21. https://doi.org/10-1108/SHR-11-2022-0061.
8 White, P. & Chapman, G. (2019). “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Chicago: Northfield Publishing.
9 White, P. “Appreciation at work training and the motivating by appreciation inventory: development and validity.” Strategic HR Review, 2016;15(1):20-24. https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SHR-11-2015-0090.