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Everyone likes to be appreciated; to feel that someone notices their efforts and is actually glad that they exist. Regardless of whether you are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, a simple “thank you” from your supervisor or co-worker can literally make your day.

Unfortunately, within the workplace, the idea of appreciation is usually lost among metrics and targets. Sure, there’s the overdone “Employee of the Month” award, the drawing for local sports team tickets, certificates of excellence, and the annual Holiday party.

Those are all nice “Ata boy” (or girl) gestures, but are they really building and changing the culture of your workplace?

Probably not.

Here are four ways that you can create and cultivate a culture of appreciation in your workplace:

  1. Be Verbal-Remember when you were a kid and going to someone else’s house for dinner or a visit and your parents would say, “Remember to say please and thank you”? Those good manners that they were trying to drill into you can have a huge impact in your workplace.

Instead of barking orders at people, ask them to do a task. It elevates them in your mind to a person of preferred status. In some cultures, asking for something from them actually puts them in a position above you.

Remember to say please and thank you. It shows you respect the person enough to use your good manners on them.


Thank them for their work at the end of the day. I try to make a point to thank everyone in my division at the end of every day for their work that day.

Yes, it’s their job.

Yes, they are getting paid to do it.

But that’s beside the point.  By thanking them for their work that day, you are expressing that their contribution has value to you and the company. And when people feel valued, they feel appreciated.  When they feel appreciated, they want to contribute and engage more in the work they are doing.

  1. Be Spontaneous-One summer, when my kids were young, I instituted a way for them to make some extra money. If they saw something that needed to be done that wasn’t on their list, they got an extra dollar. This helped them look for opportunities to capitalize on.

The same principle applies in cultivating a culture of appreciation. When you or a supervisor catch someone doing something good-above and beyond, give them a spontaneous token of appreciation. It may be something as simple as keeping some restaurant gift cards or $50 bills on hand to give out on the spur of the moment. Acknowledging an employee for doing the right thing, or going above and beyond for a customer, the company, or even another employee is important and should never go unnoticed.

Another way to be spontaneous is letting people go home early. People enjoy being able to leave work early, especially on a Friday afternoon. And let’s face it; they’re already gone mentally at 4 pm on Friday anyway. If possible within your organization, make an announcement like, “We’ve all worked hard enough this week, let’s call it a day and all go home early.” Even if you stay to close up, and finish things on your end, your employees will feel like you recognize the efforts they put in for the week.

If a monetary token isn’t a financial option, refer to tip #1 and verbalize your appreciation for their behavior to them and make sure others hear you praising them as well.

  1. Be Genuine-There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are being patronized. People can tell when you’re faking it. So be genuine. Increased productivity cannot be the sole reason for building a culture of appreciation. Your motivation for showing appreciation should come from a desire to be a decent human being to other human beings in your workplace.

If you can’t find a reason to appreciate anyone in your workplace, then it’s time to check your own attitude and see if you are the reason for toxicity within your culture.

If your personality lends itself more to an Eeyore attitude than Winnie the Pooh, it’s your responsibility to change your attitude. It’s easy to become bitter and cynical; it takes effort to be positive.

[Tweet “Any dead fish can float downstream. It requires effort to build people up.”]

One way you can be genuine is by asking about their lives, their families, and their time away from work. Showing interest in your coworkers can give you insight into them and ways to show your appreciation of them in a genuine way.

  1. Be Consistent-Nothing can ruin a company quicker than a toxic work environment. Negativity breeds more negativity. And changing that kind of culture can take time. If you put a bunch of crabs into a bucket and one of them tries to climb out, the other crabs will reach up and try to pull that crab back down with them.

One week of showing appreciation towards others will not radically alter your workplace culture. You will experience push back. There will be crabs who try to bring everyone back down. But over time, with consistency, you will see a difference.

Whatever behavior you model will come back around. If you are the only one showing appreciation to others, keep it up, eventually you will see others mimic your behavior. Don’t give up, it will be worth the effort in the end.

Take stock of your workplace environment today. Is there a culture of appreciation?

If so, what difference has it made?

What other tips have you used to build your culture of appreciation?

If not, which of these tips can you put into practice to affect a change for the better?

Are you willing to be the catalyst for that change in your workplace culture?

Share your stories so we can all benefit.

    Tenaya (T.J.) Tison is a business leader and entrepreneur who is passionate about propelling others in their work & faith potential, by strategically directing them in business + work; and in full-faith living. Find out what T.J. does here. Follow T.J. on Twitter. Invite TJ to speak.

(A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn)