The value of appreciating your people

Poor workplace wellbeing is costing companies billions

In 2024, companies place a high priority on attracting and retaining talent. But employee wellbeing is at an all-time low – and it’s costing money. Poor wellbeing and employee burnout is estimated to cost a staggering $322 billion of turnover and lost productivity cost globally

Why wellbeing is important

In our recent Economic Value Study, we asked 300 global businesses to share key metrics relating to workforce engagement and benchmarked the results against how they reported performance. 

The data was clear: a strong correlation exists between higher engagement and higher performance. However, we also discovered that only 41% of HR or People Team’s top priorities is employee wellbeing, with employee retention the highest at 76%.

Promoting wellbeing at work is crucial for keeping employees engaged and effective, and ultimately keeping them. But employers shouldn’t expect well-being to come from only focusing on people’s basic needs, like salary or perks. 

The key to workplace wellbeing is appreciation

Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we all have a hierarchy of physical, emotional and psychological needs at work, from job security and financial stability to the respect of our peers. At the top of this hierarchy is appreciation – meaningfully meeting people’s self actualization needs and demonstrating that they are valued as individuals.

Recognizing all of a person’s needs – whether they’re physical, emotional or mental – and acknowledging their worth on a personal level is a key part of promoting wellbeing at work. It makes praise feel more meaningful, and tells people that their employer understands who they are, not just what they do for the company.

Even if it sounds a bit abstract, the impact of appreciating people shouldn’t be underestimated, because…

Appreciation has a tangible impact on people

According to HAAS Business School research, recognition boosts effectiveness by 23%, while appreciation and valuing individuals increases productivity by 43%

Employees feel kinder, more resilient, and more mentally prepared – and there’s a physiological reason for this. Appreciation causes a chemical response in our bodies that reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases positive neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. 

This chemical response gives people the confidence to be themselves at work, and to feel braver and bolder about what they can achieve. 

And not only does this encourage them to reach their full potential, it also helps others achieve more too. 

Small acts of appreciation have a knock-on effect 

In the workplace, people take subtle social cues from each other, meaning that poor mental wellbeing can make a whole team or department less energized. But the opposite is also true: wellbeing spreads exponentially from person to person, so when somebody feels truly appreciated, it has a positive effect on everyone they work with.

Appreciation makes people more empathetic, more collaborative and more likely to improve a colleague’s sense of wellbeing by working with them. That’s why small acts can ripple out and create a more effective working culture across a whole business. In other words, appreciation appreciates.

How can you make everyone feel appreciated at the same time?

When work is so integral to, well, work, how can companies move their focus away from their employees’ results and towards their wellbeing? And how can something as personal as appreciation work effectively for everyone within a company?

At Reward Gateway | Edenred, we help companies communicate transparently, offer relevant rewards, and make it all feel personal. We offer a combination of employee experience tools for meeting employees’ hierarchy of needs, from market-leading employee wellbeing and discounts to reward and recognition and internal communications.

Because our intuitive platform allows businesses to care for the whole person beyond the context of their job role, we’re able to foster an environment in which people feel they can be themselves at work, and are proud to be part of the company.

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