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How to Foster a Culture of Appreciation

Building a culture of appreciation and engagement is more important now than ever before. And while showing love is certainly on our brains this Valentine’s Day, we’ve been thinking about this topic for a while.


By ActivTrak

How to Foster a Culture of Appreciation

Building a culture of appreciation and engagement is more important now than ever before. And while showing love is certainly on our brains this Valentine’s Day, we’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Back in November, we posted 5 ways to appreciate your team, and given the continuing employment climate, we wanted to dive a little deeper.

In November 2021, a record 4.5 million workers in the U.S. left their jobs. Many of us know this movement as “The Great Resignation.” Others have called it “The Great Realization” or even “The Great Assessment.” According to research, one major reason that 79% of workers say they leave is lack of appreciation. The good news? As an employer, you can take this moment and turn it into an opportunity to create a workplace that your employees love by creating a culture of appreciation.

So, just what is a culture of appreciation at work?

According to OneDigital, a culture of appreciation happens when people are valued as individuals and are recognized for their unique contributions and their impact on the business. 

In a manager training here at ActivTrak just recently, our Head of People shared a quote from Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly that reinforces this sentiment: "If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts — so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve — we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”

Why build a culture around appreciation?

One answer: It creates happy employees. And when we have happy employees, the goodness amplifies. Benefits for building a culture of appreciation at work include:

Boosting morale

Positivity tends to be contagious and so does appreciation. When one person shares their gratitude, it tends to be paid forward with another person — cultivating an environment of appreciation (and happier employees!).

Increasing productivity

Happy employees have 65% more energy, which makes it no surprise that they’re also 12% more productive than their counterparts.

Improving employee retention

Happy employees stay in their jobs 4 times longer than unhappy ones. And with the current recruiting climate, that is one stat you can’t ignore. 

Recruiting top talent

Happy employees tend to tell others how great the place they work is — on social, by word-of-mouth, etc. Meaning you get more applicants and build some brand love to boot!

Elevating customer experience

As Chris Marsh from 451 Research shares in this video, more and more evidence suggests that: A Better employee experience = A better customer experience.

Ways to foster a culture of appreciation

So, just how does one build (and keep) a culture of appreciation? It takes time and consistency, but as with anything can start with one step at a time. But the most important thing? To listen and acknowledge what you’ve heard.

There are several ways to learn what makes each person on your team tick. Here are a few ways to understand team:

Get to know your employee personally. 

It can seem like one of the easiest ways to start, but it’s often hard with time constraints. Find out about their background, hobbies, family, etc. You might be surprised how much you learn by simply asking how someone’s weekend was or what their weekend plans are going to be.

Know their strengths & weaknesses.

It can be a vulnerable thing to share your weaknesses, so creating a safe space for this is important. One way to do this is to share your own weakness. Follow that up with how they can help you, or how you’ve asked your own manager to help you with that. 

Identify their drivers & distractions.

One of the great things about being human is that we’re unique. While we all have things in common, the things that may drive you could be very different from what motivates me. The key here is to ask and to listen. You may have a sense of distractions or those could come out in your 1:1 discussions. You can also use various tools (like ActivTrak… I had to mention because I do use it for this!) to uncover distractions for your team or for yourself. My #1 distraction? Slack. Once you know distractions, you can help come up with solutions or listen to ones your team member proposes. 

Learn their personal & professional goals.

As you have conversations with them, ask about their goals both at work and at home. Helping them put a plan in place to reach those goals shows that you’re listening to them and investing in their success. A good time to discuss this is along with your quarterly or half-year goal setting. 

Find out how they like to be recognized & rewarded.

Just like a person’s drivers and distractions can be unique to them, the way they like to be recognized can be too. One person may love public praise, while another may prefer to be acknowledged 1:1. Or words of affirmation may not be the key, but the financial reward may be how to make them feel appreciated.

Putting appreciation into action

The key to fostering a culture of appreciation is to listen to your employees, acknowledge them, and take steps to create this environment. It doesn’t have to be everything overnight. As we wrap up, here are some quick do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Listen
  • Show empathy
  • Ask open-ended questions — what or how
  • Be transparent
  • Be vulnerable
  • Be open
  • Recognize 
  • Create trust
  • Understand their motivations
  • Be flexible


  • Set unrealistic expectations
  • Talk “at” them
  • Ignore them
  • Lose your temper
  • Discredit ideas
  • Violate their trust
  • Make promises you can’t keep

About ActivTrak

ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce analytics and productivity management software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. Additionally, with data sourced from more than 9,500 customers and over 450,000 users, ActivTrak’s Workforce Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.

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