How To Establish a Culture of Employee Engagement and Appreciation

Employee recognition has been a cornerstone of effective management for generations, but as today’s competition for talent esc...

May 27, 2021
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Employee recognition has been a cornerstone of effective management for generations, but as today’s competition for talent escalates, how organizations value their employees is more critical than ever.

As companies grow, this becomes even more of a challenge. Leaders must rethink how they choose to build a culture of appreciation that leads to an uptick in employee engagement and retention.

The data supports this as well. According to a study conducted by employee communications platform Smarp, businesses with high employee engagement are 22 percent more profitable and have 18 percent higher retention rates.

Yet, according to Achievers, an industry-leading employee engagement platform provider, only 20 percent of employees say they feel engaged at work, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. That’s a pretty clear sign that something needs to change.

Why You Need a Culture Shift

From a very early age, we want recognition from those we look up to – parents, siblings, friends, teachers. That continues to hold as we move into the workplace. Employee recognition serves to speak to this ingrained desire, retain top talent, increase employee engagement, and encourage high performance.

If you want to improve employee engagement, start by looking at your culture. A positive culture has a significant impact on employee motivation, while poor culture negatively impacts morale and employee engagement.

Three Elements to Prompt Employee Engagement

While every company, and thus every culture, is different, there are three things any organization can do to create a positive culture of engagement and support.

Promote Transparency and Communication

Creating avenues for open employee communication leads to a cycle of engagement and advocacy. Employees will buy into a culture that promotes transparency and authenticity and will be more willing to advocate for their brand.

By cultivating an open environment for employees to share their stories, you’ll also ensure they feel confident in growing their thought leadership. Whether that’s a regularly-held open forum for teams to give their input on major projects or consistent team-building activities to draw employees out of their shells, a demonstrated investment in their workplace. This investment will provide employees with a sense of pride in their work, which will help them feel invested in what they do.

Provide Support

Employees who feel supported and cared for are more engaged and want to bring their best to the business. Cultivate a culture of support by setting up internal support systems like mentoring and workshops, keeping employees available and accountable for helping one another get complex work done smoothly, and encouraging managers to schedule and prioritize activities that strengthen human connections with employees.

Not only will this build trust among employees, but by building support mechanisms into your daily operations, managers will be able to identify when employees are looking tired or withdrawn and can activate the appropriate support systems.

Express Appreciation

Expressing appreciation is arguably the most effective way to build a culture of employee engagement. A TINYpulse report found that nearly 22 percent of employees who don’t feel recognized for their hard work have been actively looking for a new job in the past few months. Building a culture of appreciation is critical to your success.

There’s no universal program that works for every organization, but there are some elements to consider when crafting an appreciation program.

Specificity and Relevancy

Recognition is more meaningful when it’s tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective. When recognizing employees, please explain what the recognition is for and why their contribution warrants this praise. Specificity encourages continued strong performance.


Accolades that arrive months after the fact aren’t nearly as meaningful as recognition that comes promptly. The longer it takes employees to get recognition for their accomplishments, the less likely employees will see the affirmations as authentic.


Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes that go well beyond cash. Instead of shelling out for a bonus or a raise, consider customized gifts, taking them out for a meal, or other acts that show employees their rewards are personalized to their interests.


Ensure that employees can see their company values them and that their contributions to the success of their team and the company matter. Knowing this connection exists is particularly vital when organizations grow and change; it helps employees build a sense of security in their value to the company, motivating them to continue their excellent work.

In addition to consistent recognition, regularly share news about how your company is striving toward your vision and explain how individual employee goals relate to that.

Final Words

When you focus on crafting a corporate culture of appreciation, support, and communication, employee engagement should naturally follow. The aim is to ensure that employees feel like they’re a part of a strong culture that gives them a sense of belonging and pride. Remember that getting your employees excited about your culture is critical to success, and prioritize crafting employee engagement and appreciation programs. After all, without great people, your company will never thrive!

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide