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Why do small gestures of appreciation matter at the workplace?

by Kartikay Kashyap

An HBR study states that 72% of employees believe that recognition plays an impactful role in employee engagement and small gestures of appreciation help in enhancing recognition at the workplace.


During the pandemic, most global companies worked remotely and faced a common challenge of stress and burnout in employees. This was mainly due to the lack of work-life balance as the work-from-home model blurred the line between professional and personal life. Even in such tough times, there were some companies who actually took steps to address this issue. In June 2021, a global social networking app gave a two-week holiday to its entire staff to unwind from work.

Recently, an Indian e-commerce startup decided to give an 11-day mental health leave to their staff in 2022 after the end of the festive season in India. In the E-commerce industry, employees work excessively during the festive sale season. This made Meesho come up with a ‘Reset and Recharge’ policy for its staff.

How small gestures make an impact? 

Recognition at the workplace is all about being valued amongst peers. Small gestures of appreciation go a long way in bringing about employee satisfaction, a few of them are mentioned below:

  • Creates a positive work environment – Small gestures of care spread positivity at the workplace. The act of saying a ‘Thank you’ or a regular ‘Good Morning’ with a smile to co-workers helps in developing a positive environment at the workplace. Such an environment helps people in relieving stress and improves productivity. 
  • Builds camaraderie – Simple gestures of helping a colleague on a challenging project or pitching in to help a co-worker to reduce their workload helps to build a strong relationship between employees. Teamwork and collaboration amongst team members are crucial for better performance. A sense of collaboration often leads to greater ideas and promotes innovation. 
  • Small gestures are low cost – Employee engagement is a crucial for businesses. Many companies spend huge budgets on employee engagement which ensures a motivated and engaged workforce. But small gestures such as sending a motivational note of thanks to all team members over the mail or having a mentoring outlook towards young employees to help them grow have no cost at all. Young employees who are starting their career in the corporate appreciate a manager who provides them with meaningful feedback which help them to grow and develop as professionals.  
  • Small gestures can be personalised – For instance, a manager can send a small token of appreciation to an employee. Peers and managers can send personalised gifts ranging from a mug, diary, flowers, or a flower pot as a token of appreciation for good work. Such gestures become memorable as well.

Appreciation ideas that work!

  1. If an employee goes above and beyond their regular duties or Key Responsibilities Areas (KRAs), it is easy to send them an appreciation note or motivational feedback. In this way, employees get motivation to work hard.
  2. Public recognition for an employee further motivates employees to work harder. For e.g. managers can appreciate the efforts of an employee in team meetings or public gatherings. This enhances performance and motivates the employee to keep up the good work. 
  3. Those who are away from their families often crave homemade food. If possible, one may consider bringing breakfast or lunch for these employees as a way to show  appreciation.
  4. Sharing a colleague’s workload. Sometimes, one may feel overburdened with too much work. Taking the initiative to share their workload as a gesture of help and care can markedly go a long way. 
  5. After a good effort by an employee, a manager can send a small token of appreciation such as a small mug or a plant pot which can be memorable and makes employees feel valued at work. 
  6. To create a sense of purpose at work, managers can help employees to understand the impact they are creating on the success of the company. Moreover, managers can share positive customer feedback with employees to motivate and show people the real impact of their work on customers and clients. 
  7. Digital recognition platforms also facilitate peers and managers to recognise the efforts of employees on their intranet. Managers can use social media to give kudos to employees and share their achievements with everyone. 
  8. It is common for young people to desire to grow and develop themselves in their careers. Hence, managers should have a coaching and mentoring mindset to develop young talent in the company. Employees always appreciate such actions by all means.
  9. Listening is a vital skill for all leaders. In fact, many employees go through a lot of issues and problems in their personal and professional life. They need someone to listen to their concerns and give helpful suggestions to solve the problem. Such gestures get appreciation from the employees. 
  10. Companies can look to build a stronger engagement programme by implementing a digital reward and recognition platform. It allows them to celebrate professional and personal milestones. Furthermore, digital platforms allow organisations to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries which can become a consistent practice. 

There is no doubt that small gestures of appreciation have a great impact. After all, workplace cultures develop from human relations. Meaningful appreciation practices certainly become a bedrock for creating a culture of appreciation in an organisation.