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The Power of Appreciation: How to Strengthen Workplace Bonds Through Gratitude



Appreciation is a fundamental element of any strong relationship, including those at work. When employees feel valued and appreciated, bonds within teams strengthen, engagement rises, and organizations reap significant benefits. However, many leaders and employees struggle to express sincere appreciation regularly. Utilizing simple, consistent methods to show gratitude at work can transform workplace culture and interpersonal dynamics.


Today we will explore easy tactics to demonstrate appreciation daily.


Appreciate People's Presence


A simple but powerful way to show appreciation is by acknowledging people's presence. Thanking coworkers for showing up, despite busy lives outside work, demonstrates their value. Consider saying, “I’m glad you’re here today,” or, “Thanks for being here,” as teammates arrive. If someone seems under the weather, say, “I’m grateful you came in despite not feeling well.” Noticing who is missing and reaching out conveys care for their well-being. These small gestures reinforce bonds within teams.


For example, when my coworker Anna arrived late to a staff meeting due to a sick child, I said, “Anna, I’m so glad you could make it. I know juggling a sick kiddo and work isn't easy. Thanks for being here.” She smiled and seemed relieved her tardiness wasn’t an issue. Later, Anna shared how much that acknowledgement meant during a stressful morning.


Appreciate Ideas and Contributions


Honoring colleagues’ expertise and input demonstrates appreciation for their role. When employees share suggestions, make it clear you value their perspective through active listening. Maintain eye contact, ask thoughtful follow-up questions, and thank them for their thoughts.


Highlight teammates’ contributions in meetings with leadership. For instance, "Sarah recommended an excellent approach to improve our product testing process. Her idea will really strengthen quality control." Follow up with specific praise to the employee like, "Thanks for that terrific recommendation in our meeting, Sarah. Your perspective as an engineer is so valuable."


When we shine a spotlight on people’s ideas, it conveys appreciation for their capability and role. I make sure my direct reports know I rely on their expertise by frequently referencing their guidance when leading projects. Regular, sincere praise encourages them to continue bringing innovative ideas.


Appreciate Lives Outside Work


While work provides community and purpose, it should not subsume employees’ lives. Families, hobbies, and personal growth matter too. Expressing interest in people’s passions beyond work demonstrates appreciation for them as multidimensional individuals.


Start by learning what interests teammates have outside the office. Initiate conversations about favorite sports teams, TV shows, community service activities, or family vacations. Then, reference those interests in casual interactions. Say things like, “How was your son’s volleyball playoff game this weekend?” or “You must be excited for the Taylor Swift concert next month!” Thoughtful questions and comments will stick with people.


Also, respect boundaries and discourage excessive overtime. Model healthy habits like leaving on time, taking lunch breaks, and nurturing interests outside work. An overwork culture hurts morale and well-being. Setting realistic expectations and encouraging balance conveys care for the whole person.


Appreciate Needs for Growth


While promotions and training opportunities are traditional aspects of growth, development also comes through daily challenges and learning from others. Employees feel most appreciated when leaders understand their career goals and provide growth opportunities.


Schedule time with direct reports to learn about their professional aspirations. Then look for chances to assign projects utilizing their skillsets and interests. Aim to be a mentor who guides their growth. Says leadership expert John Maxwell, “A good leader is focused on helping people reach their full potential." Coworker relationships also offer development opportunities. Suggest peer mentoring or job shadowing for employees with common interests.


Finally, view your team’s feedback as a gift rather than criticism. Actively request input on strengths and areas for improvement. Applying their suggestions shows appreciation by signaling you value their insights.


Conclusion


Demonstrating sincere appreciation daily requires concerted effort but yields tremendous rewards in workplace relationships and culture. A little gratitude goes a long way. When leaders and employees apply tactics like valuing presence, honoring contributions, caring about lives outside work, and supporting growth, bonds strengthen exponentially. People feel motivated, engaged, and committed to organizations where simple appreciation is the norm. By taking time to be intentionally grateful, we can transform teams and workplaces.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.





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