Progressive employee experience hinges on creating a culture where acknowledgment is as natural as complaining about Mondays.
In the labyrinthine corridors of modern corporate culture, where buzzwords like “synergy” and “innovation” are tossed around like confetti at a New Year’s Eve party, there lurks an underappreciated, often overlooked concept: acknowledgment. Yes, acknowledgment – that simple act of recognizing someone’s existence, efforts, or achievements. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t wear a cape. But in the grand narrative of creating progressive employee experiences, acknowledgment is, quite frankly, the unsung hero.
Let’s face it, you’ve been there, I’ve been there – we’ve all been there – working our socks off, putting in the extra hours, going that extra mile (or kilometer, for our metric friends), only to be met with… well, nothing. The silence is deafening, isn’t it? It’s like cooking an elaborate dinner for friends who don’t even acknowledge your culinary efforts. “Did anyone notice the hand-carved radish roses?” you wonder, as they wolf down the spaghetti.
But when acknowledgment does occur in the workplace, it’s like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. It doesn’t have to be grandiose; a simple “Hey, great job on that report!” can feel like being handed the Pulitzer. Why? Because acknowledgment taps into our basic human need to be seen, to feel valued.
The science behind the feel-good
When we are acknowledged, our brain does a little happy dance. Dopamine, that delightful neurotransmitter associated with the ‘feel-good’ sensation, gets released. It’s the brain’s way of saying, “Hey, you! Yes, you. You did good. Have some happy chemicals!” This neurological response is crucial in the workplace. It transforms mere employees into motivated, engaged, and – dare I say – happier humans at work.
But acknowledgment in the workplace is often as elusive as that last piece of chocolate you thought you had hidden away. We’re busy, we’re stressed, and let’s be honest, sometimes we’re just a bit self-absorbed. “I’m sure they know they’re doing a good job,” we think, as we scurry past our hardworking colleague without a word.
Here’s where a shift in mindset is needed. Progressive employee experiences hinge on creating a culture where acknowledgment is as natural as complaining about Mondays. It’s about fostering an environment where employees don’t just feel like cogs in a machine but as valued members of a vibrant community.
Consider the African tribe that greets each other with “I see you.” It’s not just a hello; it’s an acknowledgment of the other’s existence, value, and worth. Imagine if we adopted a similar approach in our workplaces. “I see you – yes, you who just spent three hours fixing that code,” or “I see you, who stayed late to finish the presentation.” It’s about creating a sense of belonging and connection.
The genuine-ness factor
I’m not suggesting that every workplace interaction needs to be a profound moment of soulful recognition. That would be exhausting and, quite frankly, a bit weird. “I see you refilling the printer paper” might be taking it too far.
However, embedding genuine acknowledgment into the fabric of our work lives can be transformative. It boosts motivation, fosters loyalty, and enhances overall job satisfaction. When people feel seen and appreciated, they’re more likely to engage, innovate, and contribute positively. It’s a win-win situation.
Yet, there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). Acknowledgment must be genuine. People can sniff out insincerity faster than a dog with a bone. Forced or fake praise is about as effective as a chocolate teapot. It just doesn’t work. So, when you acknowledge someone, mean it. Be specific about what you appreciate. “I really liked how you handled that client’s query with empathy and professionalism” is far more impactful than a generic “good job.”
Some companies just seem to get it more than others
Google: Google has long been recognized for its employee-friendly environment. One of their notable practices is the “peer bonus” system, where employees can nominate their peers for bonuses for their outstanding work. This not only provides financial recognition but also fosters a culture of peer appreciation. Google’s environment, which emphasizes recognition and creativity, has led to high employee satisfaction and retention rates.
Salesforce: Salesforce takes employee acknowledgment seriously with its “Ohana Culture,” which emphasizes family spirit. They have a recognition program called “#SalesforceOhana,” where employees celebrate each other’s achievements on social platforms. This public acknowledgment boosts morale and creates a sense of community. Salesforce’s consistent ranking as one of the best places to work can be partially attributed to such practices.
Netflix: Known for its unique culture, Netflix practices radical candor and transparency, which extends into its recognition methods. They offer substantial performance-based bonuses and empower employees with significant responsibility, acknowledging their capabilities and trustworthiness. This approach has cultivated a high-performance culture where employees feel genuinely valued and responsible.
Zappos: Zappos is famous for its company culture and customer service, but it also excels in employee acknowledgment. They have a program where employees receive a monthly bonus they must give away to a coworker as a token of appreciation. This practice not only acknowledges employees but also builds a strong team spirit and a sense of belonging.
Adobe: Adobe has scrapped traditional performance reviews in favor of a system called “Check-In,” where managers provide regular feedback and career guidance. This continuous feedback loop is more about development and growth than evaluation, making employees feel valued and invested in their personal and professional growth.
Airbnb: Airbnb shows appreciation for its employees by offering “Airbnb credits” which employees can use to travel and stay in Airbnb listings around the world. This not only serves as a unique form of acknowledgment but also helps employees personally connect with the service and mission of the company.
Asana: Asana has a unique way of acknowledging its employees through a program called “Asana Thanks,” where co-workers can publicly acknowledge each other’s contributions and successes. This program is integrated into their project management platform, making acknowledgment a seamless part of their workday.
In the grand scheme of things, acknowledgment is a small act. It’s not going to single-handedly revolutionize the corporate world. But it’s a vital piece of the puzzle in creating a more human-centric, progressive workplace. It’s about recognizing that behind every email, every report, and every project, there are humans – humans who have a fundamental need to feel seen and valued. It might just be the secret ingredient we’ve been overlooking in our recipe for a progressive, fulfilling, and human-centered workplace.