Although a forward-thinking business plan, an extensive professional network and financial resources are essential components for driving forward an organisation, their true value would be meaningless without the diverse talent and skill set brought by individual employees.

With that said, establishing a work culture that ensures each team member feels appreciated for their efforts, talent, loyalty, and passion should be considered one of the foundational tenets for any business striving to succeed.

Truly successful organisations make employee recognition an ongoing process, which goes beyond an occasional paid lunch or coffee for the team. Effective appreciation involves understanding the evolving needs and priorities of team members, whilst providing them with the resources necessary to reach their potential.

Here are a few actionable steps for SME business leaders to keep in mind to ensure their work culture does not fall short from recognising their workforce’s value and merits.

Leadership Starts From a Shared Vision

In today’s professional environment there is a strong appreciation for the ethical and social impact that leaders and organisations bring. For most people work involves more than just bringing home a paycheck. It’s important that employees also care about the future and success of the company.

Business leaders should strive to be transparent about where their company is heading to, before asking their employees what is required of them to get there. Treating employees as equal partners working together towards the company’s objectives is an effective and genuine way to build rapport and take onboard their insights.

There’s nothing more rewarding than feeling like your voice is heard within an organisation, and can go a long way in helping team members feel more valued and appreciated. Employees perform better when they’re aware of their individual value and talent to help the organisation move forward.

A Little Recognition Can Go a Long Way

As mentioned above, monetary incentives are not always the strongest method to boost morale. Instead fostering a culture of recognition can deeply resonate with employees, helping to keep spirits high and strengthen relationships.

For instance, incorporating small yet meaningful moments to reward team members for their hard work can be a powerful way to show employees that the company sees and values their contributions. These moments can include team-building activities, wellness initiatives and additional opportunities for personal and professional development.

Recognition shouldn’t only come from senior leadership; every team member can contribute to make their colleagues feel valued and equally indispensable. Try introducing internal recognition meetings to share kudos, and symbolically reward each member of the team for their contributions no matter how big or small. By dedicating time and resources to these initiatives, organisations signal their commitment to supporting and valuing each other through actions and not just words.

Happy Employees Do Not Quit

Recognising employees’ value does not only contribute to happier and more dedicated employees, but also serves as a critical component of a business’ retention strategy. When employees feel supported mentally and emotionally in their professional environment, they are more inclined to seek growth opportunities within the company and feel more engaged with their work.

When individuals assess their overall life quality, they often consider the relationship with their job, including work-life balance and relationships with colleagues and senior managers, which significantly impacts their mental health and overall satisfaction with their career. As a consequence, leaders interested in achieving better employee retention rates should be thinking about enacting policies, or more broadly, crafting employee benefits plans that are able to assist their staff with substantial health and wellness support.

For instance, allocating sufficient time for employees to unwind and recharge can be an effective and simple way to facilitate moments of tension release and personal self-care. And importantly, time off can be of different forms, extending beyond annual leave. It may involve attending industry events or conferences, allowing employees to step away from the office while taking an opportunity to develop new skills, or simply recharge from the work week. Additionally, leaders might not want to underestimate the importance of creating more 1:1s or general internal moments for checking-in on staff engagement.

By acknowledging their contributions and introducing a stronger focus on wellness amongst the company’s internal objectives, business leaders can show their people that they matter beyond professional outputs, which in turn helps discourage silent disengagement and burnout. There might be fewer quiet quitters if every action that goes above and beyond was followed by proportional appraisal.

Constant and Constructive Feedback

Humans possess an inherent drive to seek feedback, as it enables us to navigate and respond to the world around us. In the absence of constructive feedback, employees often resort to inventing information which could create obstacles that ultimately hinder business success and individual growth. Giving constructive, thoughtful and timely feedback helps to prevent these information gaps. It strengthens relationships between employees and their managers, and helps improve individual teams as well as the wider organisational performance.

Showing appreciation is a sign of strength, and it starts from the top. Business leaders who know how to value their employees are better equipped to mitigate instances of low morale and disengagement among their teams. These leaders know that true recognition transcends occasional gestures like paid lunches or coffee treats. It involves understanding and addressing the evolving needs of team members while providing them with the necessary resources for personal and professional growth.

Andy Perkins headshot
Andy Perkins
Managing Director at Vistage | + posts

As Managing Director, Andy is responsible for leading and supporting Vistage’s teams and operations in the UK, Malaysia, and Germany. His focus lies in driving growth and collaborating with leaders of partner businesses in the mission to improve the effectiveness of the work and enhance the lives of CEOs, business owners, and key executives of small and medium-sized businesses around the world.