Best human resource initiative: Appreciate employees

People who are valued and appreciated give their best; and the best way to value people is to create an environment in which they are treated well

Coffee table with a note written great work keep it up

It's the most effective way of boosting morale and keeping your employees happy. Respect your fellow human beings, treat them fairly,disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.
—Bill Bradley

If you were to ask me to name one resource that we  all undervalue, underrate and underutilise, I would say it is undoubtedly our Human Resource. HR has now come to be a specialist term in management; HR in former times was people power; it wasn’t just as ‘staff’ or ‘resources’ but as Mr Joshi, Ms Khanna, Ms Jones and Ms Krishnan, that people were referred to. But then, as now, one thing stands true: if you don’t value your people, you will lose them!

Recently, one of my friends who is an entrepreneur told me that a research project done in the US has found quantifiable proof that there is a direct correlation between how you treat the people who work for you and your company’s financial results. People who are valued and appreciated give their best; and the best way to value people is to create an environment in which they are treated well and made to feel valued and appreciated. Unfortunately, I know many ‘bosses’ and ‘superiors’ who do not like to convey their appreciation and value to their subordinates; they feel that these employees are doing what they are paid to do: why should they bother to appreciate them over and above the wages they are paid?

The second reason is even more devious: praise someone and chances are that s/he might expect a promotion or increment; might even get a ‘big head’. So why inflate their ego? Get the work done and let them get on with the rest of the work.

Alas, people are stingy with praise. A manpower consultancy firm found that 58 per cent of the employees they interviewed in a metro city said that they did
not even receive a simple thank-you note from their bosses for a job that was done well.

It was William James who said that the deepest need of a human being is the craving to be appreciated.

Praise helps people to reinstate their own self esteem. This, in turn, makes them enthusiastic about what they are doing; they find it worthwhile to achieve targets. Cash incentives, bonuses, perks and material benefits alone are not enough to retain people in an organisation and keep them motivated. We need to realise that people’s sense of self worth and dignity are high value assets that need to be protected. For those of us who are always worried about additional expenses, it is good to know that appreciation will make no dents in the pocket, and one can freely use it anytime, anywhere. A research carried out among young MBA students at a premier institution in India, found that the freshers valued appreciation more than a fat paycheck.

A successful business values its people as its assets, rather than as ‘staff’ or ‘workforce.’ A respected, well-treated employee is a satisfied employee who will work even harder to enhance his self-respect and prove his worth to an appreciative employer. It is not just a cliché to say, “People are our number one asset.” People are, in fact, the life-blood of an organisation.

Here is a list of simple techniques to boost morale amongst your employees:

  • Learn to express your thanks in words, through official letters and notes
  • Encourage people to come out with their suggestions and opinions. You may not agree with them; but it is good for you to know what they think
  • Share a light moment with them; crack jokes, smile and laugh with them
  • Remember to send them a note or a card on their birthdays
  • Be sensitive to their needs
  • Understand their perspective
  • Encourage creativity and innovation through special awards
  • Make sure that you have realistic expectations from people: remember, each one has different potential
  • Do not try to exercise constant control over people and events. Just give them the right direction
  • Praise deserving staff publicly and at meetings

A lesson in appreciation

Let me remind you, this applies not only to your employees, but also to your clients, suppliers and others. An amusing story is told to us of Somerset Maugham, the famous author. His books had been published and sold in Spain, and Spanish laws did not permit him to take his enormous royalties out of the country at that time. Maugham decided that he would spend all the accumulated money in Spain, by taking a luxurious holiday at one of the famous Spanish resorts. He moved into a fine hotel, took their best suite, entertained his guests lavishly and had a great vacation. When he was fairly certain that most of the money had been spent, he asked for the bill, and announced at the reception that he would be leaving the resort in a couple of days.

The Manager of the hotel called on him that afternoon. Maugham was told very politely that he had no bill to pay. His very presence at the hotel had been a matter of prestige to the proprietor; hundreds of visitors had been attracted to the hotel by Maugham’s presence. The newspapers had written about his stay there. This had generated a lot of favourable publicity. There was no way that the hotel could charge a guest who had brought so much benefit to them. The Spaniards knew how to value people.

Experts tell us of some distinct dimensions of managerial skills, which we do not normally associate with the conventional image of a ‘boss.’

  1. They are responsible, not only for the productivity, but also for the happiness and emotional wellbeing of the people who work under them [indirectly and directly, this affects productivity and profits too].
  2. Like the head of a family, or the coach of a sports team, the manager has an emotional responsibility towards his subordinates.
  3. It is the manager and his style of functioning that  makes the work environment stressful or comfortable; happy or strained; fun or hell.
  4. While he has been hired by the organisation to promote its profits, the manager also has a more serious commitment to those who work under him—because their careers, their future are entrusted to his care.
  5. It is not merely his job to tell people what to do: it is also his job to encourage people to contribute their ideas and suggestions on all projects undertaken by the company.
  6. It is not enough for him to ‘keep an eye’ on the coming and going and doings of his people: it is also essential for him to give them the freedom and space where they will be able to function at their optimum.

The best brains and the best talents in an organisation need to be nurtured in an environment that allows them to grow personally and professionally. A good manager keeps them focused, motivated and happy. What kind of a manager are you? What kind of a manager would you like to have as your boss?

This article was first published in the December 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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J P Vaswani
J P Vaswani - or Dada as he is affectionately called - is the spiritual head of The Sadhu Vaswani Mission, Pune. He is the moving force behind the multitude of humanitarian work that the mission does. Dada has received the prestigious U-Thant Peace Award for his dedicated service to the world peace.

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