Lifting the Human Spirit

According to a study by the University of North Carolina, two-thirds of employees worldwide feel undervalued and unappreciated by their organisations or leaders. This is a staggering statistic, and it's no surprise that employee morale is often low as a result.

Recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work. Global studies show that when it comes to inspiring people to be their best at work, nothing else comes close—not even higher pay, promotion, autonomy, or training. A study by the University of Pennsylvania cited that workers who feel their successes are recognised and celebrated are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their jobs.  Simply expecting employees to keep performing at the same high level, day in and day out can lead to burnout

According to a poll conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bonusly, two-thirds of respondents feel unappreciated by their employer on a daily basis, and 59 percent say they’ve never had a boss who truly appreciates their work. One in three even claims (29%) they’d willingly give up a week’s worth of pay for more recognition from their employer

The feeling of being underappreciated can lead to a whole host of problems, both for the individual and for the organisation as a whole. Low morale can lead to decreased productivity, while a feeling of being unappreciated can lead to high levels of absenteeism and turnover.

Workers who don't feel their successes are recognised are less likely to go above and beyond in their jobs. Unappreciated employees are twice as likely to quit their job compared to their appreciated colleagues. Global studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation as their reason for leaving.

Hence, organisations that do not celebrate small wins and victories of their employees are missing out on important opportunities to boost morale, and improve performance and staff loyalty.  

It's therefore essential that organisations do everything they can to ensure their employees feel valued and appreciated. 

In order to engage and motivate employees, it is important for leaders to celebrate small victories along the way. The key is to make sure the recognition is genuine, relevant, and specific. This not only builds morale but also creates a sense of momentum and progress.

Here are some things that  leaders can do to encourage the heart of their people as researched by Kouzes and Posner. 


Personalising Recognition For Individual Excellence:

1. Get to know your employees and find out what motivates them. Then use what you learned to tailor your recognition. If someone is motivated by a challenge, for instance, you might assign them a more difficult task or goal. Or perhaps an employee gets motivated by written appreciation, then write him/her a ‘thank you” card. 

2. Make it personal. Appreciation is most effective when it is done personally and not through a third party. Saying or writing a personal “thank you” card for a specific contribution to an employee will make an impactful heart-lifting moment for the recipient of appreciation.  When it comes to personalising recognition, it's important to remember that the goal is to make employees feel valued. By taking the time to understand what motivates them and showing appreciation for their efforts, you can create a more engaged, productive workforce.

 Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community:

According to Kouzes and Posner. “When social connections are strong and numerous, there’s more trust, reciprocity, information flow, collective action, and happiness – and, by the way, greater wealth”. 

By creating a communal atmosphere that celebrates values and victories, leaders can bring life back into the workplace.

1. Celebrate successes, no matter how small - Acknowledge progress and effort, not just results. This will encourage employees to keep up the good work.  Be creative about incentives to employees. Encourage employees to give feedback about what type of recognition they prefer. This way, you can ensure that the recognition you're giving is truly appreciated. 

2. Create a spirit of community -  This can be done by creating opportunities for employees to interact with each other outside of work. This can be through organising social events, sports teams, or any other activity that employees can participate in. Doing this helps to create a sense of team spirit and camaraderie which can carry over into the workplace.

3. Create accomplishments in public -   This is a great way to show that your organisation values employee efforts and achievements. It also serves as a motivator for employees as they can see their hard work being recognised publicly. Create opportunities for public recognition to celebrate employee contributions. Make celebration part of the team culture. 

Learning how to Encourage the Heart, like any other skill, needs continuous self-reflection, dedication, and practice.  The Leadership Challenge framework provides insights into how to Encourage the Heart by modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.

One of the most important things a leader can do is learn how to Encourage the Heart. This skill is essential for motivating and inspiring others to achieve greatness.

To learn more about  how to encourage the heart contact us at

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