Lessons in Employee Motivation, Appreciation & Performance from GenY

Lessons in Employee Motivation, Appreciation & Performance

Where do you spend a majority (or at least a good chunk) of your time? Work. And do you feel valued or appreciated for all of the work you do? If you’re like nearly half of employees out there, there’s a good chance the answer is “no.”

Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association (APA) released results from their online survey on employee engagement, satisfaction and motivation as they relate to feeling valued by an employer. Surprisingly or not, only 54 percent said their employer made them feel valued, but of those, 93 percent said they’re motivated to do their best and 88 percent said they felt engaged. Of those who did not feel valued, only 33 percent said they’re motivated to do their best and only 38 percent felt engaged.

How Employee Appreciation is Linked to Work Performance

While these results are only representative of a single group of respondents (there are others similar studies out there), there is a clear correlation between feeling valued/appreciated and a desire to perform well and remain actively engaged with an employer.

Unfortunately, too many companies have too little focus on this piece of the recruitment-engagement-retention puzzle but then wonder why they’re losing top talent to other organizations or not even able to get them in the door let alone discussing how work performance is impacted.

Lessons in Employee Appreciation from “The Millennials”

It may be easier to dismiss as sappy fad with no real value that’s only important to Gen Y (aka the Millennials), but with nearly half of the workforce reporting they aren’t feeling the love from their employer, it’s time to pay more attention to want employees really want. Sometimes it’s a more competitive salary, other times it’s flextime, but I would go out on a limb to say there’s always a desire to be appreciated.

A Fresh Perspective on Feeling Valued & Workplace Motivation

You may disagree with my last statement, but as someone who recently went from being simply content in a role/with a company for multiple years to being amazed with a new organization in the first week alone, being valued and appreciated means more than you’d think – you just might not realize it until you experience it differently.

A fresh perspective on what a career can and should be has brought the idea of employee appreciation being a key factor in employee engagement and motivation to the forefront. It’s something that must be visible and authentic from the first interaction (think candidate experience), during the interview process, on the first day and ongoing throughout an employee’s tenure. If you fail to recognize and act upon this desire, your ability to recruit and retain the best people will prove more and more difficult as a new generation takes over the workforce.

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Autumn McReynolds

Autumn McReynolds is the Content Strategist and Lead Blogger for TalentMinded, an online publication focused on talent attraction and engagement in the digital age. After landing in the recruitment space in 2009, she has spent the past three years in the job board industry as both a recruiter and project manager, consulting with clients about job advertisements, employment brand and SEO strategies for attracting new candidates via job postings. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. rblake says

    You bring up a lot of good points when it comes into GenY and the value of appreciation. I think there are many different types of appreciation out there and some might receive great feedback, but if it’s not in tune with their personality it won’t be as gratifying.

    That’s why I think it’s important to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test when hired on so your boss and even co-workers can learn what type of person you are. I did it here at my current workplace and it has proven to be spot on.

    • Autumn says

      I absolutely agree with you and considered getting into that but decided not to for the sake of length. At my previous company, we did DiSC assessments, and I found those to be really interesting and extremely useful when it came to personal preferences for feedback and recognition. Personally, I don’t need the actual words “thank you” and prefer not to have any type of public recognition. It’s the day-to-day communication and acknowledgement that me and my ideas are valuable. I know others have very different personalities and need to feel the are appreciated in other ways, too.

  2. Kes Thygesen says

    You’re right, employee motivation and recognition is essential in any successful organization. But another way to motivate employees is to have an incentive-based employee referral program. In this approach, employees get more than a “thank you” for becoming involved in a key process in your business: hiring. Thus, incoming candidates have a better experience with the brand from the start. What do you think?

    • Autumn says

      I wouldn’t disagree with that at all, but I’m not simply referring to times when the company has hiring needs. My last place of employment – or at least my team – was not hiring frequently or did not need people I had within my network. At that point, it’s not an option to participate in the referral program, though it definitely was incentive-based. I’m thinking more of the overall appreciation for going above and beyond, contributing to the company/team in meaningful ways, etc… on a regular basis. Feeling like you “belong” may mean more than you think.


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