According to Mike Robbins in his TED Talk: ‘The Power of Appreciation‘, a recent UC Berkley study revealed:

  • 23% of people who feel ‘recognized‘ are more effective & productive
  • 43% of people who feel ‘appreciated‘ are more effective & productive

This means that moving employee perceptions from feeling ‘recognized’ to ‘appreciated’ causes, according to the study, a 20% lift in effectiveness and productivity. Karey Stanley-Boyd

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. – Voltaire

Recognition in the workplace is often associated with winning an award or getting a new title or perhaps a trophy for your desk. These things are nice but are most meaningful when they are earned and coveted as indicating an outstanding contribution. When recognition is over-used it can become less meaningful and even counter-productive.

However, appreciation is powerful and when done in an authentic and meaningful way, at least 20% more impactful than recognition. All employees want to feel valued and appreciated not only for their work but also for their contribution to the team, the culture, and the group’s outcomes.

Be generous with appreciation and use recognition sparingly.

The Challenge

Here are some things that make showing appreciation challenging:

  • We may have grown up in an environment that did not model or teach appreciation
  • It takes time and awareness in order to show authentic appreciation (although with focus and practice it will become natural)
  • Fear of demotivating an employee (the studies do not prove that appreciation will remove motivation but sometimes we believe that it will)
  • Fear of not saying the right thing (real appreciation cannot be “wrong”)
  • Not being “fair” or being seen as playing favorites (do notice the quiet contributors)
  • Overwhelm or frustration (this can feel like one more thing to do)
  • Not feeling valued yourself (it can be hard to show appreciation if you do not feel appreciated yourself- in which case communication with your leader is warranted)!

Why this skill matters


Team members feel seen and respected when they are authentically appreciated for who they are and what they do. A strong culture develops based on respect and mutual appreciation.

Appreciation vs Recognition

A culture of appreciation creates a workspace that feels good. And, over time, work colleagues will learn to recognize opportunities to show gratitude in a way that connects us more deeply.