Although many employers offer flex time and remote work opportunities, our tether to technology makes it all too easy to keep logging time, long after we should be laying it aside. And it doesn’t help that the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study revealed that 65% of employees say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside the office, right in line with the expectation of 64% of employers who want them to be on call when they are officially off the clock.
The problem is not only that too much work makes you less productive, but also that not taking time off makes employees feel like they aren’t valued. According to a global poll of nearly 2,000 participants from Monster, nearly half of American workers (48%) never feel appreciated at work, while another 41.9% say they only feel appreciated occasionally.
Not long ago, Gretchen Rubin, author of the best-selling book The Happiness Project , told Fast Company, “A workplace is far likelier to be a happy place when policies are in place to ensure that people regularly get acknowledgement and praise for a job well done, and where people feel that their happiness at work matters to their employers.”
Our experts gave us a few tips to make employees feel more valued.
“The annual review is dead. Happiness is a daily journey.” James Key Lim, one of the first employees of Zappos and CEO of Delivering Happiness at Work told us that because work inevitably bleeds into professional life, it is important to help employees find better work-life integration.
To do this, he recommends aligning people with their passions both on the job and in the rest of their lives. “From an organizational perspective this really takes time,” he says, because it requires crafting clear, co-owned values, along with doing consistent checks to ensure that everyone stays aligned.
Speaking of the annual review, not only does the infrequency fail to reinforce a worker’s sense of worth, there is often too much emphasis placed on what could have been done better, especially among those in the finance industry who reported this as a reason for their low job satisfaction.
More frequent and is of greater value, says Anthony Stephan of Deloitte Consulting. As Gallup research shows: “When employees feel that their company cares and encourages them to make the most of their strengths, they are more likely to respond with increased discretionary effort, a stronger work ethic, and more enthusiasm and commitment.”
This can extend beyond the offer of an empathetic ear or pat on the back. In fact, some companies in the construction industry–a bastion of blissful workers, according to an employee feedback survey– found that holding routine safety meetings reinforced that the employer cared about its staff.
Expressions of gratitude often get cast aside in the more pressing haste to meet goals. Not saying thank you can hurt in the long term. Research from Harvard Health found that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves their health, deal with adversity, and builds stronger relationships.”
Managers are in charge of more than just projects and deliverables; they have the power to manage employee emotion and motivation as well. Passing the buck when praised for a team effort is a way to earn respect as well as increased productivity. “The significance of personal contribution improves the level of commitment and creativity in the task,” says workplace psychologist Marcelo Manucci. So show the appropriate level of gratitude by thanking people both publicly and privately.
Ultimately, as workplace consultant Roberta Matuson says, thanking employees for their contribution is something that can easily be done and doesn’t require a wad of cash. “It just requires the desire to be the kind of manager you wished you had either now, or at some point in your life.”