Do your staff feel appreciated? More than a third say your thanks is meaningless 

When just saying “thank you!” is not good enough

Do your staff feel appreciated? More than a third say your thanks is meaningless

Fuel Oil News hears from Andreea Dinu, Culture and Engagement Strategist from O.C. Tanner, as she considers the positive impacts of genuine staff appreciation.

Appreciating your people with an authentic and meaningful “thank you” can deliver powerful results – improved engagement, greater loyalty, reduced staff turnover and increased innovation. After all, everyone wants to feel valued and recognised for the efforts they put in and the results they deliver. On the surface, the energy sector is doing a reasonable job when it comes to employee recognition. However, it appears that in many instances, the recognition is only skin deep. So, what’s going wrong?

Giving recognition is hugely impactful, with O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report finding that 53% of employees would stay at their jobs longer if their employers showed them more appreciation. Companies with recognition integrated into their cultures are also four times’ more likely to have highly engaged employees and are twice as likely to have increased revenue over the past year.


When looking at recognition within the energy industry, the figures are encouraging. 67% of employees state that their leaders acknowledge the great work they do and 61% say that their organisation consistently rewards high performers. However, when the figures are drilled into further, over a third of employees (34%) admit that the recognition they receive feels like an empty gesture and isn’t meaningful. And a worrying 56 per cent feel that productivity and bottom lines are more important to their organisation than the people. 

The issue appears to lie with how recognition is being given. In too many instances, recognition is taking place but it’s poorly executed. For instance, giving recognition to teams far more often than individuals isn’t as powerful; giving recognition in passing rather than with intent feels like an afterthought; and making the recognition moment generic rather than personalised loses the meaning.

For employees to feel valued and appreciated on a regular basis, recognition must become an organisational priority. If it’s not considered important enough by the leaders, little time and effort will be put into getting it right. This means creating a culture of recognition in which showing appreciation becomes second nature. It also means creating an environment where everyone has access to giving and receiving recognition, including leaders, managers and peers.

Timing is everything

Plus, whilst the quick “thanks for that!” is a great start, recognition must be given deliberately for it to be effective. This must include putting time aside to appreciate the employee, giving details as to what they have done that deserves recognition and outlining how they are contributing to their team and the ‘bigger picture’. This makes the appreciation personal and meaningful.

Appreciation must also be given regularly and in a timely way – ideally, it should be given daily across the organisation. Leaving it until the annual review will allow disengagement and resentment to fester.

And tailoring the recognition moment according to each individual’s needs will also ensure it’s personalised. If the employee likes a big ‘fanfare’ then giving recognition in front of managers and peers helps to make the moment more special. This show of appreciation also means that co-workers are clear what ‘great work’ looks like and what they, too, need to do to be recognised. Of course, if the employee would be uncomfortable with such a public show, providing appreciation in a quieter, more private way may well be more appropriate.

For any recognition programme to have impactful results, it’s key for employees to understand how their behaviour links with the company’s values and purpose. This means that every time an employee is appreciated, it needs to be made clear how their behaviour is in line with the organisational values – whether it’s excellent customer service or innovation, for example – and how they’re helping achieve the bigger goal. By linking recognition to values and purpose, this ensures the ‘right’ behaviours’ are shown to be valued and are more likely to be repeated again and again.

And of course, organisations mustn’t forget to recognise key moments in employees’ lives and careers as well as their everyday efforts and achievements. From work anniversaries through to weddings, celebrating important occasions – ideally using symbolic awards – will heighten engagement and foster closer ties between the employee and the company.

Get it right

Leaders must therefore revisit their recognition strategy to see whether it’s delivering results or whether managers are simply going through the motions of appreciating their people. When recognition is done half-heartedly and in an impersonal way, this can be worse that not giving recognition at all as employees are left feeling like a number on the payroll. With so much to be gained from an effective recognition programme, leaders can’t afford to pay it lip-service but must invest in getting it right.

Andreea Dinu is European Culture and Engagement Strategist at O.C. Tanner. She works with European companies to help them design, apply, sustain and elevate culture and employee recognition strategies that affect positive changes across their multinational workplaces and in the everyday experiences of their people at work. These changes have a measurable impact on culture, people, and business metrics.