Thought Leadership

Unleashing the power of recognition and appreciation



Four coworkers celebrate together in a shower of confetti.

Recognition and appreciation are big components of our employee experience at Presbyterian Homes & Services. We continually look for ways to celebrate individuals and teams. Doing this contributes to a sense of camaraderie and teamwork within our organization. In our valuing of employees — not just for what they do but also for who they are — we also seek to strengthen their valuing of the residents and clients we serve in senior housing and services. As a nonprofit ministry with a strong culture of Christian caring, this virtuous circle is constantly at work.

Author, speaker and leadership expert Mike Robbins, says that recognition is an acknowledgement (praise) that typically comes from the top down (our manager; our manager’s manager, etc.) based on positive results or performance.

In contrast, Robbins defines appreciation as something far more expansive. Appreciation is the valuing of people for who they are, not just what they do. This might be a literal or figurative pat on the back, a note, complimentary words spoken publicly or privately or something else. Appreciation can be simple, but it MUST be personal.

According to the Gallup-Workhuman report, “Empowering Workplace Culture Through Recognition,” recognition powers both thriving employees and organizations. In addition, the research shows that employees receiving great recognition are 20 times as likely to be engaged as employees who receive poor recognition.

Many studies by both government and private sector sources report “feeling unappreciated” is a major contributor to employee dissatisfaction and to leaving one’s job. Of course, other factors also contribute to employee dissatisfaction, like a lack of development and promotion opportunities, feeling underpaid, poor working conditions and more. Still, both recognition AND appreciation are tools that wise employers should steadily utilize as drivers of engagement.

Think of the last time someone expressed their appreciation to you. What words describe how you felt when you felt genuinely and authentically appreciated? Happy? Proud? Energized? Validated? Encouraged? Connected? Joyful? We can agree that all these feelings can be powerful motivators in our self-esteem and sense of being valued!

Now think of someone in your life — whether at work, home, social circle or community – to whom you might provide this same gift. If authentically and genuinely given, both recognition and appreciation can be incredibly meaningful.

Each of us can create a special moment for someone else.

One inspiration to me is this beautiful quote from Maya Angelou: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Knowing the impact that appreciation and recognition can have, I encourage each of us to make a point every day of expressing genuine and authentic gratitude to someone else. Be part of making a difference in someone’s day!

By Becky Rauen, Presbyterian Homes & Services senior vice president and chief human resources officer

Becky RauenBecky Rauen joined PHS in September 2023. She brings 25 years of experience in leading human resources in complex health care environments. She also currently serves as past president of the board of directors for the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration. Becky says, “One of the main reasons I chose PHS is because of the organization’s focus on Christian culture and the centrality of the employee experience to the mission of PHS.”

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