Why appreciation is the most basic human need at work


Not long ago, I got into a tense debate with some colleagues on this topic. It noticed that I badly wanted to be appreciated for every assignment done whether home or at work, and to me it (appreciation) spoke volumes.

During the festive season, I laboured to prepare for visitors a delicious meal – a  buffet dinner. It cost over five hours of concentration in the kitchen as if I was doing a Home Economics practical exam. All I got was an unceremonious “thanks” on their way out!

I was gravely disappointed. What a waste of time! How on earth could somebody not recognize my efforts and skills?

Whom do I blame for this disappointment? Definitively my parents  imparted the art and skill for appreciating people.  It was  unthinkable not to appreciate people for any good deed in my family.

Management scholars and professors have taught us Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; but I have come to conclude that one more need was left out – appreciation. It is as basic as sleep, clothes, food and shelter. It is a basic human need, which scholars and researchers need to add to their findings in the 21st century.

But what is appreciation? And is it of any importance anyway?

Appreciation is the recognition of the magnitude, significance, value or quality of things or people.

As far as employment is concerned, appreciating colleagues confirms that their work is being valued.

When employees and their work are appreciated, the result is greater productivity.

Usually organisations reward best-performing employees on weekly, monthly or annual basis. What a joy to be appreciated in that way!

For a long time, we have regarded money as the reward that expresses appreciation. It’s just common in the present corporate world for employers to treat their employees to notes, gifts, lunches, dinners or snacks.

Irrespective of salary raises, bonus structure, benefits, and others, not being appreciated drives employees to leave their jobs.  Human resource professionals often say, “People don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors.” The greatest loss in any institution is the employee who withdraws internally yet present externally, who no longer feels valued that it is not even worth their stay at that place of work.

The culture of appreciation should be cultivated by all supervisors as an effort to add to profitability of an organisation. Worth noting is the fact that the most valuable asset of any organization are its employees and this has a positive effect on Return on Investment (ROI).

“Value for money” is now common and part of the corporate jargon. But an employer gets what he rewards.  An employee who is praised for their efforts usually exceeds their expectations.

After appreciation, new ideas are birthed in relation to the already existing, and in return more praises are accumulated. When one is appreciated, it is evident in their way of operations. Positive emotions will definitely flow, more self-esteem, happiness and the end result is built social relations.

On the contrary, lack of appreciation causes feelings of incompetence which can easily affect work relations.

A ‘thank you’ to your colleagues doesn’t have to be a gigantic demonstration. It starts with one person before it transforms into an organisational culture. Bearing in mind that people do work with people, having a well-built appreciative culture will be evidenced with everybody’s operations and interaction with clients.

The writer is the Career Development and Placement Officer

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