Improving Staff Retention with Authentic Appreciation

Improving Staff Retention

Retaining quality employees (whether full-time, part-time or contract) is essential to the health of a service-oriented business. Staff turnover is one of the most non-productive business expenses in the spa industry. The loss of productivity, relational damage with clients, negative impact on staff morale, and additional training time all create significant costs for employers. Research has shown that one of the primary reasons employees quit their jobs is that they don’t feel valued or appreciated. Although approximately 90 percent of businesses now have employee recognition programs, job satisfaction and employee engagement have been declining at the same time. Communicating authentic appreciation is different than using a “going through the motions” approach to employee recognition.

Keys to helping employees feel truly valued, without having to spend a lot of money, include:

  1. Personal communication fitted to the individual rather than general communication across the organization. The critical aspect is the sense by the recipient that you mean what you say and what you say is about them specifically about them, rather than giving a generic compliment to the whole team.
  2. Speak the language of the person you are encouraging. By language, I mean that each of our colleagues is encouraged in a different way. We must try to hit the target for the recipient. For example, while verbal praise is meaningful to some, others believe words are cheap, and would prefer a simple gift or time to talk. There are five categories, or languages: words of appreciation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and appropriate physical touch.
  3. Expressions of appreciation people value most cost little money. Sure, everyone would love a bonus or raise but, for most organizations, that is not possible. Based on the categories above, here are some tangible ways to help employees feel valued:
  • Write a note complimenting them on handling a difficult situation well.
  • Stop by a colleague’s workstation and ask how they are doing.
  • Give a meaningful gift certificate to an employee after a long workweek.
  • Celebrate by giving a high five or pat on the back to a co-worker after they have made a big sale or completed a strenuous training.
  • Think of a simple thing you could do that would lighten the load of an overwhelmed employee or co-worker.

To help identify each employee’s preferred appreciation language and actions that will “hit the mark” for them, we have developed an online assessment, the Motivating by Appreciation Inventoryas well as a group profile for your whole team.

None of these actions necessary to communicate appreciation cost much money. The key is to use the right action, with the right person, at the right time, with a sincere spirit of appreciation. Then your actions will hit the target to encourage those with whom you work, keeping them engaged and employed longer.