Imagine this scenario — Ankit starts his usual day by logging into his official email address. Instead of any task or project, he receives an e-mail of appreciation from his manager, for which he is delighted. He suddenly feels a sense of confidence rushing back. Realising that his boss is acknowledging his efforts, he feels contented and is all sorted to continue for the rest of the day.
It may sound like a normal exchange between an employee and a manager, but during such troubling times like the pandemic, it is a blessing in disguise.
In times of crisis, companies often tend to focus on the stress and strain of keeping the organisation together and afloat. Things would go smoother if employers start recognising and mostly acknowledging the efforts of their employees. In fact, it is even more important during times of struggle, to let the employees know how much they are appreciated.
“More than the organisations, the managers should be more appreciative on a daily basis. Today, however, the need is even more because the overall situation is very gloomy. There is a lot of uncertainty prevailing, and believe it or not, there is no good news on the way,” says Jayant Kumar, joint president- HR, Adani Group.
“For organisations, this period is a test of their loyalty. If they take care of employees during this crisis, employees will go beyond their limits to perform for the organisation. If not, tomorrow when the market re-opens, they will be the first to leave. Therefore, when the chips are down, it is important to take care of employees more than anytime else.”
Employees are constantly juggling between work and personal life within the four walls of their homes, which is a relatively new experience for them. Initially, it may have felt right to be away from office, chilling at home and work, but it has started to take a toll on everyone, especially employees.
“Under these challenging circumstances, leaders and managers in the organisation should create such conditions wherein people can succeed and achieve higher and better and then appreciate and reinforce their confidence,” advises Kumar.
Some people prefer monetary rewards, while others are happy with public acknowledgement. There are yet others, who would rather be rewarded with increased responsibilities or new opportunities, since these can often lead to promotions.
However, Ramesh Shankar, former EVP & head- HR, Siemens, believes that appreciation does wonders to people. He believes, “Appreciation is not just financial, in the form of compensation or benefits. Rather, non-financial appreciation is more effective in today’s scenario. Money cannot buy happiness. All employees need today is to be recognised and applauded for the effort they are putting.”
Secret to productivity
Recognising the hard work the team does can have a significant impact on their productivity. It is observed that employees work harder and with more drive when their efforts are recognised and appreciated. The more the focus on acknowledging employees’ hard work, the better the chances of keeping them happier and more committed to the company’s end goal.
As Kumar already mentioned, a lot of uncertainty prevails currently. Therefore, if adequate attention is given to appreciation and recognition of efforts, it can even bring in clarity and definiteness in the ecosystem, and thus increase the productivity of the employees. “Productivity comes with a mindset. As everyone is unsure of what is going to happen, a well thought out appreciation will bring clarity,” he explains.
“Appreciating employees will relieve them of anxiety. An anxious mind can never create excellence, and under such circumstances, we want our people to be better than what they used to be earlier. These situations demand higher efforts from the employees.”
Appreciation is not just mere words from an employer and an employee. In fact, it is a gesture shown during such critical times, such as the pandemic.
“When companies take care of employees during their difficult times, they respond with equal sincerity when companies themselves are in trouble. Organisations do not realise that this is an opportunity for them to take care of their employees. Once the employees feel better and are back in form, they will put in extra effort owing to that particular gesture bestowed upon them,” he elucidates.
Keeping anxiety at bay
The pandemic situation is taking a toll on people’s mental health. While for some it is a new experience, the rest are finding it even harder than ever before to deal with the stress and unease brought on by the new normal.
In Kumar’s words, “Appreciating employees will relieve them of anxiety. An anxious mind can never create excellence, and under such circumstances, we want our people to be better than what they used to be earlier. These situations demand higher efforts from the employees.”
“How can employees be expected to put in extra effort when their mind is constantly occupied with negative thoughts?” he questions.
While some fear loss of jobs, others have already seen pay cuts and deferred appraisals. The locking and unlocking of states have left employees feeling worried about their future. That is precisely why employers should never let go an opportunity to appreciate the goodness in their employees.
While the importance of feeling appreciated varies for different individuals, it is essential to the fostering of a positive relationship — be it at the workplace or at home.
On the flip side, if appreciation is absent, individuals are less likely to feel connected or motivated to invest themselves in that relationship.
According to Shankar, “For organisations, this period is a test of their loyalty. If they take care of employees during this crisis, employees will go beyond their limits to perform for the organisation. If not, tomorrow when the market re-opens, they will be the first to leave. Therefore, when the chips are down, it is important to take care of employees more than anytime else.”
It is during a crisis, or during sickness that employees need more love and care. Similarly, Shankar continues, “Employees need more appreciation and reassurance from the management during a pandemic, when businesses are not doing well. The feeling of insecurity and the fear of losing bonuses, increments, and jobs is even more during such times.”
Kumar aptly considers appreciation to be the lifeline in such a difficult situation.
“The only way is to appreciate the small and big things that people are able to do under such challenging circumstances. Hope brings light despite all darkness, and inability to create positivity and hope amongst the team members, will not only cause employees to suffer, but also organisations to lose,” concludes Kumar.