for a successful employee appreciation day, build on strengths

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Today, on Employee Appreciation Day, a new study has emerged that suggests what employers should be doing that would show their appreciation the best: Have meaningful discussions with employees about their strengths.

According to the study, conducted by positive psychology expert and author Michelle McQuaid and The VIA Institute on Character, one of the best ways to help employees feel they’re appreciated and are making a difference is to identify with them the things they’re really good at and enjoy doing, and the ways they can put these strengths to use in their work.

As it turns out, over the past decade employees have become increasingly interested in knowing and using their strengths at work. Since 2001, numbers have increased from 2 to 5 out of every 10 employees reporting that they have a chance to do the things they do best in their work.

But the news is not entirely good: two thirds of Millennial respondents feel under-appreciated by their bosses. Nearly half, 40%, say this makes them want to hit the snooze button and “put the pillow over their head” instead of heading to work. And another 10% hate their job entirely because of this lack of appreciation. What can leaders and managers do? The answer is simple, the study suggests: focus on employee strengths, not weaknesses.

In fact, employees who believe their managers can name their strengths are 71% more likely to feel engaged and energized by their work. And 78% of employees who report having had a meaningful discussion with their manager about their strengths feel that their work is making a difference and is appreciated. These employees are also the ones most likely (65%) to describe themselves at flourishing at work over the last six months.

“There is an important trend occurring in the American workplace that can be characterized as ‘moving from what’s wrong to what is strong’,” explains VIA Institute on Character chairman, Neal H. Mayerson. “Employees and managers are recognizing the importance of building on their strengths as an important pathway to better performance.”

Adds McQuaid: “If you want to turn disengaged employees around, sit down with them – Employee Appreciation Day is a great day to do it – and ask them when they feel the most energized and happy at work. Then focus on developing these strengths moving forward.”

The study identified the following facts:

•   Almost half of employees whose organizations are committed to building on their strengths say their supervisors are actively involved in their career progress and 45% are keenly aware of the strengths of their coworkers or boss.

•   Only 34% of supervisors can name the strengths of their employees and less than that (32%) are having meaningful discussions with their employees about their strengths

•   When an employee’s manager is primarily focused on their strengths, there’s just a 1% chance they won’t be engaged in their work.

With numbers like that, we can’t afford to not be having these conversations. If you need help getting started, ask your team to take a strengths assessment and then discuss the results with them. Be sure to take one yourself too.

By cheryl snapp conner
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