Do you feel under appreciated? You’re probably not alone. In fact, the authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace cite that 70% of employees feel underappreciated. And Forbes tells us that 66% of us who feel unappreciated are likely to quit. As a result, government managers are increasingly charged with finding ways to recognize employees for their contributions. And, it seems that employees are increasingly told that they need to more proactively seek feedback to get the appreciation they desire.

As the emphasis on the need for appreciation and recognition rises, the lines between the two are becoming blurred. The result of this blurriness, unfortunately, is that appreciation and feedback are both losing their meaning.

We seem to be forgetting that they serve different purposes. But the problem is, when both the meaning and purpose of the two become interchangeable – then they become ineffective.

So if you’re among those 70% who feel underappreciated – I want you to think about what you really want.

Do you want to feel better about the work you’ve done. Or, do you want to get better at the work you will do in the future?

Now if you’re like me, your answer to those questions is probably: Both.

But, if you really think about it. That’s not really true.

Here’s how I know.

Imagine that you took the trash out, did the dishes, got the kids to bed early, and managed to get a hot meal on the table before your significant other got home.

Do you want to feel better about those accomplishments? Or, do you want to be told how to do those things better?

I don’t know about you – but I want to feel like my efforts are appreciated. And, if I didn’t feel appreciated, I’d probably feel…well, you can fill in whatever negative emotion you’d be feeling.

I would not want feedback on how to do those things more effectively.

Why would this be any different in the workplace?

Yet, employees are told to ask their supervisors for feedback – when what they really want is appreciation.

What is appreciation anyway?

As usual, when I write these posts I find it necessary to go back to the definition. So I looked up what appreciation really means to see if I could dig deeper into why we feel the need for it.

Appreciation means:

  • A full understanding of the situation
  • Understanding the worth, quality, or importance of something
  • Gratitude

Now think back to a time when you accomplished a significant project.

Did you feel like those who matter to you understood all that went on to get the project done (situation)? Was there an understanding of why this project was important to you, them, the agency? And, did they thank you (gratitude)?

If the answer is no to ANY of those questions, then you likely came away feeling unappreciated.

I realize that isn’t necessarily a shocking insight when you first read that. But go back to the part where I said ANY of those questions.

When one of those components is missing – the appreciation you receive (assuming any was given) can feel a little shallow or insincere. Or, as my colleague use to say: You just don’t get the feels.

Upcoming posts on appreciation

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll explore this topic of appreciation more. For instance, is this need for appreciation really a generational issue? And, when was the last time you told your supervisor that you appreciate them (and should you)?

In the meantime, check out a prior article from the Fedability 20 day happiness challenge where we talked about appreciating your coworkers – and gives you some tips for writing a really good thank you note.

Now, if what you really need is feedback – then check out our article for getting the feedback you need.