Are your employees expressing appreciation for each other’s work? Some time ago, I began to wonder whether my co-workers were saying those important two words: Thank you.  After all, as author Margaret Cousins wrote, “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”

While employees are certainly motivated by money, 99.4% of those surveyed seek simple praise, according to Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

I wanted to find out if my co-workers agreed that creating an environment where efforts were met with praise would help team members feel better. So I set out to create a program that would encourage Davis & Company’s employees to give and receive praise.

Here’s how it worked

Feedback: I scheduled informal discussions with my co-workers to gather their perspectives. I learned the program needed to be easy, non-competitive and not at all stressful.

Concept: Based on the feedback, I created a program called “Props to My Peeps,” which worked like this:

  • Kathleen Lota, one of our senior graphic designers, created a display board with a colorful, upbeat look. We posted the board in a visible and highly trafficked location.
  • Each staff member started with a set of five cards that he or she could use to recognize a co-worker—a heart, a star, a thumbs-up, a sun and a “You rock.” Each card included space for both the sender’s and recipient’s names as well as enough space for a personal message.
  • Every time a team member posted a card on the display board, he or she received a raffle ticket. We told employees there would be a prize drawing, at the end of the program, but no one knew what that prize would be.
  • To encourage everyone to continue, I posted quotes on a weekly basis on our company’s social network platform, Yammer. Two of my favorite quotes:
    • “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” 
    • “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

Here’s how it was received
This “wall of appreciation” soon filled up. Co-workers were quick to write notes to one another for a variety of reasons, including a job well done, a deadline met, a delicious dessert shared, etc. It was gratifying when several staff members asked me for additional cards!


I received wonderful feedback from my co-workers. Some of the recognition cards pinned to the display board were addressed to me, thanking me for launching Props to My Peeps. Co-workers commented on the ease of the program, saying they had fun and enjoyed the light-hearted approach. They were happy to say something nice to someone else by writing messages that were positive and uplifting. They remembered to acknowledge one another with a “thank you.”

The pilot program ended after five months. At that time, one raffle ticket was drawn during a staff meeting and one employee was surprised with a rugged, stylish YETI bag.

Did we transform our culture at Davis & Company during those five months? Some felt better about coming to work. Most felt appreciated. The workplace became more positive, which made it easier for people to work together and do a better job.

In retrospect, I don’t know if the raffle tickets were necessary. Although some sort of cash value gift was cited as a great motivator for a positive workplace, simple praise may in fact be just as motivating.

An interesting observation on my part was the realization that as much as employees valued receiving praise, our staff seem to enjoy giving praise just as much, if not more so. The next time a co-worker helps you with a project or holds the door open for you and smiles, remember, a simple “thank you” could change that person’s entire day.

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