How Appreciation in the Workplace Promotes Mental Health: Four ways to create a happy and motivated team

Think back to your best work day ever. Did you have an exciting project breakthrough? Did your secret nemesis quit? (Shh, we won’t tell!) Or did something small and special happen, and someone shared how much they value your contributions? Appreciation in the workplace is a tiny thing that can have big consequences.

And why make appreciation in the workplace only for special occasions? In this guest blog post, our partners at Circula share four tips to make appreciation at work part of the status quo… and build a happy, motivated team along the way!

Happy and motivated team cover

57 per cent of employees feel unappreciated or only partially appreciated by their employer. This is a finding from the Circula Benefits Report, which surveyed 1,000 employees and 250 HR experts with the market research institute YouGov. At the same time, two thirds of companies face challenges with a lack of employee retention and increasing staff turnover.

Those who do not feel valued at their job are more likely to question the value of their work. The result: demotivation, stress, absenteeism and disengagement from the employer. Appreciation and recognition in the workplace are ultimately not only important factors for mental health and motivation, but also for employee retention.

The importance of appreciation in the workplace

It is important that organisations understand the impact that appreciation has on the wellbeing of their employees. A positive company culture that shows respect and appreciation for everyone in the organisation helps everyone feel comfortable and happy to come to work – or in other words, it increases employee engagement.

Through appreciation in the workplace, we experience recognition for our work, ideas and contributions. This feeling of appreciation not only strengthens our self-esteem, but also our motivation to continue to perform well. When we feel valued, we have the confidence that our opinions will be heard and that our contributions will have a positive impact on the company.

How appreciation in the workplace boosts mental health

A lack of appreciation can have a negative impact on our well-being and even lead to chronic stress. But how exactly are these two factors connected?

People who are regularly recognised tend to be less prone to stress than those without this positive feedback. When we feel appreciated, the body releases endorphins – hormones of happiness – which in turn can help to lower our cortisol levels (the so-called ‘stress hormone’). In this way, our reaction to potential stress is softened and we remain more relaxed. People with a higher level of perceived appreciation thus become more resilient to stressful situations, which prevents burnout symptoms.

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By consciously appreciating others, we can not only promote their mental health, but also reduce our own stress levels and thus contribute to a positive atmosphere. 

With these 4 actions, you can lay the foundation for a company culture of appreciation:

1. Communication and feedback as an expression of appreciation

Communication and feedback are essential for an appreciative working environment. When employees feel that their opinions are heard and valued, they feel respected and motivated. 

It is important that management teams speak to their employees regularly and give them the opportunity to give feedback and raise issues. One way to do this is through regular one-to-one meetings or team meetings. Praise and recognition for good performance should also be an integral part of communication.

2. Involvement in decision-making processes

An essential part of promoting appreciation in the workplace is to actively involve employees in decision-making processes. This shows employees that you respect and value their opinions and ideas. When people feel that their input is important and that they can make a contribution, they feel valued and recognised.

Management should therefore hold regular meetings or use online communication solutions to ensure that everyone in the organisation has a voice. These measures not only help to find better solutions, but also strengthen trust between employees and managers. 

It is important to emphasise that this type of involvement is not about handing over control to employees or taking decisions out of their hands. Rather, it is about ensuring that everyone involved can share their knowledge and thus jointly contribute to the success of the company.

3. Personal development and further training promote motivation in the workplace

An important step towards a happy and motivated team is the promotion of personal development and further training. Giving your employees the opportunity to expand their knowledge and find new solutions not only shows respect for the individual, but also for the job itself. 

It is important to understand how each individual wants to develop and improve their skills. Budgets for further training as well as internal training can support both individuals in their specialisations and the team as a whole. Praise and recognition for the application of new knowledge is just as important as the knowledge itself.

4. Rewarding gestures to the entire team with the right benefits

At company level, gifts and other rewarding gestures are a good way of expressing appreciation. The right employee benefits create this effect throughout the year and for as many employees as possible. Often, companies offer benefits that employees don’t find attractive and miss the mark.

“Every person in the company is an individual with their own wants and needs. The times when these were put on the back burner are over. From an HR team’s point of view, it is extremely time-consuming to analyse all individual wishes and respond to them. That’s why I recommend creating offers in areas of life that affect everyone: Everyone eats lunch, everyone needs some form of mobility and everyone needs a basic level of everyday purchases. A digital tool like Circula can enable this range and reduce the effort for HR to almost zero.” Riaan Stipp, VP Product at Circula

Engage with your teams to find out where there is particular interest. Check whether the benefit is well received every time you introduce it. Only then will your gesture really be well received.

Tip: Some benefits are tax-optimised and are suitable for net salary optimisation. This saves both employers and employees money.


The positive effect of appreciation on the team and its productivity cannot be underestimated. Employees who feel valued are more motivated and more committed to their work. They come up with innovative solutions and contribute to the company’s success. 
Each company must find out individually which measures are suitable for its employees. Circula offers tax-optimised employee benefits that can be flexibly tailored to the needs of your team.

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