Overcoming The Encouragement Deficit

There is an encouragement deficit in most workplaces. In their book, 12 The Elements of Great Managing, Gallup’s Wagner and Harter note:

“In the perception of employees generally, praise is painfully absent from most companies and the workgroups within themLess than one in three employees can give a strongly positive answer to the statement, ‘In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.’  At any given company, it’s not uncommon to find between one-fifth and one-third of the people disagreeing with the item, as if to say, ‘Not only have I not received any praise recently; my best efforts are routinely ignored.’”



Gallup’s research also indicates that a lack of encouragement has a powerful impact.  For instance, ‘employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they will leave their company in the next year.’

Conversely, Gallup’s research also demonstrates that encouragement has a profound positive impact. In fact, praise and recognition can account for a ‘…10-20% difference in productivity and revenue, and thousands of loyal customers to most large organizations.’ 

With the biblical mandate to be encouragers and the statistical evidence, encouragement cannot be ignored in today’s operating environment. Here are some practical ideas to help you in the art of encouragement:

  • Embrace Your Role – If you are a leader of people, you need to be an encourager of people. It’s part of your role. It’s not an option. It’s also not something you can delegate – numerous studies show that employees want to be encouraged by their own supervisor.
  • Encourage Individually – Recognize that not everyone has the same encouragement ‘language’. Gary Chapman has recently applied his simple ‘five love languages’ concept to the workplace (see The Five Languages of Appreciation for the Workplace). Do team members appreciate cards and letters?  Monetary rewards? Special treats? Time off? Greater autonomy or responsibility? Time with you?  If in doubt, just ask.
  • Encourage Specifically –  Blanket encouragement is better than no encouragement, but try to celebrate specific characteristics or contributions.
  • Encourage Regularly – Don’t neglect encouragement and then back the proverbial ‘truck’ up to dump overwhelming encouragement on someone. Look for ways – even small ways – to encourage people regularly.

Studies show that there is positive physiological impact from encouragement and particularly unexpected spur-of-the-moment boosts. So, be sensitive to impromptu opportunities to encourage. Picking up specialty coffee for the team, a verbal encouragement while making rounds of the office or unexpectedly giving out a dinner and/or movie coupon can have a powerful effect.

  • A Birthday Idea – Use birthday celebrations as opportunities for encouragement.  For instance, ask the team to share what they appreciate about the birthday person and their role on the team.  Then ask the birthday person for a word/phrase that the team could pray for them – and then pray.  For larger teams, schedule a day each month to celebrate all birthdays that month – and ask departments to provide the specific appreciation.
  • Celebrations – Plan celebrations to highlight accomplishments, milestones, birthdays, etc.  If you aren’t a party planner – recruit and empower someone who is gifted in this area.  But, be very careful not to delegate out all the encouraging – your people need and deeply want to be encouraged by you.

How do you encourage those you lead? What’s worked for you?  Please comment on this post and share your ideas!