Think back to the last time you felt truly appreciated at work — whether you got a thoughtful email from a peer about a recent project, a shoutout from your manager about an accomplishment, or even a note from a senior leader — it felt really great, right? And it likely motivated you to do your best going forward, because you want to repeat that feeling.
One of the most critical roles of the HR function is to make sure that feeling of appreciation, recognition, and accomplishment is part of every employee’s experience in the workplace. But it can be hard to know where to start when creating a culture of appreciation, or to keep up the momentum when there’s a lot going on (like these exciting HR holidays). But we’ve got the inspiration and motivation you need right here — keep reading!
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Why Employee Appreciation Matters
Employees who get regular appreciation are happier and more loyal — it’s very motivating to feel that your hard work is seen and valued by your peers, manager, and leadership team.
And employee appreciation and recognition has benefits beyond just creating positive feelings in the workplace too. 87% of HR professionals say that recognition improves relationships at work, and 56% agree it supports recruitment efforts too.
Overall, employee appreciation is a vital part of your HR strategy — a culture of appreciation and recognition doesn’t just happen on its own. That’s why we’ve curated this list of the 17 most inspirational quotes about employee appreciation for your HR team.
The Best Employee Appreciation Quotes
These motivational quotes about employee appreciation will inspire and uplift your human resources team even during the busy or tough times, and enable you to create a company culture that’s positive and productive.
1. “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” – Sam Walton
The founder of Walmart knows what it takes to be a great leader, which includes creating a culture where employee recognition flows freely.
2. “Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” – Zig Ziglar
These three prime needs form the foundation of employee engagement — if you have all three, your employees will be happier and retention will be higher.
3. “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” – Sir Richard Branson
The employee experience is vital because it directly impacts the customer experience — unhappy employees will pass that feeling onto the customers they serve.
4. “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey
If your employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re likely to pass that feeling on to your customers — after all, they’re the public face of your business.
5. “When someone comes along who genuinely thanks us, we will follow that person a very long way.” – Alan Loy McGinnis
Great leaders know that people will follow them because of how they make them feel, and there’s no more powerful motivator than appreciation and genuine recognition. Use employee spotlights, a strong recognition and reward program, and regular shoutouts to employees after a job well done to build this kind of loyal culture.
6. “The only way to do great work is to do what you love.” – Steve Jobs
A company’s success depends on high levels of employee engagement, which means employees need to feel a connection to the work they do.
7. “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” – Mary Kay Ash
You might know that you appreciate the hard work of your employees and team members, but do they know that? Don’t assume they do — tell them frequently.
8. “A culture is strong when people work with each other, for each other. A culture is weak when people work against each other, for themselves.” – Simon Sinek
In a culture where recognition and appreciation are scarce, your employees might work against each other to get that recognition. But if everyone feels seen and valued, it’s easier to work together towards a common goal.
9. “At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy
Your top performers are the ones who are going to achieve great things for your company, more than any strategy, so how are you encouraging them to stick around? Appreciation is a good start.
10. “Hire character. Train skill.” – Peter Schutz
Hiring people for their skills can work, but the skills needed for success change over time. Hiring instead for soft skills and character, and committing to train people on hard skills as needed, means you’ll have the employees needed no matter what direction your company takes.
11. “In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The former first lady knew the critical importance of feeling needed and valued, at work and in life. Celebrate the great employees who stay with you by celebrating every work anniversary and other meaningful milestones.
12. “Keeping customers is about the experience, and the employees control the culture and temperature of the business. Never forget that.” – Steve Wynn
As a hospitality leader, Wynn knows that creating an incredible customer experience begins with creating a great work environment for employees (and recognizing and appreciating employees plays a big part!).
13. “In order to build a rewarding employee experience, you need to understand what matters most to your people.” – Julie Bevacqua
How do your employees like to be recognized and appreciated? Everyone has different preferences, so adjusting your recognition program accordingly makes it feel more rewarding.
14. “Even a brief interaction can change the way people think about themselves, their leaders, and the future. Each of those many connections you make has the potential to become a high point or a low point in someone's day.” – Doug Conant
Small moments of appreciation matter just as much as big moments, particularly when they come from senior leadership. Don’t underestimate those little gestures of thanks.
15. "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." – Andrew Carnegie
When an entire team is aligned to a goal they know they can contribute to, that’s a recipe for high employee engagement and employee motivation.
16. “If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don't have to manage them.” – Jack Welch
Welch knew how critical it was to have good employees who are motivated to succeed on their own and don’t need to be micromanaged (though they do need to be paid well and appreciated!).
17. “Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.” – Tom Hopkins
Recognition doesn’t happen on its own — you need to encourage your HR team, managers, and leaders to always have an eye out for good work, a strong work ethic, and accomplishments that might have otherwise flown under the radar.
Creating a Culture of Employee Appreciation
These quotes can do much more than just make you feel good in the moment. They can help keep your HR team focused on the long-term goal of changing your company culture for the better, and sharing them with managers and leaders can help that positive culture spread too. It’s one more step towards building a more positive and productive workplace.
Want to make recognizing and appreciating employees easier and more effective? (That means your whole organization is likely to show appreciation more often, which is essential to a culture of recognition.) Cooleaf is here to help — you can connect, celebrate, and motivate employees all in one easy-to-use platform. Learn more about our recognition and rewards solutions.