Hands making fist bump over desk

Is appreciation better than a pay rise?

​How much do we love to hear what a good job we’ve done?

Apparently, we love it more than we love a pay rise.  (Ok, that assumes we’ve already got enough to live on, and I know that unfortunately there are too many people who can’t say that. I don’t think that’s right, and we should do something about that. But that’s not the problem I’m working on today.)

A 2012 study at Berkeley university[1] found that while a pay rise briefly made us feel appreciated, a far better indication was the respect and admiration of our peers.  We do love a pay rise – let’s be honest, even if you’re not mainly motivated by money, a bit more is usually good.  However, the feel good factor soon wears off, and we get used to that extra income pretty quickly.  According to that study though, we never get used to feeling the respect and admiration of our peers.

What happens if we don’t get respect and admiration? A friend of mine used to work as a teaching assistant, working with children who had special needs, to help them integrate into mainstream education.   A worthwhile and rewarding job, you’d think.  And she did love the children, and enjoyed helping them with their schooling.  But the teachers in this particular school saw the job as low importance and she always felt that the head teacher didn’t value her contribution or that she was a useful member of the team.  Unsurprisingly, she eventually left.

Failure, burnout, stress, no motivation – these are all symptoms when you don’t feel appreciated at work.  They are common in jobs like call centre work, retail, low paid work.  And of course results in lots of stress and high turnover of staff.

So let me turn this around – if you’re a manager, how often do you show your appreciation for your team?  Do they feel respected and valued?  How many of your team have the respect and admiration of the rest of the team?

You might think you’re too busy to show appreciation.  But as a manager of staff, that’s a key element of your job.  And yes, I understand you need that too.  Which brings us to workplace culture.  If you have a culture of ‘too busy’, stressful, no time, don’t care about people, then you get what you deserve – people who are too busy to do a good job, people who are too stressed to give their best, people who will leave as soon as something that looks better comes along.

Call centres

​Even call centres can have a culture of looking after their staff. The Admiral Group is regularly named as one of the best places to work.  In his account of working part time at their Cardiff call centre, James Bloodworth says


‘…even dull jobs could be made bearable for the workforce without any real cost to employers.  Working in the retentions department of a car insurance firm was as dull as I had expected it to be.  Yet the company did make a serious effort to ensure that it was not the sort of workplace that, sat at home watching Coronation Street in the evening, you dreaded returning to the next day.  It was tolerable, and most of the staff I spoke to seemed if not to enjoy it then at least not to find it too oppressive, even if I thought they should be paid more.’​


Hired. Six months undercover in low-wage Britain, James Bloodworth (2018) Atlantic Books, London p1 185-6​​​


The more valued we feel, the better we work.  Those who regularly receive praise and thanks for a job well done are more likely to go the extra mile when it’s needed.

If you want to know how to change the culture in your workplace to one that fosters a culture of worth and appreciation, give me a call and we’ll talk about how Silvern Training can help.

Speak to Lindsay on 07976 816704

[1] Anderson, C et al ‘The Local-Ladder Effect: Social Status and Subjective Well-Being’, Psychological Science 23 (2012): 764-71.  Quoted in Friedman, R 2014 The Best Place to Work Penguin Group New York

About the Author Lindsay Milner

Lindsay is the owner of Silvern Training. Before that she had a very varied working life, doing everything from admin, volunteering, sales, teaching, training, fundraising, management and chairing a board of charity trustees. Now wants to change the world of work by improving workplace cultures so that people can look forward to Monday mornings. Also likes to support individuals to speak up, be better listeners and to take action.

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