Life Motivation: Do you feel that your work matters?

Life Motivation: Do you feel that your work matters?

Before I left my last company I took a while to thank everyone for the great job they’ve been doing and I’ve added a few personal words to each of them to appreciate their input into changing other people’s life. The result was far from one expected. It led some people to tears.

Nobody told me this for a long time. I really needed it. Thank you!

Have I used any kind of special speech? Not at all. This is what I’ve said:

  • What you do is really seen and recognized by…
  • I admire the way you…
  • I’m impressed by what you…
  • I learned a lot from you…
  • Time spent with you was a source of inspiration for me...

I realized how little time do we spend on rewarding people for their dedication. And I’m not talking about a financial reward, but about a few words of showing that what you do matters. I believe this is the core of our motivation. Feeling that my job has a positive impact. That I change the world for a better place. That I help people to become better themselves. Even if I know the value of my work, I need to hear it from someone once upon a time. It gives me a sense of fulfillment knowing that what I do is useful for others.

I remember my first job. I’ve started it full of motivation and ready to change the world. To give my best. To dedicate all my energy to make the company progress. To my surprise, all my efforts were considered vain. They hired me not having a real plan on how to boost the results and they were not interested in my ideas. One day, when I tried to propose a new enhancement, I’ve heard:

It’s a waste of electricity. Just do what you’re supposed to do.

I felt like I was losing my potential while I could have been moving mountains. After some time, each of the employees started to ask for a salary raise as the number of assigned responsibilities was constantly growing up. I came to ask for a salary raise as well. And then I’ve heard a question which completely killed my motivation to work there:

But what are you actually doing?

I felt like all I’ve been doing didn’t make any sense to anybody. It didn’t matter. Nobody cared. At that time, money was not a priority for me. A single word of appreciation would make me happy to such extent that I would have not even thought to ask for any salary increase.

I asked myself:

Find one reason why you should stay where you are now.

I couldn’t. That was over and every next day spent in that place was reassuring me that I ought to quit it as soon as possible.

Over the course of time, I realized that the most important kind of appreciation is when someone believes in you. I had a few people in my life who believed in me which gave the strength to reach for more. To exceed my limits. That was a super-powerful experience to have someone who saw in you more than you have ever seen before. Who told you: “Go, I know you can do it!“. How energizing it was to double the efforts and find the solutions which seemed to not exist. It’s like someone gave you the wings and pushed you to fly. No money will ever make you fly so high.

It seems that it’s not only my experience. The studies conducted by on more than 19 million employees over the past 13 years proved that people don’t consider pay as the highest and the most satisfactory form of reward. What counts the most for employees and motivates them is feeling appreciated.

What does it feel to be appreciated? enlists 5 elements of being appreciated:

  • we’re being valued
  • we’re being seen
  • we’re being liked
  • it deepens a sense of meaning in our lives
  • it connects us

Doug Claffey says that the simplest and the most effective form of appreciation is positive feedback or praise. It doesn’t have to come from higher rank to a lower one. The appreciation can and should be shared also among the peer group. It doesn’t require a big speech. It doesn’t require a special occasion. Every day is a great opportunity to tell someone: “Hey, thank you for what you’re doing“. This is what improves job satisfaction the most.

Appreciating doesn’t come naturally for most of us. People with low esteem will unlikely share positive comments about the achievements of other people. A good exercise to start with is to implement a daily routine of appreciating our own achievements. Regardless of their size, small or big, they should be a reason of primary reward. Consequently, it gets easier to spot and value the accomplishments of people around us.

Take time today to appreciate someone for something you take for granted.

Do you expect your work to be appreciated? What kind of rewards is the most satisfying for you?

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7 thoughts on “Life Motivation: Do you feel that your work matters?”

  • To answer the question from your title – Yes and No.
    Yes, I know that without me, there would be many things that would fall apart.
    No, because I think that many people take it for granted.

    Yes, I like the monetary incentive. I’d like it to reflect the amount and quality of my work. It does not. However, you are right – people not being verbally appreciate are aggravating. I think I could go without being praised if they didn’t push their limits with me and ask for more without saying thank you.

    • That’s the clue of the matter: people push our limits and ask for more without saying thank you what causes kind of frustration. While we could do more and more, willingly, for the simple fact we’re appreciated.

      I’ve been working as well in a company where I knew that many things would fall apart if I leave. However, I couldn’t stand anymore that it’s not only taken for granted but also overused.

      How do you manage to stay in that place? What motivates you?

      • 1. I really hate looking for a new job/going through the motions of getting hired.
        2. I have a somewhat flaxible schedule, which I know might not be avalable to me elsewhere.
        3. I like my boss. Again, while I know there’s more good bosses, I might also end up in a place where a boss is a walking nightmare.
        4. I am mostly left to my own devices. If I was to closely work with several people on a regular basis, chances are I could run into drama.
        5. I hope for opportunities to move within the company in the coming year.

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