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If you’ve ever cried at work, it turns out you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. According to Monster, 80 percent of us have cried at work.

But why are so many of us shedding secret tears? According to a new survey from my company, enterprise gifting platform Snappy, a lack of appreciation may be to blame.

Employees should feel good where they spend nearly half their lives, but roughly one out of three respondents to our survey said they have cried at work because they felt unappreciated. That makes sense: Everyone wants to feel like they’re making an impact at their job and being recognized for their efforts. The tears could easily be avoided if companies put more thought into employee appreciation.

When Employees Are Down, Your Culture Suffers

When employees feel the need to bring out the tissue boxes, not only can it put a damper on the work environment, but it can also wreak havoc on your company culture as a whole, leading to higher turnover rates and decreased motivation.

According to Gallup, only a third of US workers strongly agree that they have received recognition for doing good work in the past week, and those employees who do not feel recognized are twice as likely to want to quit their jobs in the next year. On the flip side, those employees who do receive recognition feel a greater sense of accomplishment, and they also feel more valued at work. This has significant benefit for the company: To quote Gallup, “Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.”

One way to make sure employees feel appreciated this holiday season is by giving them gifts. Snappy found that 8 out of 10 employees would feel more appreciated and motivated during the holiday season if their employers gave them holiday gifts.

But it can’t be just any gift. According to Snappy’s survey, 77 percent of employees would rather choose their gift than have a gift picked out for them, and nearly as many (72 percent) would like their employers to stay away from gifting company-branded items. Workers much prefer to receive personalized gifts over cookie-cutter ones like water bottles or mugs with company logos on them.

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Managers who can’t decide what to give their employees often take the gift card route, but 79 percent of Snappy’s survey respondents said receiving a gift card is less meaningful than a gift. Managers often hope employees will be happy with the ability to choose whatever gift they want, but they fail to realize that gift cards put a price tag on the recipient’s value. When you hand an employee a $25 gift card, you run the risk of sending the message that all their  hard work is only worth $25 to you.

When considering how much (or how little) thought is put into giving a gift card, it’s unsurprising that $1 billion per year is spent on unused gift cards. Often, we forget who gave us the gift card in the first place, or we lose it only to find it months later wedged in between couch cushions. Either way, a gift card conveys little to no long term appreciation from manager to employee. Failing to adequately convey recognition with an office holiday gift is a huge missed opportunity, given that managers should be looking to deliver appreciation whenever and wherever they can.

Keep the Appreciation Going All Year Long

In a 2018 Snappy survey, 96 percent of respondents agreed that recognition in the workplace leads to a stronger company culture. With record-low unemployment rates, organizations need to put employee appreciation and company culture front and center in order to attract top candidates and retain talented employees already on staff.

If a lack of appreciation is a problem at your company, it might be time to consider implementing a formal employee recognition program to help address the issue. Appreciation can be expressed in more ways than end-of-year gifts, and companies would do well to stay up to date with current trends in the benefits and rewards space. There are countless holidays throughout the year focused on recognition and appreciation; celebrating just a few of them can give you a simple and effective way to put your employees’ hard work in the spotlight year-round.

It is difficult to ensure every team member feels the recognition they deserve, especially for companies with a large number of employees on staff. When managers show their employees they care with individual, personalized gifts, your workers will feel more valued — and more motivated to perform at their best.

Hani Goldstein is CEO and cofounder of Snappy.

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