Thought Leadership

How To Build A Culture Of Appreciation That Goes Beyond Salary

We ran a Global Salary Planning survey with over 500 participating organizations and the median pay increase for the UK was 5%. Some organizations have given an additional one-off cost of living payment instead of a pay rise.


While most organizations are unable to provide inflationary pay increases, they can focus on building a culture where colleagues appreciate and support each other. 


Here are 3 ways for employers to build a culture of appreciation that goes beyond salary:  


1. Be transparent with employees  

In the Global Salary Planning report, we found that of the companies using salary ranges, only 24% published them. This is likely to start to change, as more and more employees are seeking transparency from their organizations. This doesn’t have to mean we share everyone’s salary, particularly if it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But we have to start giving employees context around how and why pay decisions are made. Demonstrating that there is a fair and equitable process, sharing overall pay ranges and how pay will progress as we progress our careers. 


There’s research from a company called Payscale in the US which indicated that satisfaction rates were low for a group of employees that were paid below the market. However, when the leaders explain the reason for this their satisfaction rates doubled. So even when people are paid below the market, pay transparency can have a really positive impact and it doesn’t cost anything. 


With so much potential and an increasing number of employees seeking transparency, it’s surprising that more organizations are not going down this route and being more open and honest with employees.


2. Build a culture of trust


There are many reasons people are unhappy at work. A poor relationship with your manager, team members or office politics? Whatever the reason, it usually has something to do with a lack of trust. To find fulfillment in the workplace and avoid having a case of the Mondays, we need relationships built on trust.


How do we build trust in the workplace? Where do we start? Pay transparency is one key step to avoiding any kind of secrecy in the workplace, and having a clear visibility on career progression is just as important. 

Increasingly, the world of work is focusing less on hierarchical structures and more on skills, capabilities and experiences. Employers will need to show clear career progression opportunities to attract and retain talent. A job-leveling framework can help you respond to what your employees are asking for, setting clear expectations and career-path visibility. Employees want to know where they stand within an organization and how they can progress. Job leveling offers an explicit route forward, so employees can aspire to their next role.

Giving everyone clear visibility on progression within your organization will help avoid confusion among employees about their value within an organization if they have not yet felt they have moved up the ladder, so to speak, and avoid anyone feeling overlooked and unappreciated.

3. Recognise achievements

We all like to feel valued and appreciated. A job well done deserves recognition, whether it consists of a pat on the back or winning an award. In fact, recognising achievements is one of the best ways to improve employee engagement.

Effective recognition could be anything from saying a quick thank you after a productive meeting to applauding someone via email and copying their manager. There’s so much opportunity to experiment with different types of gifts, formal and informal recognition, and even public recognition through newsletters and award ceremonies.

It’s great to have formal recognition programmes with monthly, quarterly or annual awards for achievements or behaviors. Ultimately, though, it’s the spontaneous everyday conversations that will make the biggest difference in making employees feel valued. 


While pay is an important factor in making them feel valued, our overall organizational culture needs to align with pay and appreciation needs to be felt on various levels. Through creating a culture of trust and transparency and demonstrating appreciation in the day to day, employees will feel valued.  


About the author

Rameez Kaleem is the founder and managing director at reward consultancy 3R Strategy, and author of A Case of the Mondays. With his team at 3R Strategy, he helps businesses build a culture of trust through pay transparency. 3R Strategy recently released their Global Salary Planning Report, with data from more than 500 companies on the salary budgeting process. It is available to download for free online.