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The Power of Appreciation, Acknowledgement, and Gratitude

Certificates come in handy for different occasions and can have different designs (as my extensive collection of free certificate templates proves!). What unites them is the shared purpose — showing appreciation, acknowledgment, and gratitude. Separately and cumulatively, this trifecta of emotions carries unique power both for the giver and the receiver.

Appreciation as a Motivational Gesture

By recognizing and appreciating good work, we get confirmation that our effort is valued. When that’s the case, we are more included to replicate our actions, perform better, and feel more satisfied with our day-to-day life.

In our personal lives, acts of appreciation help us develop better self-esteem, grow our confidence, and be more content. That’s why award certificates feel so special.

Among employees, regular gestures of appreciation from the upper-standing result in higher engagement levels, better performance, and corporate loyalty. According to Gallup data, the most memorable appreciation comes the most often from:

  • 28% – employee’s manager
  • 24% – c-suite leader or CEO
  • 12% – manager’s manager
  • 10% – customer
  • 9% – peers

For these reasons, many companies issue regular employee of the month certificates and entice other types of recognition to staff members.

Acknowledgment As a Means of Validation

Acknowledgment is a gesture of validating one’s effort, contribution, and impact. Essentially, you are indicating to the person “I see you and I know what you are doing”. Small, daily acts of acknowledgment are key to building a motivated workforce, a loyal customer base, or an engaged group of students.

After all, not all effort will lead to the desired outcome. Sometimes we fail even if we try hard. Acknowledgment, unlike general appreciation and direct praise, often helps re-assure the person that their actions (successful or not) still mattered and were taken into account.

At the workplace, regular acts of acknowledgment can help:

  • Prevent unhealthy competition among staff members
  • Poor results under-reporting or aggregation
  • De-incentivize self-protective behaviors like information hoarding
  • Promote greater diversity in ideas and actions, leading to innovation

Among students, acknowledgment can serve as an alternative motivational mechanism to grades and public praise. It can help re-engage lagging students to keep trying to do better, one step at a time. Such gestures can help the students discover a sense of purpose in their educational pursuits (beyond earning passing test scores).

Gratitude as a Mechanism for Happiness

The feeling of gratitude activates our hypothalamus – an element of the brain that controls functions such as eating and sleeping. This area also produces dopamine –  the happiness hormone. In other words: the feeling of gratitude triggers our brain into a “happy mode”.

Numerous studies have proved this phenomenon. For example, a group of university students was asked to write gratitude letters for 4 weeks. Then they were surveyed on their mental state. Compared to participants who wrote primarily about negative experiences, the “gratitude group” reported better mental health for 12 weeks after the exercise had ended.

Another study assessed how gratitude affects fundraising efforts. One group of fundraisers called up donors the usual way over the phone. Another group first received a pep talk from the director who thanked them for their efforts. Then tasked to do the fundraising calls during the next week. The “appreciated group” made 50% more fundraising calls, compared to their peers.

The bottom line: showing appreciation to people around you — as a “thank you note” or in the form of a gift certificate — makes both parties feel happier. Plus, appreciated people are more motivated to do their best work.

Celebrate Others with Certificates

Gratitude, appreciation, and acknowledgment don’t require grand gestures. It’s consistency that matters. Moderate your behavior to give credit when credit is due, praise others around you and take notice of their efforts more frequently.

And if you want to reinforce your verbal praise, grab and customize a certificate template. SmashingDocs has some fabulous choices for: