Want to excel in service? Focus on creating a culture of appreciation

This blog post discussing the culture of appreciation, originally appeared on LinkedIn published by the ISS People & Culture Director for Baltic Countries Helo Tamme .


About Helo Tamme

Helo Tamme is the People & Culture Director at ISS for Baltic countries. Through her more than 9 years with ISS, Helo has been involved in different People related topics starting from Recruitment finishing with Diversity Management. Helo has been active locally both as speaker and writer; she is HR lecturer and has her own recruitment blog. In 2017 she also wrote a chapter at Humar Resources Handbook about Recruitment and Selection. She also holds HR Manager level 7 certificate.


For a HR professional, like myself, there is nothing more important than to ensure employee engagement, satisfaction, development and recognition.

Yet on a daily basis, reading through magazines, research and business journals – something tells me that my job is far from being fulfilled.

Not a day goes by, where I don’t hear opinion leaders talking about the worrying low levels of employee engagement, lack of motivation and the employer’s inability to create satisfactory working environments.

This is followed by even more opinion leaders trying their best, to provide us with strategies and tips to improve all the important employee engagement metrics. We need to be more transparent in our way of communicating, we certainly need to step up our training methods and we need to create a workplace that is inclusive for diverse employees.

I agree. We sure needs to be better at mastering all of these things. Yet I’m often left thinking, that beneath all these valuable strategies and buzzwords - there is something so simple that we tend to forget.

Namely – saying “Thank you”!

Celebrate your hero

It’s such a cliché, I know. Yet, from my experience – the presence or absence of these words is what truly can make or break all your engagement metrics.
During Service with a Human Touch workshop in ISS we use following quota when teaching our managers:

Good performance if not noticed, will go away.
Poor performance if not noticed, is there to stay.

For me this says it all. If you do your best, every single day, but nobody notices your effort then understandably you’ll reach a point where you’ll be left thinking; so what’s the point? On the other hand, feeling like your efforts are noticed, even if it’s just the minor things, you sure will be motivated to walk that extra mile and provide even better service.

Educate your manager

So how to establish a culture of appreciation? I believe that it all starts with the front-line manager or the employee supervisor.
At ISS, we know from own research, that by a clear margin, our employees feel that the quality of management and supervision is the most important factor in promoting engagement with their work.

Our internal findings also support the conclusion of many studies into employee engagement; higher levels of engagement are typically found in employees whose direct managers exhibit more relationship-oriented behavior.

That is also why we in our leadership, prioritize supervisors and managers to be highly visible, to be very accessible, to have increased face-time with employees and to notice and recognize the employee performance and efforts.

Reinforce the culture of appreciation

To continuously reinforce the culture of appreciation and actively engage our managers and customers to recognize the efforts of our front-line employees, we have furthermore created, what we like to call, an Apple Award Programme.

Our Apple Award Programme is an initiative that makes sure that our employees are praised when they perform beyond what is expected from their daily service delivery. We reward people with on-the-stop, monthly and annual Apple Awards and everyone around the ISS employee is asked to participate in the nomination process. Whether this is a colleague, a manager or a customer.

Even though the point of the Award is so simple - being nominated for an Apple Award, leaves our employees with so much pride and motivation to walk that extra mile. Why? Because they know that their efforts are noticed and they know that we honestly and sincerely care.

So before we keep building on all these complex strategies and theories, why don’t we take on step back and start noticing the people behind the profession and bring back the magic of something as simple as a thank you?

I’m truly believe that these simple words will bring us pretty far. Do you?

Want to create best-in-class service experiences? Get the best practices in the ISS 2020 Vision White Book: The future of Service Management.

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