There is a scene in the movie, What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, about an employee (played by Judy Greer) that is struggling with thoughts of suicide because she feels like nobody even notices her, ever. After Mel experiences something that enables him to know what women around him are thinking, he becomes aware of this co-worker’s thoughts, and he’s able to do something about it. 

Fortunately, we cannot hear others’ thoughts – thoughts of insecurity, unfulfillment, and failure – but that’s not a good excuse for not being aware that people need to be recognized, edified and supported.

You’ve likely heard the reference that respect is like air. The moment you don’t have it, it becomes the most important thing you need.

Something else works quite the same way – recognition.  

But unlike air, it’s non-existence is virtually unnoticeable day-to-day. Invisible. Since we all pretty much live day-to-day, we think we are okay without a lot of recognition. And, if we don’t think we need it, we project that on others, meaning they don’t need it either.

According to Gallup Research, less than 30% of US employees are engaged at the workplace, and worldwide it’s less than 13%. Let me tell you about people – our teams and our co-coworkers, and maybe our families. More people than we realize feel unnoticed, unnecessary and irrelevant. That does not make for a highly engaged person – at work or home. And it’s usually our fault. We don’t slow down and do these seemingly little things that we ultimately know makes a HUGE difference.

Do your people feel relevant? Do your people feel they’re needed? Do they even feel like you see them?

You have much more influence than you think. What you think means more than you think.

Forget all the big, creative, time-consuming ways to recognize. Well, do those if you’re willing, but don’t let them and the time it takes to do them stand in the way.

Just say “Thank you.” Just use people’s names. Just ask how their weekend was and pause for the answer.

Just notice people. Just tell them they matter. Just tell them they’re needed and appreciated. Do it authentically. Mean it. And keep it consistent. Lack of consistency kills trust.

And remember, a culture, your culture, is a consistent set of actions.