With the great resignation looming large, the importance of appreciating your employees is as significant as ever. Over the last 2 years, many have been working tirelessly and have put themselves at risk to keep their industry afloat. The growing intensity of workloads has led to record levels of employee turnover. Employees are no longer feeling appreciated and are using the exit door to show their dissatisfaction. As per a 2019 employee engagement report, only a quarter of employees feel highly valued by their companies. So, managers need to find ways to give back to their employees. There’s never been a better time to get creative and figure out some employee appreciation ideas that give them the recognition they deserve.
Let’s first look at what employee appreciation really is.
What is employee appreciation?
Employee appreciation can be defined as an act of recognizing and rewarding an employee for their contribution to a company. The commitments of employees are invaluable to any success that a company achieves. Appreciation can boost retention, enhance company culture, and even optimize productivity. Yet, many managers are still blind to the positive impact it can have.
Let’s review why it’s so important at this current time.
The impact of employee appreciation in trying times
The impact of employee appreciation is even greater than it ever has been before. In many industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and hospitality, companies have struggled to retain employees. This is down to lower pay and feeling disrespected in the workplace. Many have endured extremely long working days. A lack of control over their schedule has led them down the dark road of an unhealthy work-life balance.
A recent survey conducted by Achievers found that 69% of employees view recognition and rewards as their top motivation. Humans have an ingrained need to feel appreciated for their work. Even a simple “thank you” can go a long way to boosting productivity, improving morale, and helping to retain employees. And despite the perceived notion that this always occurs from manager to employee, it’s not always the case.
Employee Appreciation Logistics
Let’s look at some of the ways to facilitate your employee appreciation ideas:
- Peer to peer – Peer-to-peer appreciation occurs when one employee gives recognition to another through appreciating the work they have produced. For example, a project leader may be congratulative of the project team for achieving success.
- Manager – Manager appreciation is where a manager appreciates their employees’ efforts. This is more typical in a situation where they have gone above and beyond to achieve exceptional results. But, can still occur at any time as a tool of motivation.
- Event – Event-based appreciation is often subject to a particular occasion that sparks positivity. For example, a work anniversary or a job promotion.
Whichever way they choose to represent it, a company should be actively making its employees feel appreciated all the time. By building it into their culture, they can explore the different ways that spark the most motivation in their team.
So on that note, let’s explore some employee appreciation ideas you can try.
Employee Appreciation Ideas
An employee recognition program
An employee recognition program can be whatever a company wants it to be. Employers design these programs to recognize, appreciate and reward employees for their good work. Improving employee engagement is a key focus for many companies. There’s no doubting that this should be top of their list. If implemented strategically, it can boost performance and build a company culture that not only retains employees but attracts talent too.
Usually, employers use a structured employee recognition program. Although spontaneity can often be refreshing, it is far more motivating for an employee to work hard for a persistent reward. Let’s break down two types of structured employee recognition programs that you may be familiar with:
Structured Employee Recognition Plans
- Employee of the month – Employee of the month has long been the age-old classic of many a company. These awards are often voted for by the manager or peers. A company should make sure to personalize this reward by highlighting the specific reason why this employee is being ‘recognized’.
- Monetary recognition rewards – Money should not always be a company’s prime motivator because it can breed an unhealthy obsession. But if a little sweetener is going a long way towards increasing your productivity and profitability, then it does no harm. Look at investing in more thoughtful monetary rewards such as gift cards, paid training opportunities, or if you’re feeling extra generous, a personalized bonus.
Unstructured employee recognition programs are often used more frequently to drive short-term performance. This type of employee recognition is usually represented as a spontaneous gesture of appreciation that comes with no formality. As a newer concept, companies are beginning to understand that regular praise is having a positive impact on their workforce. Let’s dive into an example.
If a company believes an employee has played an invaluable part in completing a project, an email may be sent around the office to praise their performance. Managers tend to create these ideas with no train of thought, so you should expect an element of randomness in an unstructured employee recognition program.
Let’s discuss another employee appreciation idea that may be worth your time.
Prioritize the health of your employees
Prioritizing the health of your employees doesn’t just show you appreciate the work they do for your company. It shows a strong workplace culture that emphasizes the importance that no matter what, employees will feel valued in their working environment.
Due to the social unrest over the last few years, today’s workforce has high expectations of the workplace values your company provides for them. People are beginning to realize that the grass is greener in a workplace that appreciates them. And by appreciating them, it doesn’t mean that a company has spent a ton of time and money executing a perfect employee appreciation idea. The simple things like incorporating wellness days, encouraging longer breaks, and being openly available to their requests will all contribute to a happier and healthier working environment.
Open communication allows your employees to feel more engaged with your company. An open environment can lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced stress, loyalty and mutual respect if an employee feels that what they communicate is being received respectfully. So, let’s look further into open communication and how it can contribute to employee appreciation.
Give your employees a voice
Employee appreciation ideas aren’t just about recognition and rewards. It is also about giving your employees a voice to make them feel that their contribution is invaluable to your company.
Giving your employees a voice doesn’t mean you opening up to a free-for-all. It simply means setting boundaries that still allow employees to express themselves and operate in a way that works for them. This can have a big impact on how connected they feel with your company. For example, do your employees get to choose the way they manage a project? Or do you instruct them on exactly how it should be done?
According to Workforce Institute, 92% of employees with a high sense of belonging feel significantly more heard than those without. So having an in-built culture that empowers employees to share their thoughts without any repercussions is essential to them feeling appreciated.
Celebrate all the time
What better way to show you appreciate your employees than celebrating all year round?
Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of every March and gives companies an opportunity to say more than just “thank you” to their employees. However, employers shouldn’t limit this appreciation to a single day. This is why we encourage you to create a calendar that highlights all the significant days for your team.
Companies should use this as an opportunity to celebrate birthdays, public holidays, company goals, promotions, or anything else that supports the appreciation of their employees. And as we specified before, it’s great to mix it with both structured and unstructured recognition. Maybe an impulse decision to lift the team on a day of struggles may be just the additional motivation they need.
Recognize non-work achievements
It’s important that a company appreciates their employees for who they are outside of work as much as when they’re in. In their spare time, it’s possible that they’re taking on many social activities that require a great deal of determination. So, if you become aware of any achievements made outside of your four walls, make a big deal about it in front of the rest of their team. Bragging about your staff can go a long way to building employee morale.
Changing your employee appreciation landscape
Employee appreciation has become a cornerstone of effective management. The way your treat your employees can often reflect in the way your employees perform.
The goal for every company is to have a fully engaged workforce who enjoy their roles and work as hard as possible for the cause. And while that’s not always easy to achieve, discovering and trialing new employee appreciation ideas may help you to get there. While some employee appreciation ideas may be perceived as inconsequential, it’s the unexpected variables that can keep your workforce on its toes. If your appreciation towards them is meaningful, your workforce will feel motivated to achieve your company’s goals.
Rather than being a one-off event, make the appreciation of your employees purposeful and frequent. As the competition for talent escalates, the recognition you give them should be built into a company culture that makes employees feel valued for their contributions. Whether it’s a simple “thank you” or a yearly award, your employees will appreciate that you appreciate them. And your company’s bottom line will likely benefit from it too.