The modern workplace today is rapidly shifting from thinking that employee appreciation and recognition is something that is simply nice to have. Instead, it is considered necessary and even a requirement to help reduce employee turnover, keep employees engaged, and maintain a cohesive work environment.
A 2016 article published in HumanResourcesToday.com suggests that research shows money and other perks are not always the best way to keep an employee. Rather, “the number one reason why people leave jobs is due to ‘limited recognition and praise.’” While compensation and a good salary is important, most employees value respect and appreciation far more than monetary gain.
Additionally, according to an article published by cofounder and retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, David Novak, in the Harvard Business Review, “82% of employed Americans don’t feel that their supervisors recognize them enough for their contributions” and “40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.”
Employee appreciation is a great way to show staff how much you are grateful for their efforts to make a project or a company a success. As much as the world is discussing artificial intelligence and robotic processes, we will always have and need people to think, innovate, create, and pull off amazing things that make companies successful and customers loyal.
If the secret weapon to reducing employee turnover, increasing employee satisfaction and work happiness, implementing better customer services, and boosting morale, productivity, and profitability is simply showing employees how valuable and appreciated they are, then it stands to reason that it is vastly important employers get better and learning how to do it.
To help you out, here are the top 9 employee appreciation ideas you can keep near your desk when it comes time to hit the gratitude button for your employees in 2019:
1. Celebrate birthdays
Make employees feel special by catering lunch, taking the team or office to lunch, dinner, or happy hour, or getting a personalized cake for everyone to take part in.
Whether team members like to fly under the radar on their special day or prefer to be the life of the party literally, take some time away from the daily grind to make them feel special.
You can also do other things such as giving that employee the entire day off (that does not count against their PTO), or letting them come to the office only to send them back out for the day to a spa or amusement park.
It helps during these times to know your employees well, including their preferences and favorite things so you don’t miss the mark.
2. Recognize employee passions
Every employee is unique, and it helps if you recognize that. Even if you have a room full of 30 sales representatives or 50 content writers, each one brings their own ideas and styles to each project.
They also like to do different things as well. While one sales representative may enjoy gaming, another may like to go swimming, and still another may enjoy sports. Whatever the case, let employees know that you recognize and appreciate their passions.
Perhaps, you can give them a couple hours each month to work on a project they are passionate about outside of work. Consider adopting an employee’s project and let an entire team work with that employee on it. When you value employee’s and their passions, they know you really value them as individuals.
3. Shout out time
In some executive meetings that I get the chance to sit in on, the leader of the meeting will spend a few minutes allowing people to stand up and “shout out” someone who has done exceptionally good work.
This can include someone on that person’s team or someone on another team or in another department who did something amazing. It is a great chance for people to get to see each their fellow teammates being applauded and can encourage positive thinking about all the efforts that get put into making a company grow.
This can be cross-departmental as well, giving other departments an opportunity to see the awesome work of other departments who they may not work with very often.
4. Game nights
Game nights are always fun for both the uber-competitive employees and those who just want to be entertained by it all.
One of the teams I am on absolutely love having a game night. They plan for it for several months prior because it is not only fun, but also an amazing opportunity to get people to learn each other’s personalities and work together to complete projects.
Game nights can be big or small, ranging from an entire office to just a small team of a dozen or so people. One person can be responsible for selecting the games, another for ensuring snacks and drinks are available, and still another for keeping the score and handing out prizes.
5. Out of office day
Pick a day a few times a year to take the entire team outside of the office to work at another location. It can be a cafe, a library, outside in the open space, on a college campus, at Starbucks, or any place that has a solid Wi-Fi connection.
Getting out of the office gives people a change of scenery and can be a good productivity and energy booster. It also is an opportunity to gain a breath of fresh air, come up with new ideas, and be all-around more creative.
6. Personalized notes
No, handwriting a note that simply says “thank you” or that may go in detail as to why you are grateful for an employee or team member is not out of style. Even with all the incredible technology around us, handwritten notes give a sense of nostalgia.
Everyone (including bosses) is happy to receive a handwritten card or sticky note that shows how much they are loved and appreciated. Leave it on your employee’s desk or door so when they come in the next day, they will be pleasantly surprised.
7. Recognize personal or holistic achievements
Reaching company goals are very important and should be recognized when they are reached. But you can also recognize employees for achieving their personal or holistic goals. Doing so helps to remind employees that their company cares about them, not just for what they can do for the company, but for what they do also for themselves.
For example, when an employee reaches his or her fitness goals, recognize them. When an employee graduates from college, obtains some certification, changes a bad habit, writes a book, or capitalizes on an opportunity they have had, applaud that.
It takes courage for many people to do the things that matter to them personally. When it happens, continue to encourage it because it lets them know that you care for them and not just about the company bottom line.
8. Celebrate employees’ families and friends
Is an employee getting married? Celebrating a 30th wedding anniversary? Graduating a child from college? Having a baby? Moving to a new house? All these things are worth celebrating. If it matters to your employees, it should matter to you as well.
Take some time to get to know your employees. Even if briefly, they will tell you about the most important changes happening in their lives. When the right time comes, be sure to celebrate with them.
Give them gift cards for their spouse, game tickets for their kids, get well cards for a sick friend, gifts for the new baby, or dinner for the week after the loss of a loved one. If what matters to them, matters to you, you may not have employees forever, but you will have friends for life.
9. Travel for service
A friend of mine recently went to Honduras with her work team to build houses for a week. Yes, they took the entire team to Honduras, not for a vacation, but to make a difference together.
While you don’t have to travel outside of the country (although you can certainly do it), you can find local opportunities to gather your team together and go and serve others. You and your team are blessed to have each other.
Take some time out of your busy schedules to go and do something that makes a difference in the community. Feed the homeless. Visit a military hospital. Teach students for a day. Volunteer at an orphanage. Or, go to another country to aid in humanitarian relief.
The possibilities are endless. Serving others draws your entire team together and offers a unique experience for all involved.
Treat employee appreciation and recognition as a privilege. It is not just another task on your multiple to-do lists. It is needed by your employees and makes for a good return on investment. Just as young children need to be loved and cared for, employees don’t just want another company and position on their resume or LinkedIn profile. They want to know that they truly belong to an organization and that their efforts are truly appreciated.
Whether the ideas listed here seem big or small is inconsequential. It is always the most thoughtful things that make the biggest difference. When a team leader, manager, or company CEO has a heart for recognition, employees appreciate it and it goes a long way for the company’s success and bottom line.