Employee appreciation should not be a once-a-year event. In fact, people who feel valued on the regular are less likely to leave their jobs. Putting some effort into recognizing your employees for the good jobs they are doing can help you reduce turnover, increase engagement, and just make your workplace a better place to be! (Virtual workplaces, too!)
It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. In fact, while monetary-based rewards are nice sometimes, true sincerity is often more prized. The idea is to recognize individuals and teams for a job well-done and to do it on a consistent and regular basis, building it into your company culture.
Here are 12 ways you can show appreciation for and recognize your employees.
1. Give public acknowledgments.
A private message is fine and good, but sharing the recognition company-wide is even better. When the boss or president of the company gives the shout-out, it’s a powerful way to make your employees feel validated, appreciated, and cared about. Give the acknowledgment in the way that makes the most sense for your business — whether it’s an email, a social media shout-out, or a mention at the next meeting.
2. Build it into your regular meetings.
Speaking of meetings, make it a regular practice to add a few minutes of acknowledgments at the beginning of your weekly meeting (if you have one). Recognize a single person at each meeting, or give people the opportunity to thank and recognize their peers. Make it the norm to show gratitude for good effort.
3. Help them grow.
Sometimes people leave a company because there is no room for growth. Nurture the desire to learn and expand by offering continuing education opportunities or sponsoring them to attend a conference they would enjoy and benefit from.
4. Do lunch.
Taking your team out for lunch is a great way to say thank you and nourish bodies at the same time! It’s also a nice way to socialize and get to know each other outside of the workplace. If your team is virtual (or temporarily virtual), send lunch delivery to each person, and eat together in a virtual room. If these options don’t work for you, sending or giving them a basket of treats or chocolate never hurts.
5. Give gift cards for fun stuff.
I know I said that money isn’t the only motivator (and it’s not), but a monetary gift is nice sometimes. Especially when it’s personalized. And a gift card is permission to treat yourself — whereas a cash gift might end up being used for something like the electricity bill, which hardly feels like a treat. So try matching a gift card to a person’s individual tastes. If they mentioned a restaurant they love, get them a gift card for that. If they love to read, how about a gift card to the local bookstore. If they always talk about music, how about a gift card for the local guitar shop.
Don’t underestimate the power of a party. (Yes, even a virtual party, if that’s where you’re currently at!) Birthdays, goal achievement celebrations, holidays, or simply a quarterly employee appreciation jam — there’s always a reason for a party. Don’t forget to also celebrate those employment anniversaries. If you are doing your party virtually, choose a theme, let people dress up or bring certain props, and have a plan for sharing a message or getting people to interact in a fun way.
7. Say thanks the old-fashioned way.
Meaning just authentically thank them. Oftentimes, we feel grateful to someone, assume they know how we feel, and don’t give voice to our appreciation. That’s a mistake! Always say it out loud. And to take it one step further in the “old fashioned” direction, send them a handwritten note of thanks. It will mean a lot, I promise.
8. Give time off.
Whether it’s a day off or a couple of hours of early leave, giving people a well-deserved break to go and do something of their own personal choosing is a nice way to acknowledge how much you value them and their own individual needs.
9. Let peers acknowledge each other.
Appreciation from the boss is wonderful, and appreciation from your co-workers can be just as fulfilling. Give people opportunities to give shout-outs to each other — whether it’s in the weekly meeting as we mentioned earlier or on the communication platform you use for work. You could also have a team sign a card for an individual or contribute a personalized message to an e-card.
10. Listen on an ongoing basis.
Nothing says, “I value you,” more than simply listening to your people’s ideas and genuinely considering or implementing them. When people are truly heard, they feel appreciated and acknowledged. So listen to their work ideas and project feedback. And also ask for their ideas for the little things. Let employees choose the party themes. Vote, take polls, and do surveys for other workplace decisions. And ask them directly how they would like to be recognized and appreciated.
11. Recognize employees on the company website.
When people feel like a part of a team, instead of simply a number or a body filling a role, they feel invested. They feel a sense of loyalty, commitment, and pride. And they are much more likely to stick around. So if it makes sense for your particular company, feature the individuals on your teams on your company website. Get them each professional headshots, if possible, and allow them to write a short bio that will be published.
12. Pass around a trophy item.
Sports teams use an actual trophy. They pass it from team to team when there is a championship win. So perhaps you could create your own company symbol of value that you could pass from person to person on a regular basis (perhaps monthly or quarterly). Maybe the item is a trophy of sorts or perhaps its something more humorous and fun.
Remember, no matter what method of appreciation you choose, do it authentically and do it often! And do something rather than nothing. You get what you give. And by giving appreciation and acknowledgment, you get commitment, engagement, and loyalty.
“Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” – Dale Carnegie