If you’re on the hunt for ideas to show your employees how much they’re appreciated – just because it’s nearly Employee Appreciation Day – then there’s something you should know. You can (and should) make your team feel valued every day of the year.
Here’s how this works. A study by Dan Ariely, Emir Kamenica and Drazen Prelec divided participants into 3 groups and assigned them all the same basic task. Groups who didn’t receive recognition for their work needed twice the pay to continue with the task as opposed to the group who did receive recognition. Ouch.
Moral of the story? Value employees as humans, and promote their workplace happiness. In return, you’ll have more loyal, motivated and high performing staff who don’t need to see dollar-dollar signs before fully investing in their work.
You like the sound of this. Actually, you really like the sound of this. But you have just one burning question. Ηow exactly do you make your team feel appreciated? Keep reading, because we’ve got you covered.
How do you bring staff appreciation to life in the workplace?
Working with a tight budget? Feeling pressured for time? No problem. Employee recognition doesn’t have to be a heavy burden to bear. In fact, you can work these staff appreciation ideas into priceless daily habits, or expensive annual traditions. It’s really up to you.
1. Link performance goals to personal aspirations
Performance goals will always be important. But to really show your team how valuable they are, take some time to learn about their personal interests and aspirations, too. This could be a few personal questions during a performance appraisal, or even just a casual chat over lunch.
Either way, be sure to genuinely listen when employees open up about their lives (or you’ll just look like a nosy parker). Then, help them connect their personal goals to work goals. For example, if Brad would like to provide more for his family, chat about career advancement or commission opportunities that would help him do this.
2. Empower employees to make their own decisions
Oh boy. This heading has you feeling nervous. Because delegating tasks to team members, and then trusting them to meet your high standards, is tough. Especially when, on top of it all, they’re given room to plan and manage their own time. But, allowing employees to decide when and how they complete a task is actually one of the best ways to show staff appreciation.
So, it’s time to loosen those reigns. Empower your team to perform on their own terms by offering them flexi-time. This way, employees can pop out to fetch their kids from school, or meet a client for lunch. And in return, they’ll invest their full energy and focus into their work when they’re in the office.
3. Recognize high performance and positive workplace behaviors
When it comes to staff recognition, fair and meaningful rewards are everything. And, boy, do you have options! A fatter paycheck is always a welcome addition to any employee’s wallet, but there are other more creative and personal ways to show your appreciation.
To start with, make employees feel special on their birthdays by treating them to a meal or throwing them a pizza party. Then, throughout the year, recognize high performance by giving employees a thank you card that outlines the specific behaviors you’d like to see again. Like when Jane started work early to accommodate a client with a tight schedule.
But praise from peers can be just as important as praise from the boss. So, if your HR management tool allows employees and managers to give each other feedback, use it. You could even hold competitions where employees are awarded for giving and receiving recognition. Because when employees feel publicly recognized for their good deeds, those positive feelings spread throughout the company. And that’s how a happy workplace is made!
4. Make work interesting and challenging
Indiana Jones had one heck of a job, right? You know, discovering intriguing mysteries, challenging himself to unravel them – well, you’ve seen the movies. But most jobs, well, they’re not like Indiana Jones’. Many jobs require some level of repetition, and most are so clearly defined that they become plain boring.
So, the trick to employee happiness and productivity is creating an environment that’s interesting, challenging, and meaningful for each employee. To do this, inspire employees to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone. Give them tasks and goals just beyond the scope of their job, and then let them know that you’re rooting for them (Indiana Jones, watch out!)
A great approach is to encourage employees to join projects where their talents will shine. This could be anything from CSI initiatives to health and safety committees. Then, let them know that your door is always open for advice, guidance, and feedback.
5. Foster healthy working relationships
Can I get a connection? Words from the Colorado Springs band, One Republic, in their song titled “Connection”. Words we can all relate to. Because humans are designed to connect with others. So why shouldn’t people be allowed this social connection at work, too?
It’s hard to argue with this question when fostering workplace relationships is so easy to do. Create online forums or physical spaces for employees from any team to engage and collaborate. Give employees the opportunity to meet colleagues they haven’t worked with before at company socials and annual parties. Or, if team bonding is your priority, create team building activities to help employees understand each other better.
Most importantly, though, create a team culture where open and constructive feedback is welcome (or even rewarded). Because honest two-way communication between colleagues and managers build strong relationships, and shows employees that their perspective is valued; a crucial ingredient for staff appreciation.
6. Show them that their health matters to you
When employees feel like their health is important to the company, they’re bound to feel appreciated. That’s a no-brainer. So if you can, supplement healthy food options at the cafeteria, and provide snacks, like fruit. Then, implement a wellness program that rewards employees for healthy living by giving them cash, meal vouchers, or even an overnight stay in the countryside.
If this is all sounding a little big for your budget, you can relax. There’s a simple solution, and it’s called time off. Time off is sort of like a cash bonus on steroids. Because it’s money earned while reading a novel, going for a hike, or playing with the kids. What better way to encourage work-life balance, and a healthy mind and body?
But you haven’t even heard the best part yet. Healthy people make happy employees. Employees who take fewer sick days, and have more energy and concentration to be the best versions of themselves at work. Could you ask for anything more?
7. Invest in their ongoing growth and development
Here’s a jaw-dropping stat. In a recent study by LinkedIn, 93% of employees said they would stay in their jobs longer if the company invested in their development. So what better way to foster employee happiness in the workplace than through ongoing learning opportunities, right?
Now, ongoing learning doesn’t have to mean ongoing planning. If you’re imagining a new in-house workshop every week, you’re mistaken. Because all you need to do is implement an easy-to-use learning management system (LMS) that allows employees to drive their own learning, in their own time.
Then, empower employees to practice their new skills in the workplace. Encourage them to participate in projects outside the usual scope of their duties. Or, let willing employees lead a team meeting or present at a company event. Either way, staff will appreciate the investment in their professional growth, and you’ll benefit from a more talented team.
Over to you
The most important thing to remember is to show employees that you appreciate them as people, not just as worker bees, and you’ll experience all of the benefits of having happy employees. You won’t just get their best efforts while they’re on the clock, you’ll get their loyalty and advocacy when they’re off the clock, too.
So, which of these staff recognition ideas will you be implementing this Employee Appreciation Day?