Many of the organizations where I coach hold an annual employee appreciation day. The leadership team presents employees who have had significant accomplishments or anniversaries with some form of recognition. Then they say something about how important every member of the team is and go back to their offices, satisfied that they’ve taken care of employee appreciation for another year.
To be honest, it’s a horrible idea. Showing appreciation is good, but showing it only once a year is a problem. I believe employee appreciation should happen every day.
When was the last time you told your hard-working team that they’re doing a good job and that you appreciate them? If you have to think about it too much, you’re not appreciating them enough.
If you want your best employees to stay, your cost of staff turnover to be low, and your leadership to thrive, you need to show appreciation—not with a few trite phrases of gratitude at an annual event, but with daily expressions of how much you value them. To help you get started, here are 25 ways to show your appreciation and gratitude:
Make a drive-by connection. One of the best ways to let people know you value them is to make a spontaneous stop by their office or desk and just ask, “How are you?”
Treat feedback as a gift. Feedback is important. To be effective, though, it should never be treated as criticism but as a gift, where the person understands you are telling them something because you care about them.
Give an ambassadorship. Invite an employee to represent your department or organization at an event they typically wouldn’t have a chance to attend.
Encourage special projects. Give people an opportunity to work on special projects beyond their regular responsibilities and help them achieve success.
Have a “cheers from peers” time. Give people a chance to call out positive things about others who are doing great work, building camaraderie and bringing outstanding performance to your attention—and everyone else’s.
Extend an invitation. Invite your top performer to join your executive team meeting to meet senior leadership and open a new perspective.
Establish mentorship. Arranging mentors for interested employees shows your investment in their success.
Ask for ideas and opinions. Appreciation isn’t just a reward system. It should be built into the organizational culture. One way to do that is to give your employees real choices and actual voices.
Write a note. Send handwritten notes—not an email— telling people that you appreciate them and thanking them for their work.
Broadcast your thanks. Send a companywide email praising your employees for a job well done.
Be specific. Don’t just say “thank you for all you do”—let people know exactly what you appreciate about them. Be as specific and detailed as possible.
Host a lunch and learn. Give people a chance to spend time together informally and learn about something of interest that isn’t necessarily related to work.
Encourage continuing education. Send people to classes and seminars, help with tuition (or pay it completely)—when you help people keep learning you help them advance their careers.
Invest in their health. Make it clear that you want your employees to take care of themselves, in and out of the workplace. Consider gym memberships, step challenges, healthy snacks.
Let them have a say. Create an employee survey to learn how people would most like to be recognized and appreciated.
Renovate your break room. Make it a welcoming place to truly get away from work and refresh.
Personalize recognition. Find out what people like, learn their interests and hobbies, and provide recognition in a way that benefits them personally.
Remember their birthday. Give employees a day off they can use on their birthday or whenever they want.
Recognize work anniversaries. Reward people who stay with the company and provide public recognition.
Hand out gift cards. One of my clients hands out gift cards, and their employees truly appreciate it.
Write it up. Feature your employees’ success stories in your company newsletter or blog.
Send a video. Create an appreciation video for your employee with a thank-you message from your CEO.
Give a social media shout-out. Post photos of your employees on social media and brag about their achievements. Don’t forget to tag them!
Bring on the food trucks. it’s a fun perk that breaks up the usual brown-bag lunch.
Give tickets for an exclusive event. Reward your employees with hard-to-obtain tickets.
Some leaders take for granted that employees are there to do the work tasked to them, and think that because it is expected, there is no need for a thank you that is far from true.
If you want to keep your employees happy, engaged and productive, you need to let them know that their hard work is recognized and appreciated—not just once a year, but every day.
Lead from within: Employee recognition is the foundation of employee satisfaction and leadership gratification.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.