A woman giving a gift bag to another woman across a counter.

Saying thank you beyond Employee Appreciation Day

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Boosting quality employee recognition for your entire team

What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is observed every year on the first Friday in March. The purpose of Employee Appreciation Day is to recognize team members for their hard work and to reflect on their contributions toward the company’s success. This annual holiday is a clear milestone for employers to offer words of appreciation, provide incentives for great work, and to generate staff appreciation for outstanding performance. Many companies take this day to honor their employees. But what if employee appreciation was a practice done on a regular basis at companies and organizations?

While this event is important for employee morale and motivation, it is also crucial to recognize the importance of employee appreciation all year long. When employees don’t feel appreciated in their work environment, there is a higher likelihood that they will experience a decrease in motivation, feel less of a part of the team, and, as a result, possibly leave the company. The lack of recognition can have a major ripple effect when it comes to employee engagement. As more and more employers experience employee turnover during the Great Resignation, providing kudos and recognition for the positive impact of employees is more important than ever to maintain higher levels of employee retention. If an employee doesn’t feel like they are respected for their efforts, they may start looking for other jobs or opportunities.

This article will outline some of the ways you can generate appreciation for excellent work by your team members all year long. Moreover, it can become a familiar and consistent practice by your company that can become a part of the larger company culture. Appreciation could become a norm and a practice at your company so that employees feel respected, valued, and appreciated in the workplace.

How to integrate appreciation into your company culture

Going the extra mile is a major theme when it comes to employee appreciation. Employees want to feel recognized for their high-quality work as well as their commitment to your company. Here are some great ideas that your company can implement to promote staff appreciation into the fabric of your overall company culture.

  • Recognize years of service for employees on a regular basis. Some companies announce work anniversaries via email or through a staff portal. Having a visible and public way to honor these milestones is a critical part of employee recognition. This way, employees feel celebrated for their dedication and commitment to your company’s goals. Companies can consider providing employee rewards at different milestones.
  • Personalize recognition of employees’ hard work. When addressing the crucial role that your team members play, you should make it specific and personal to the person you are recognizing. Consider highlighting a specific moment where they exemplified company values. When it feels personal, recognition feels more meaningful and impactful. This could be completed through a note, an email, or through a face-to-face conversation.
  • Create spaces for peer recognition. Positive feedback isn’t only valuable coming from leadership at organizations. In fact, having spaces to recognize team players from other colleagues is just as important. Consider implementing a digital space for positive recognition or a physical space where employees can recognize the hard work they are seeing in other members of their team. Additionally, it may be beneficial for your company culture to also create opportunities for employees to thank their managers.
  • Celebrate birthdays. Employees want to be celebrated for being themselves, not just being a worker at your organization. By recognizing birthdays, your company is prioritizing the person and supporting them to feel celebrated within a work context. Birthday celebrations might include a handwritten note, a special birthday treat, or public recognition on an employee forum. For an employee who might have to work on their birthday, you can even consider giving them a paid day off so they can enjoy and celebrate outside of work.
  • Provide opportunities for career growth. Whether covering the cost of professional development opportunities or sharing resources for training, when you are invested in the skillset development of your employees, they are more likely to feel supported in the work environment. Opportunities for career mobility help employees feel more committed to their role and can result in an increase in work ethic and overall teamwork. Companies that outline professional development benefits are also more likely to attract high-level and quality candidates to the company for future roles and positions.
  • Provide snacks, treats, and other incentives. It is important to normalize small kudos or the little things that make work a positive work environment. Employees often enjoy free food, snacks, and treats as part of the benefits of working at your company. When these types of incentives are offered just because, they can improve morale and a positive association to showing up and putting in the extra effort. You can also consider taking staff out to lunch on a quarterly or monthly basis for the sake of team morale building.
  • Promote mentoring. Another way to promote the appreciation of good work is to integrate mentoring programs at your company. More experienced employees can work with less experienced employees to help build their connection to the company and have increased relational support at work. This way, employees will have a role model to rely on who will help them feel more connected to the brand and the team at-large. For larger companies, this is essential so that newer employees have a roadmap for learning about company values, company protocols, and company processes as well.
  • Recognize non-work achievements. In the spirit of recognizing employees as whole persons, it is helpful to identify accomplishments of employees outside of the workplace. Whether completing a milestone with a hobby or volunteer activity or starting a family or getting married, it is supportive to recognize personal achievements as much as professional ones. This way, other employees can learn about the employee outside of the office and build connections beyond what is discussed within work projects.

Making employee appreciation a fuller experience

The idea of saying “thank you” should be more than a single day of words of appreciation. Instead, appreciation is best expressed when it’s an actual experience that employees can feel and be a part of. Employee recognition programs can involve actual experiences that employees can enjoy — even taking a bit of time from work to feel celebrated.

Some successful employee appreciation activities have included the reward of employee swag, having food trucks visit companies on-site for free food, or having time for employee bonding activities, like a field day or taking part in an escape room. Time away from work to encourage recognition and teamwork will not only generate increased positive attitudes but promote a stronger experience of working together in the future. Plus, you are supporting employees to create memorable experiences within their workplace. This will help them feel a stronger tie to your organization and help them be positive advocates in sharing what it means to be a part of your company and company brand.

Increasing employee engagement through consistent recognition

Employee appreciation should be integrated at every level of your organization. Additionally, it should consist of a variety of different touch points, including public recognition, personalized celebration, and events that showcase gratitude for the overall work of the company. If employee appreciation is limited to a single day, you won’t see the same investment into company culture. In fact, it may increase your likelihood for employee turnover.

When you center employee appreciation as part of your company values, you are prioritizing your team as part of your mission and vision. Over time, this will attract more employees to your company that can offer unique perspectives and quality contributions.

Next steps

Are you ready to consider strategies for employee retention, employee engagement, and employee recognition? Are you looking for ways to celebrate your employees on a regular basis, not just one day per year? Are you hoping to implement staff appreciation in all steps of your business model?

Heartland is ready to help.

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us.