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Topic: Appreciation

3 Ways to Make 2021 a Year of Employee Appreciation

This year, thank your employees for everything they’ve done to weather the pandemic

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You can add up all the days, weeks, and months in 2020, but for most people, it felt much longer than a year. Possibly because it contained more than its share of adversity and uncertainty. But it was also full of triumph and success. And the reason is clear: employees at every level in every department rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations.


Despite all of the difficulties of the past year, your employees stood strong. From leaders who turned constant instabilities into guidance for teams, to frontline workers who risked their lives to keep things moving. From production and IT workers who found new ways to work, to dedicated remote staff who rallied together in new environments and adapted to new technologies.

A global biomedical company wanted to express appreciation to all of their employees for their hard work during the pandemic, so they gave every employee $1000 worth of points in their recognition program. It was a surprise. It was substantial. But most of all it allowed each employee to select a gift that they wanted and would remember.

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Through all of the social distancing, sanitising, natural disasters, and societal unrest, your employees kept moving forward. They rose to the challenge. Your people carried you through and now you have the opportunity to say “thank you” in a significant way. Whether it’s for major events like Hospital Week, Nurses Week, or Administrative Professionals Day, or a big company milestone you achieve this year, or even just a surprise to lift your people up, take a moment to show your gratitude.

Now, more than ever, is the time to go big and thank every single employee. Everyone who put in extra effort to keep business as usual during very unusual times. Everyone who made personal sacrifices without knowing what the future would hold. Everyone who did something extraordinary. Thank them all.

“When employees were recognised during the pandemic, they were 103% more likely to feel supported by the organisation”

Not sure how to say thank you after a year like 2020? Start with these three ideas:

1) Include everyone.

The unsung heroes. The on-site achievers. The frontline and back office workers. From top-level executives all the way down to entry-level interns, thank them all. Each one of your employees adapted, persevered, innovated, and endured.

Don’t limit special recognition to just one team, one location, or one business unit. And consider going beyond just your employees. Our client, Tech Mahindra, even includes housekeeping staff, who are typically outsourced and not considered official company employees, in their recognition efforts. So be sure to include everyone who helped you survive 2020 in your celebrations. Thank every last employee.

2) Make it personal.

Appreciating employees this year can’t be like the years before. Generic employee appreciation gift ideas like gift baskets, team lunches, on-site events, and company swag are not only impractical in these times, but they can’t capture the gravitas of 2020. We know you feel a depth of gratitude to your people for all they endured this year. Your employees deserve more, so give them more.

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Finding the perfect gift isn’t always easy. While it may not be possible to hand out cash bonuses and raises in difficult times, consider finding a solution that lets employees choose an event-specific award that is personal to them. Maybe they’ll choose something they wished for during the pandemic but weren’t able to get. Perhaps they’ll choose something they can share with their families to celebrate making it through a lean year. Or maybe they’ll just choose something to make them smile as they look forward to brighter days ahead. Find an unexpected way to express true gratitude for your employees’ efforts, tears, and sacrifices over this past year.

Just as recognition has evolved from a series of transactional, automated experiences to frequent and genuine displays of gratitude, appreciation gifts must evolve from generic handouts to something that is personal, meaningful, and memorable.

3) Go big. But keep it simple.

Celebrating your people shouldn’t be complicated, even with employees spread out across multiple locations and social distancing in the workplace. Find a solution that is easy for you to administer and your employees to use.

O.C. Tanner offers a quick and easy solution that allows organisations to thank their people in a meaningful and memorable way. For new clients, we can set up a one-time gift experience that lets employees choose a gift from thousands of the latest gadgets, gear, and merchandise. So every employee can find a gift that means the most to them. For existing clients, we can quickly arrange a company-wide points deposit for every team member using your existing recognition solution. Either way, you can create an unexpected surprise that will give every employee the chance to choose a gift. The amount you give is up to you. But it’s a great way to say thanks after a challenging year.​

Frontline employees became essential, working tirelessly to keep business (and society) moving.
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Ocwen combined the chance to choose a gift with videos and comments on their recognition program’s social wall to thank teams for pivoting to remote work during the pandemic. On a recent survey, employees indicated they were more productive and had high morale. They also gave the organisation positive feedback for their response to the pandemic because they felt appreciated along the way.

“Companies that recognised their employees in 2020 saw 47% higher engagement and innovation”

2020 is a year your people will never forget. So celebrate them in a way they’ll never forget. This year, make employee appreciation exceptional. 

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