How do you show appreciation to employees? It’s not always easy to find the right way. In fact, nearly everyone who’s worked for a company has received a generic thank-you gift. (Here are some ideas to improve those.)
And while the thought always counts, it doesn’t count for much if there isn’t much thought. In fact, in a recent survey we conducted, 40% of employees we asked said the recognition they received at work felt like an empty gesture.
40% of employees say the recognition they receive at work feels like an empty gesture.
As the way that we work changes, building a strong work community is more important than ever. Whether it’s combatting burnout, helping reduce the stress caused by the difficult economy, or embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce, organizations that prioritize employee belonging and connection are likely to prosper. Those that don’t value their employees will likely fall behind.
Your team should never feel like an afterthought, especially in uncertain times. Even if you have a great employee reward and recognition program, there are always ways to improve. So if you need new ways to show appreciation, we have you covered. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your celebrations, too.
The most important thing about employee appreciation is to demonstrate that you value your team. They want to be heard and seen. Here are some ways you can show your appreciation.
Got a first-class upgrade on a flight? Give it to an employee. Receive a basket of treats from a vendor? Share it with your team. Did you land hard-to-get reservations at a restaurant? Send your employee instead.
Ask people what their favorite snacks are. Then surprise them by mailing those treats home or bringing them to work. This is a good way to create appreciation moments all year round.
Show your people you value their individuality by giving them gifts that represent their interests. They don’t need to be expensive; personalization is what’s important. For example, BlueScope, an Australian steel manufacturing company, worked with us to curate a catalog of gift cards for employees to choose the gift that meant most to them, including a charitable donation.
See how BlueScope thanked all of their employees in a meaningful way
Consider custom gifts that are branded and symbolize your company. Or give employees a choice of gifts where they can select something meaningful to them. If you have an existing recognition program, a large points deposit can have a substantial impact, especially if employees are saving up for a great award from your award store.
Gift ideas can be hard to come up with, especially ones that are a little more off the wall. But don’t be afraid to get creative. Sometimes the most unique employee appreciation gifts are the most memorable. Here are some examples to get you started.
It may seem strange to reward employees with more work, but our research shows that when an employee participates in a special project, they have a 26% increased sense of opportunity. Give your team the chance to create special projects that they love.
A great way to show you appreciate and trust your people is to let them lead. Give them the title of Boss for a Week. Have them lead meetings, make important decisions, and sit in on executive meetings.
Most employees don’t get much face time with their senior leaders. Many may never attend a meeting with their CEO. So invite them to one. Better yet, recognize their accomplishments in front of the C-suite.
Employee appreciation doesn’t have to be too costly. In fact, there are ways to do it that will make your team feel valued without breaking your budget. Here are some ways to show them that you care without spending a fortune.
What better way to start a meeting than with fun, positive cheer? Begin each meeting by highlighting recent employee accomplishments. You can talk about your appreciation for extra effort, above-and-beyond work, career milestones, innovation, exhibiting company values, customer service, excellence, and much more.
A great way to build camaraderie is to decorate work areas with things like balloons, streamers, banners, and even confetti. Hindalco, an Indian-based tech company, made “praise trees” to showcase gratitude around their offices.
Company celebrations don’t have to be flashy or expensive. In fact, our Global Culture Report found that spending as little as $50 per employee per year can impact employee engagement. Frequent recognition is important too — the best practice is to recognize employees 35 times per year, which is about three times per month. You may also want to look at how symbolic awards can provide another employee appreciation touchpoint.
Use the time to catch up. Don’t just talk about work — check in with them personally.
An employee appreciation gift is also a way to forge new connections between people and reinforce relationships that are already in place. When you want to do that, here are some ways to go about it.
Even though most people spend a third of their lives at the office, many employees still don’t know much about their coworkers. Remedy this by celebrating their personal achievements as well as work ones. Did they recently run a marathon? Have a new baby? Master a new hobby? Send a note of congratulations along with a small gift.
Showcase the great work your people are doing on a company social Wall of Fame. An even better idea is to add a way for peers to add their own comments and recognition, like with O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud.
When you advocate for your people, it shows you value and believe in them. Actively help them get tools, resources, and career development.
Let your team off work at noon on Friday or give them an extra day off around a holiday. The surprise time off shows you appreciate them.
Send out a questionnaire asking your employees about subjects that interest them. Then, for your next team-building event, learn a new skill as a team.
Employees today may be working from home, hybrid, or at far-flung locations around the world. That can make certain employee appreciation strategies less effective — but it also means you have the chance to do something new and unexpected. Here are a few options.
Surprise your employees with handwritten letters — actually sent to their homes! This shows that you are happy to go the extra mile to make your recognition meaningful.
Don’t stop with just internal fame — highlight your employees on your company’s external social media as well. This is particularly useful for large companies with people spread across the globe.
Many employees are spending more time with their families — so mail treats, games, or flowers — but send them to their families.
Every once in a while, call your people and just chat with them. Not a one-on-one about work, but about them, their interests, family, and hobbies. Be genuine and get to know them as individuals. Because ultimately, appreciation is seeing and valuing someone for being them.
Recognition cannot be an afterthought. It must be deliberate and timely. Whether it’s a simple thank you or more formal recognition, people want to feel appreciated at work. They want to feel a sense of purpose, and that they are part of something bigger than themselves. The right employee appreciation program can help make those connections and much more.
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