It takes a team to run a business. And in an era when more and more employees are leaving their jobs for greener pastures (also known as the Great Resignation), finding and keeping great talent takes work. It means being intentional about creating an environment that your employees want to work in. And one of the best ways to do that is to regularly show them that you appreciate them.
Showing your employees how much you value them doesn’t just make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. A study by Great Place to Work found that feeling appreciated is the number one motivator for employees to do great work. Showing appreciation for your employees has far-reaching effects on your business: it builds trust, improves employee morale, boosts productivity, and reduces turnover.
March 4th is listed on the calendar as employee appreciation day…but it’s important to show appreciation for your employees all year long. Here are a few ways to show your employees you love them throughout the year.
1.) Acknowledge Accomplishments and Express Gratitude
Acknowledge employee contributions. Whether they made a big sale, completed a major project, or wowed a client with their hard work and great communication, take the time to congratulate them on their accomplishment.
There are a number of ways to express your gratitude for your employees’ hard work. Here are just a few:
- Thank-you notes. Take the time to write a personal note that conveys your genuine appreciation and recognition of their hard work. Whether it’s an actual piece of paper or an e-card, thanking staff with a thoughtful note can go a long way.
- Thank them publicly. It’s important to make your recognition public, especially when your staff has accomplished something significant. Announce it at a team meeting, in your next newsletter, or on social media. You might even consider creating a “wall of fame” of sorts, either on a physical wall or on your website, where you announce employee accomplishments.
- Keep track of goal progress and wins. Keep everyone updated on the progress of team or individual goals, congratulating them on the work they have done thus far. Maybe even use a visual device like the thermometers nonprofits often use to track donations. Keeping track of progress like this can build excitement and a sense of pride among your staff.
2.) Celebrate Work Anniversaries
Newer generations of workers are moving around more throughout their careers, rather than staying in one job long term. Reward employees for sticking around by celebrating their work anniversary each year. This not only makes them feel appreciated, it shows the rest of your staff that you value dedication and loyalty.
Make a company-wide announcement for each employee’s work anniversary, thanking them for their continued contribution to your company. In addition, consider posting a congratulatory announcement on social media with a photo and a few words sharing how long the employee has been with you and what you appreciate about them.
3.) Give Financial Incentives
Sometimes, the best way to show your appreciation for a job well done is with a financial incentive.
Start small by offering gift cards to local restaurants or shops for employees who reach a goal, make a difficult client happy, or otherwise go above and beyond in the day-to-day of their jobs. Giving gift cards is an easy and relatively cheap way to show recognition for your employees’ hard work.
For bigger accomplishments, such as reaching a substantial sales goal or making another significant contribution, consider offering quarterly, annual, or project-based bonuses.
4.) Pay for Continued Education
Show your employees you appreciate them so much that you want to help them grow in their careers. Reward those who have a drive for education and improvement by sending them to conferences, enrolling them in continuing education courses (in person or online), offering tuition reimbursement, or giving them opportunities to develop new skills by cross-training with other co-workers.
And as staff members increase their qualifications, promote them! Nothing makes an employee feel less appreciated than working hard to improve only to be left with no options for advancement.
5.) Give Your Employees a Voice
Genuine appreciation involves more than just periodically handing out rewards…it needs to be built into the foundation of your culture. One of the best ways to do that is to give your employees a voice in your business by listening to their ideas or concerns and taking action on them.
Offer multiple ways to collect feedback from your employees, including at least one anonymous route such as a suggestion box or survey. This gives your employees a safe way to freely share concerns or ideas they may not otherwise feel comfortable sharing.
If you decide to take regular surveys, be sure to include questions surrounding teamwork, leadership, and career growth. Also include open-ended questions like “What are we doing well?” and “What do we need to improve?”.
When your employees feel heard, they will be more likely to want to contribute to the success of your company.
6.) Offer Mental Health Support to All Employees
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of good mental health in the workplace.
At Tech Dump, we began offering therapy to our staff during the summer of 2021, when our Work Readiness Employees (like many of us) were stretched to their limits. Many of our employees began taking part in therapy through Creative Kuponya, our therapy provider, and we plan to continue offering this support in 2022.
In addition to offering your employees therapy, here are a few more ways you can support mental health in the workplace:
- Train managers on what to do if they see signs of emotional distress in staff
- Make sure mental health care is included in your health insurance plan
- Help reduce mental health stigma by talking about it regularly
- Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Promote overall well being by offering schedule flexibility, mindfulness activities, encouraging staff to use their vacation time, and so on.
Supporting the mental health of employees shows that you care about more than their productivity. And employees who are well cared for are more likely to feel satisfied in their work.
7.) Add a Floating Holiday This Year
One of the most valuable ways to show your staff you appreciate them is by giving them more time off. For many employees, more time to spend with family, friends, hobbies, or whatever they like is more valuable than financial rewards.
This year, at Tech Dump, we’re adding a floating holiday — a paid day off that each employee can take whenever they want. This is, of course, in addition to the usual paid holidays and other time off we already offer our staff.
Another way to give employees more of their time back is to allow them to work remotely or adopt a flexible schedule (if their position allows for that).
8.) Ice Cream Fridays!
Don’t forget that employee appreciation can be FUN!
One way we show our staff we love them here at Tech Dump is with Ice Cream Fridays. You could do pizza Fridays if you like…or any kind of treat on any day for that matter. The idea is to offer your staff a treat just because you appreciate them — not as part of a required meeting or because they finished a project — just because you are grateful for them.
You can do this regularly (weekly, monthly) or randomly throughout the year. (Who doesn’t love a surprise treat?) This kind of fun, no-strings-attached treat not only shows your staff you appreciate them, it has the added bonus of boosting morale, bringing your staff together, and strengthening their interpersonal relationships.
9.) Celebrate Holidays With Employee Gatherings…and Lots of Great Food
Another fun way to show your employees you love them is by celebrating holidays with an employee gathering and plenty of great food. Get a cake or have a meal catered in so everyone in the office can take part in the fun. And, ideally, have the celebration during work hours so employees don’t have to come back to work when they would normally be home with their families.
In addition to holidays, consider having a few random gatherings throughout the year. Celebrate meeting a project or sales goal, throw an afternoon party just because, or have a happy hour gathering during the last hour of work for the day. Choose a day and time when staff might be struggling to get through the week or day, like a Wednesday or Friday afternoon.
How Will You Show Your Employees You Love Them This Year?
We hope this list gives you some good ideas for showing your employees how much you appreciate them! You don’t have to do them all — simply choose a few to incorporate this year, and notice the effect it has on employee morale and job satisfaction. You won’t regret it.