Top 10 Ways to Show Employee Appreciation
Creating a positive work environment has never been more important than it is today. According to a recent study, being energized by work tasks and feeling a sense of belonging in a company continue to be the top drivers of well-being at work. As a new generation enters the workforce, there has been an increased push for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to become a foundational part of companies’ hiring, recruiting, and retention efforts. However, creating a positive work culture goes beyond DEI efforts, and it involves recognizing and appreciating your employees’ hard work and efforts. This article will explore ten practical ways to create and maintain a positive work environment, including interacting with your team, listening and acting on feedback, celebrating special occasions, offering career-enhancing opportunities, creating a mentoring program, and more. By the end of this article, you will better understand how to create a workplace that fosters positivity, employee satisfaction, and productivity.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 48 million workers in the US quit their jobs in 2021. To maintain a healthy work environment, managers need to understand why valued employees leave the company, while employees feel that management needs to appreciate and understand the hard work that they put in.
A Pew Research Center survey finds that feeling disrespected at work is a significant reason people quit, along with more tangible factors such as low pay and lack of career advancement. A Harvard Business Review paper found that these feelings of disrespect and disillusionment make a substantial difference in how management and staff perceive appreciation in the workplace.
Many corporate executives and HR directors are surprised to find out that the prime motivator for employees is feeling appreciated. When creating a culture of recognition and goodwill, you are helping to build an environment that attracts and retains top talent.
Benefits of an Appreciative Atmosphere
There are significant intangible benefits to fostering a workplace that thrives on showing appreciation.
When someone receives recognition for a job well done, they feel appreciated. Someone in the workplace who feels appreciated gets a confidence boost and, in turn, has a more enthusiastic approach to their job. High morale translates to employees being more likely to stay with the company.
Higher levels of engagement
When employees are regularly—not routinely—recognized and singled out for appreciation, it typically generates more significant levels of engagement for the entire team. More engagement also leads to a more profound connection and loyalty to the company.
Improved employee performance
Employees who believe that excellent performance will result in public recognition tend to work harder to achieve that level of success and productivity, yielding business growth and increasing employee opportunities.
How Managers Can Foster an Appreciative Environment
Managers should ask their employees how they want to be recognized when they go above and beyond expectations. The most important takeaway from a great deal of research on this topic is this: employees prefer a culture of appreciation more than a scheduled and routine party in the breakroom. They would instead work in an environment where excellence is noted in real-time in small ways, and the grand gesture—a simple acknowledgment of a job well done does more to boost morale than a plaque at the end of the year.
Here are ten ways you can demonstrate appreciation daily. Please note that these focus on something other than monetary rewards, as you already have an incentive plan. Instead, they are the small steps that, cumulatively, lead to a cohesive, engaged team that delivers results.
1. Change the Everyday Culture
Start at the executive level by spending more time with your team. Pay attention to everyone in your employ. You will soon spot employees who are always willing to stay late, lend a hand, or take the lead on everyday projects. Simply acknowledging that your employee is going above and beyond their job description does two things; it lets them know you are paying attention and reinforces that good work is rewarded. This recognition does not require balloons and a cake. You need to simply send a brief message to say thank you.
2. Interact With Your Team
Before the pandemic, it was easy for managers to interact with employees. Everyone was in the office most of the time. Remote work makes the easy chat in the breakroom a thing of the past, so managers need to make a point of checking in with employees regularly. This could be Zoom calls to check in or a video lunch and learn to collaborate and have some informal time to share stories and get to know each other.
Initiate social, online, or in-person team-building events so everyone can get together. This is particularly important if your staff works remotely and must build relationships reinforcing a positive work environment.
3. Listen and Act on What You Hear
Genuine appreciation is not a game of rewards. It’s an ongoing culture of letting employees have a voice and choice. Make sure your team has options for projects. Assign tasks by getting input from your employees. Listen to what employees say, and act on it. Incentive gift cards are great, but knowing you are heard feels more significant.
4. Tailor Rewards to Motivation
When you ask your employees for feedback regarding appreciation, note what individuals have to say. People have varying ideas of what “I appreciate all that you do” means in action. Some want time off or a financial gift. Others would like career development, while others may enjoy concert or sports event tickets. Regardless, show gratitude with something that indicates you are attentive to the person.
5. Celebrate Special Occasions
It is critically important to recognize employee anniversaries. Millennials and Gen Xers have a different sense of company loyalty than their parents. It is up to you to create an environment where that loyalty is reignited so you can retain your best talent as it matures. Make a big deal out of an anniversary (commensurate with years of service) so that the entire team feels that special appreciation will be theirs, too.
6. Offer Career-Enhancing Opportunities
Managers should offer career advancement courses and opportunities when an employee is interested in professional development. Setting up such a program for motivated employees—leadership training, online classes, and certifications—shows you are invested in their careers and are willing to help them succeed.
7. Write a Thank-You Note
A handwritten note is one way to let employees know you are grateful for their contributions to the company. Why? Because they are so rare in this age of dashing off a text, a note written on a personal notecard takes time and effort, letting the employee know you put some thought into it.
8. Encourage Continuing Education
Make professional education a priority for those who are interested. You can pay for classes or allow time off for events and school. Promote employees who complete continuing education. That is how you demonstrate appreciation. Employees who feel like you are interested in their success are more likely to stay with your company.
9. Create a Mentoring Program
Mentoring is a two-way street. It is an invaluable way to give experienced employees some authority and provide new hires a sense of security—that you care about their future with the company. A mentorship program is cyclical in that mentees soon become mentors, and it is a real-life way to show your employees that you value their experience. An added benefit is that mentoring shares generational knowledge.
10. Be Willing to Let Mistakes Go
When an employee makes a minor mistake—misses a deadline or forgets a small task—let it go. A reprimand is not necessary for all instances. Sometimes the best way to get past an error is to let the worker try again. This behavior demonstrates you value their skills and trust them to correct the mistake going forward.
Want to learn more about employee appreciation and beyond? Contact us at Vistatec.