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Sometimes, we all need a reminder to pay attention to something (or someone) we have taken for granted. This month's article is a little refresher course about ways to show our employees that we are paying attention. Laura DiPersia shares with us some ideas on employee appreciation that we can use immediately or incorporate into longer-term policies and practices.
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Article of the Month
Word count: 879
Approximate Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Six Simple Ways to Appreciate Your Employees
by Laura DiPersia
The economy has not been kind to employees over the last several years. Whether it be a mandated furlough, no raise or increased cost of insurance benefits, your employees may not be feeling the love. That is why it is more important than ever to thank your employees and let them know they are appreciated. It is a win-win when employees feel appreciated by their employer because they are happier and by consequence more likely to stay with their current company. Steven Covey said “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Try these thank you/appreciation tips to boost employee morale and say thank you to your team.
- Write a Thank You Note with Meaning Too often we tell people they did a “great job” or we really “liked what they did”. Those are kind words, but they do not provide a specific reason as to what doing a “great job” actually means. Instead, take a few minutes to hand write a nice note card stating why and how your employee has done a great job and what impact it has had or will have on the company. For example, instead of, “Kathryn, great job on the new schedule” try, “Kathryn, I wanted to thank you for doing such a detailed job on the new schedule. By analyzing it the way you did and being willing to try a new approach the department is going to reduce overtime by 10%. You really did a great job!”
- Break up the Monotony Does it seem like all of your employees are low on energy? Break up the monotony of the work week by surprising your employees with an unexpected social event. Remember work celebrations to not have to be huge events with private caterers. Pick an afternoon and tell everyone there is a mandatory meeting and then surprise them by instead have a pizza party and showing a movie. Or bring in coffee and bagels one morning and encourage everyone to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before hitting the grind.
- Celebrate Birthdays! A simple way to recognize and thank your employees is to celebrate their birthdays. It may seem like a small thing but for many people birthday decorations, a cake or a gift transports them back to being a kid again, a feeling that comes rarely in adulthood. A few birthday celebration ideas include finding out (ahead of time) what some of your employees favorite things or hobbies are and creating a customized gift basket filled with related items such as candy, a magazine/book, movie tickets, tea/coffee etc. Another idea is to implement a Half Day Birthday policy that provides all employees with a coupon for 4 hours off to celebrate their birthday that can be used on their birthday or within the week following it. Finally, you usually can’t go wrong with food! Take your employee out to their favorite restaurant for an extended lunch.
- Turn the Tables. Want to do something to make a positive impression with your employees? Turn the tables and have the supervisors, managers and “top dogs” serve the employees who report to them. There are several fun options for this including preparing and serving a pancake breakfast or ice cream social. However, if you really want to give them something to talk about try a management carwash. Employees will line up to have their boss wash their car! One of the best parts of this appreciation idea is the low cost, making it ideal for organizations such as nonprofits where there often are limited employee appreciation budgets.
- Pick Them Up When They are Feeling Down. It’s been said that, “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” ~Unknown Pairing employee appreciation with a mistake may seem peculiar however it is in these very difficult moments when they need to know they are still valuable members of the team. Taking the time to be there with an encouraging word, feedback and support will reduce their fear, anxiety, and self-inflicted doubt, resulting in employees who realizes they are truly appreciated.
- See Them. What do you really know about your employees? Do they have kids? Where are they originally from? What do they enjoy doing when they are not at work? There is a difference between being best friends with someone you supervise (bad idea) and simply taking the time to recognize each of them as a person who has a life outside of work. If you are not quite sure where to start a few ideas to try include adding a celebrations section to an employee newsletter where employees can submit celebrations (think a child’s graduation, an engagement, a new grandbaby etc.), asking your employee what plans they have for the weekend, or finding out a bit more about your employee’s hobbies, then sharing information with them that you know they would appreciate, such as an article on an upcoming 5K if they are a runner or a concert of an artist they like.
Since employees are all different there is not any one tried and true, guaranteed way to make everyone feel appreciated, but you can be certain doing anything is better than doing nothing.
Bottom Line: The list of ways to recognize your employees is endless. All you need to do is start somewhere.
Laura DiPersia is an organizational development and employee relations consultant, whose work focuses on organizational development, process efficiency, employee relations, outcomes development and performance management.
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