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Discover ideas that show your employees how much you appreciate them!
Every company relies on its talent to carry it to new heights. But if your organization’s employees feel unappreciated, it won’t be long before they start looking for other opportunities. According to Achievers’ 2022 State of Recognition Report, two-thirds of employees state that feeling appreciated would reduce their desire to job hunt, while more than half say appreciation would make them less likely to take a call from a headhunter.
How can you start realizing the benefits of employee appreciation at your company? The key is to recognize employees in ways they find personally meaningful. If recognition feels generic or disingenuous, it won’t have a lasting impact, and it may even result in further disengagement. But don’t worry — delivering personalized appreciation throughout your organization isn’t as hard as you might think. Here are 15 great employee appreciation ideas to suit any situation, team member, and budget.
1. Find out what employees want, and give it to them
You can try idea after idea until finding a few employee appreciation methods your team members respond to, but why beat around the bush? Instead of playing the guessing game, just have employees tell you how they’d like to be recognized. Asking team members directly is one method, whether in one-on-one settings or in group meetings, but this can be more than a bit inefficient and time-consuming. And many employees may be uncomfortable sharing their true thoughts without the protection anonymity offers.
Make it easy for team members to share their true thoughts on the forms of employee appreciation they really want with an employee engagement platform. Look for a solution that offers intuitive, effective ways to gather input from employees like pulse surveys and always-on, AI-powered feedback channels. And quickly build collaborative action plans to deliver what your employees are looking for — otherwise, they’re likely to doubt that their voices really matter.
The Power of Employee Appreciation: A Guide to Making Recognition a Core Part of Business Strategy
2. Say thanks in many different ways
One of the easiest ways to start practicing recognition at your company is by making a point of saying thank you and encouraging others to do the same. There are many ways to provide social recognition, like a quick chat in the hall or online, a social media shout-out, or a mention on the company website. But the best way to ensure appreciation comes from all levels, from an employee’s peers, to their boss, to their boss’s boss, is with a recognition and reward platform. Choose a solution that makes providing appreciation fun and intuitive wherever and whenever employees have the urge to say thanks, and ensure your platform lets team members combine messages of appreciation with monetary rewards.
3. Provide personalized rewards
The value of social recognition can’t be understated, and you can further boost its impact by linking employee appreciation with rewards. A rewards system should go far beyond the occasional bonus or raise, empowering the entire organization to support and recognize each other through points-based rewards. The best employee reward solutions let you give whatever number of points fit your budget to team members on a weekly or monthly basis. Employees can then award these points to others who have gone above and beyond, helped out, or exemplified company values in big or small ways. The recipient redeems their points for personalized rewards they actually want from a wide-ranging marketplace, saving your organization endless effort and spreading appreciation across the company.
4. Offer flexibility and work-life balance
One of the most genuine ways to show employee appreciation is by ensuring each team member has a healthy work-life balance. Additional PTO is an easy way to help give employees the mental and physical wellness a balanced life provides, but you can also offer flexibility regarding when and where they work. The freedom to work remotely part or all of the time and the ability to set their own working hours, within limits, are just a couple ideas for showing you value employees’ personal time as much as their work time.
For example, do you have a team member who has been dreaming of going abroad for a month, or even longer? What if they could switch up their work hours and work while they’re there? If the idea is feasible, implementing it is sure to leave a lasting, positive impression on an employee your company wants to retain over the long term.
5. Give out some fun awards
Employee appreciation should be an everyday practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some occasions stand out with the help of creative, meaningful employee awards. Awards that feature categories employees connect with and align with company values are an excellent public recognition tool, giving attention to those whose important contributions might otherwise go unnoticed.
Think outside the box, let employees provide input on award categories, and reward behaviors you want to see repeated with accolades like Exceptional Listener and Recognition Master. You should also establish a process for selecting award winners that is perceived as fair and involves all employees — few things handicap an awards program like a lack of trust in the results.
6. Feed your team members
Everyone loves a delicious treat, but with varying tastes, dietary preferences, and work locations, giving employees something to snack on is a bit more complicated than it might appear. Don’t impose on employees with a weekly, mandatory lunch or a box of snacks that only some team members will enjoy. Instead, keep things flexible by filling a cabinet with snacks at the office, reimbursing employees for a meal of their choice, or simply providing a stipend or reward points to use however they please. Or gather feedback from team members and act based on their input, whether they prefer a weekly coffee date with their team or a joint monthly trip to a favorite local restaurant.
7. Support employee wellness
Employee wellness programs support your team’s physical and mental health. They also add to your team’s work-life balance, helping them avoid burnout while feeling more focused. An employee wellness program can include everything from weekly guided mindfulness sessions to providing various critical health services, like vaccinations, in office.
However your company shapes its wellness initiatives, be sure to include an employee wellness platform that integrates with your organization’s employee recognition solution. When employees achieve their tracked wellness goals, they’ll love immediately receiving rewards that incentivize them to keep up the amazing work.
8. Game it up with exciting events and team-building activities
Whether your teams are remote, in-person, or hybrid, it’s important to make sure everyone feels a sense of connection and belonging. Setting up team-building activities is an easy, fun way to show appreciation while getting employees talking to each other and collaborating in a new setting. These activities can include everything from a weekly or monthly book club, to a brainstorming session, to group exercise.
The key to successful team-building activities is voluntary participation. No one likes mandatory fun, and if an employee feels like they need to go to something outside of work hours — or even during the work day — they’re likely to feel some resentment. If you find that few team members want to participate in activities you offer, that means that it’s time to either collect feedback on what types of events employees might enjoy or take the pulse of broader employee sentiment at your company.
9. Celebrate work anniversaries and other milestones
Failing to show genuine appreciation for employees when they reach an anniversary or other major milestone is a sure way to undermine the impact of any other forms of recognition your organization practices. It’s hard to believe any form of appreciation is genuine if the company fails to acknowledge something so basic. That’s why recognizing and honoring team members’ milestones is a foundational part of any effective employee appreciation strategy. When doing so, make the show of appreciation appropriate to the occasion. A 10-year anniversary deserved a substantial, personalized public display of recognition, while obtaining a new certificate after a three month course might instead simply merit a callout on your recognition platform together with a gift of reward points.
10. Invest in your employees with talent development
Rewarding employees by providing opportunities for professional growth keeps employees engaged with their work while developing the talent your organization relies on. There are a variety of ways to support professional development and establish clear career paths for your employees so they’ll feel motivated and engaged. Tuition reimbursement, giving each employee a professional development budget, and providing access to a learning management system or online courses are all options within the reach of any organization. You can also consider empowering your employees by giving them a say in their responsibilities or the next project they take on. Making an active investment in employees’ professional growth demonstrates your organization’s commitment to their ongoing success.
11. Make room for charity and volunteering
Everyone wants to give back in some form, but with work, family events, and other obligations, it’s often hard to find the time to do so. Let your team members contribute to a cause they’re passionate about while building your employer brand by giving employees one or more days a year off to volunteer. You can either gather input from team members before selecting an organization everyone believes in or allow team members to choose their own.
As with team-building activities, participating in a volunteer day should be strictly optional. For those who don’t enjoy volunteering or want to make an impact outside of their community, offer to match employee donations to their favorite charity or social cause. Or adopt a points-based reward system where team members can simply spend their points to donate to a wide range of great charities.
12. Send a care package employees will love
Sometimes, there’s no better way to show appreciation than with a heartfelt gift — the key word there being heartfelt. A random assortment of items given to each employee is likely to result in confusion, irritation, and more than a few objects finding their way into the trash bin. Find out what types of gifts and swag your employees would find useful and enjoyable with the help of an employee engagement platform. And whether you’re giving out chocolates, water bottles, or electronics, opt for quality over quantity.
13. Help team members create the office of their dreams
Whether employees get the job done at home or in the office, a comfortable, personalized workspace makes a significant difference when it comes to satisfaction and performance. Simply offering a stipend for leveling up the office shows that you appreciate how important an employee’s work environment is and helps team members be as productive as possible. You can also provide useful tools like computer monitors, keyboards, and more to ensure employees have everything they need for a smooth job experience. And if your workforce is fully or partially remote, consider covering the cost of co-working spaces so employees are guaranteed to have a great place to work and, potentially, collaborate in person.
14. Make employee appreciation day the highlight of the year
Employee Appreciation Day takes place on the first Friday of March every year. Make it a yearly highlight by using everything in your employee recognition toolkit, from donating to your employee’s favorite charities, to offering cash prizes or reward points, to setting up activities and events for team members to attend. If your company steps up its recognition game on employee appreciation day every year, employees won’t forget, and they’ll be more likely to stay motivated and respond to your other recognition initiatives in the interim.
15. Start a mentoring program
Giving people leaders the resources to support and coach other team members is a great way to foster collaboration and teamwork within your organization. Make sure to invest in proper mentorship training programs for your managers so they know how to best employ coaching techniques and strategies. There’s truly nothing that employees appreciate more on a daily basis than leaders that act as coaches that empower and teach rather than micromanagers that undermine and control.
Make employee appreciation easy and fun
Building a culture of appreciation is key to employee retention and your business’s bottom line. There’s no need for your company to reinvent the wheel when it comes to employee appreciation, however. Instead, turn to the experts behind the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. It features a comprehensive employee recognition solution with easy-to-use, engaging social recognition capabilities for the entire workforce. And great rewards are part of the package as well, with a points-based rewards system backed by a marketplace filled with options for every type of employee. It even includes a science-backed employee engagement platform for keeping your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment regarding your company’s recognition program, along with other key drivers of success and culture.