Thanksgiving is near and Americans are reminded to take a day to appreciate all we have. As it approaches, workers and employers are grateful they’ve weathered the unprecedented storm of the past 2+ years.
However your organization fared, don’t wait until the end of the month to recognize employees. Make November (and every month) a time to appreciate staff members.
Employees are the lifeblood of every organization. No matter what product is sold or service provided, it runs on the energy of people. Many SMBs found a new appreciation for workers as a result of the pandemic.
High levels of open positions versus low levels of willing applicants and potential hires made staff on hand invaluable. If you’re not reminding them every day how critically important they are (and you should), take time to make November a month of appreciation.
The high price of low levels of employee recognition
When people feel underappreciated at work it translates to low performance, poor engagement, and churn. When applicants are plentiful, you can afford a bit of turnover.
However, when they’re not, every loss impacts the bottom line. A recent survey found
2/3 of 2,000 American workers polled feel underappreciated by their employer on a daily basis. Another 59% said they have never had a boss they feel truly appreciates their work.
Almost half, 49%, admit they left a job because they felt undervalued. And 65% said they’d work harder if they felt they were appreciated. With no end in sight for talent shortages, appreciation has never been more important to retain and maximize talent.
On the plus side, there seems to be an easy fix. Employees just want to be seen and valued. The same survey found almost 30% of workers would willingly give up a week’s pay for more recognition at work.
The low cost of employee appreciation
A simple thank you is often enough to reward and motivate employees. The problem is often we stockpile thank you’s as though they were precious commodities. Your parents were right — please and thank you are magic words.
Share them often, for everything from the most basic task completed (like showing up on time!) to the most complicated duty. The harder the task, the more visible the recognition should be.
10 ways to show employees appreciation
Start with the small things, and build. Make time for public shout-outs when employees are keeping pace, helping each other, or just being a force for happiness.
When employees accomplish something major, make a major announcement. From hitting a 30-days-on-the-job milestone to landing a new client, recognition is key. Here are some other methods to try.
1. Bring in a healthy afternoon snack
You’re probably already bringing in the occasional lunch or breakfast bagel bonanza just to say thanks, but consider changing your game. The afternoon slump (2-3 pm) is a great time to show some employee appreciation.
Stop by the big box store on your way back from lunch and bring back a fruit or veggie tray (or both). The healthy snack can pull them out of the doldrums with a thank you on the side.
2. Send out an email or video to say thank you
In the wake of remote/hybrid work, has your company set routine meetings to the sidelines? Being short-staffed may have made it hard to get the team together with any frequency.
While most employees appreciate not having to sit through meetings that probably could have been an email, they may be missing out on the cheerleading session that should be built in to every team gathering.
If you can’t get them all together for a ‘we rock’ session, send out an email or video regularly to remind staff they’re seen and appreciated. From the silliest TikTok to the sincerest and lengthiest thank you, let staff know you want them to stop everything for a minute or 2 of recognition.
3. Show appreciation quietly to some employees
Some employees are introverted: these staff members may be uncomfortable with public acknowledgement of their achievements. That doesn’t mean they don’t need appreciation.
You likely already know who in your organization prefers more private connections. Work within their comfort zone to translate how grateful you are for the work they do, routinely and when there’s a special success.
4. Create a culture of recognition and appreciation
The Bonusly survey revealed that employees want to be recognized by management, but about as many would also like recognition from their peers. You create a culture of appreciation for each other by example. The more you’re known for recognition, the more you create an environment where it’s expected.
Message that you appreciate your staff and want to be more vocal about it. Remind employees they should do the same with each other.
But go beyond that. Encourage workers to let you (or one another) know when they need a boost. Remind them that we’re all in this together — if they can, give each other a round of applause when needed or earned.
Message that you appreciate your staff and want to be more vocal about it.
Appreciation shouldn’t be reserved for things you see or hear. Tell staff to let you know when their peers help, hit a milestone, or just make their day.
Recognition doesn’t have to be top-down: it should be peer-to-peer and bottom-up, as well. The success of your company depends on everyone. When you’re in it together, rooting for yourself as well as your peers and employees, it’s easier to get the job done and succeed.
5. Remember remote and hybrid workers
It can be easy to forget that remote workers need as much of a boost as on-site staff, some even more so. While there are many benefits to working from anywhere, it can be isolating. Some remote or hybrid workers may feel disconnected from their team.
Extra effort from management will be needed to keep them included, particularly with appreciation. Make sure to check in regularly with a thank you/job well done message that’s more than a robocall.
Take the time to single out a specific achievement, or just appreciation that they’re reliable. Don’t be afraid to remind the entire team that on-site or off-, everyone is making it happen.
6. Offer recognition as an incentive for employees
Employee appreciation should be a daily routine, but it can also be a means to an end for employers. If there are skills gaps within the organization, recognition can be an incentive for employees to upskill.
When the emphasis is on recognizing achievement, employees will look for ways to get in on the action. Increasing their skill set is a plus for them and the organization. All it takes is a bit of recognition to get them started.
7. Consider an employee mascot or other “props for props”
In addition to saying thank you, offering rewards, and bringing in the occasional goodies, there are other ways you can encourage recognition in your organization. Try some of these offbeat methods.
Props for props: an employee mascot that’s circulated throughout the office whenever someone does something extraordinary (or does something ordinary that just worked out well) is a fun way to keep a visual on appreciation.
A stuffed animal, noisy walking stick, or other large, visible prop at the desk or workstation says ‘I’m the best’ today. Consider a sash or employee vest for workers who are untethered to a desk. Embellish it with ‘#1’ sayings or silly buttons. Encourage employees to share it (or more than 1 of them) with each other as much as possible to keep the fun going.
8. Brag about employee accomplishments on social media
Go social: your social media pages are a great way to boast about your staff to a wider audience. That new employee who just hit their 90-day anniversary? Don’t just put up a photo outside the employee lunchroom — brag about it on social media.
Your social media pages are a great way to boast about your staff to a wider audience.
Another staffer just finished a rigorous training? Thumbs up on the company Facebook page. Not only will staff see they’re appreciated, potential new hires will want to join a company that celebrates their employees.
9. Offer extra paid break time to workers
Take advantage of the lull: if there’s a typical downtime in your business, like after the lunch rush, use it to reward employees.
Made it through a particularly tough crowd? Offer a 15-minute paid break to soak up some sunshine. Too cold outside? Offer siesta time indoors. The message is the same, whether they use the time or not: you see how hard they’re working and appreciate it.
10. Ask for employee input on how they’d like to be recognized
Be creative and ask for employee input on how they’d like to be recognized. A new vending machine in the break room might be on their wish list, or an occasional early release day.
Try to accommodate as much as feasible, bearing in mind that a bit of expense today could mean retaining skilled, trained employees tomorrow.
November reminds us to be thankful, but we shouldn’t let gratitude be a once-a-year event. Let your employees know how much they’re appreciated for the smallest achievements to the largest accomplishments, every day of the year.