In fact, studies show that deliberate and thoughtful employee appreciation efforts make members of your team more than twice as likely to continue working with your organization instead of searching for a different job. In this guide, we'll cover the best ways to show your employees that they matter, with strategies that range from bonus and incentive programs to staff parties, leadership opportunities, and more.
Showing Appreciation Can Improve Employee Retention
Employee retention has long been a primary focus for businesses in every industry, but especially so in the past three to four years. In the past year alone, more than 50 million Americans quit their jobs in what would become known as the Great Resignation, which is still ongoing. For those looking to keep their staff, an increasing number of studies point towards employee recognition and appreciation as one of the deciding factors in whether an employee stays or goes. One survey found that employees who have received recognition are 63% more likely to stay with their current employer!
Improve the Employee Experience with Staff Appreciation
Making your employees feel appreciated goes beyond retention; effective staff recognition strategies can significantly impact employee morale and enhance every facet of their working relationship with your business. Surveys indicate that employees who feel recognized for their hard work are more engaged and productive! Increased job satisfaction and overall happiness are also reported across the board from employees who receive recognition for their work at least once a week.
10 Popular Ways to Make Employees Feel Appreciated
Whether you're looking for a place to start or need some ideas to mix up your current recognition strategies, let's look at some of the most popular employee appreciation ideas around.
Ultimately, you know your team and your business best; whether you implement all of these ideas or only a few will depend on your means, your team’s needs and wants, and what works for your particular situation.
1) Offer Raises, Bonuses, and Incentives
If you're searching for the one strategy that offers the largest impact, this is it! While everyone certainly appreciates kudos and pats on the back, offering financial incentives is the best way to retain your team and encourage them to go the extra mile. This can take many different forms, but consider the following:
Communicate and offer clearly outlined, attainable, and realistic pay raise progressions and their accompanying requirements
Institute an employee recognition program that doles out bonuses for meeting particular goals or challenges
Host a contest with relevant goals for your business (sales, sign-ups, referrals, etc.) for your entire team to participate in. Post progress updates in the break room or another high-traffic space, and offer gift cards or other rewards for the employee or team with the best results
2) Give Small and Personalized Gifts
Team exercises are great and have their own place, but nothing says, "I see the extra effort you're putting in, and I appreciate it," like an individualized gift to the people on your team. Whether it's gift cards to someone's favorite restaurant or coffee shop, tickets to a local event they've been talking about, or something else fun and relevant to their interests, there are tons of creative ways to make your appreciation known and reward your staff for doing a great job!
3) Throw Celebrations and Staff Parties for Achievements
While you're celebrating individual achievements and performances, remember to take the time to give your whole team something to celebrate. Whether you want to plan these events ahead of time and set goals for your team to reach in order to make them happen,celebrations, parties, and events like Employee Appreciation Day all work wonders for raising team morale. These events can highlight and encouragegreat workand give public recognition of the accomplishments your team has brought to the table.
4) Offer Time Off or Extra Vacation Days
If you're anxious about poor morale or burnout amongst your staff members as you head into the busy season, consider this option to give your team a light at the end of the tunnel. Surveys conducted nationwide have found that burned-out employees are 70% more likely to quit their jobs – if retention is your goal, this is an essential factor to keep in mind. Of course, extra time off or a bonus vacation day don't have to be solely a response to a high-stress work environment; you can use perks like these at any time of the year to reward quality work and encourage those who go the extra mile!
5) Recognize Work Anniversaries and Milestones
To encourage a positive company culture, your employees should see your business as more than just a place to work. Foster a sense of ownership and commitment by recognizing and celebrating work anniversaries, project milestones, and other special occasions that pop up throughout the year. Consider highlighting the major contributions that individuals have made as they happen and remember to include remote employees to strengthen their bond with your in-person team.
6) Promote Employee Wellness
Health and wellness go hand in hand with happiness and quality of life. Bake these ideas into your company culture and encourage your employees to better themselves both at work and in their personal lives through wellness incentives. A few popular methods include step challenges, gym fee reimbursement plans, mental health resources, providing healthy snacks at the office, and more. Feel free to get creative with this one! Investing in your team’s wellness is an excellent way to boost employee happiness and promote a higher level of work satisfaction.
7) Treat Employees to Lunch or a Happy Hour
Sometimes, something as seemingly small as a team lunch or after-work happy hour can go a long way toward building and reinforcing a positive work environment and boosting employee morale. Pick a place with quality options for your entire team (pay special attention to any employees with additional dietary requirements and ensure your chosen spot can accommodate them) and, most importantly, try to keep these events casual. Steer clear of work or shop talk if you can help it, and don’t use these treats as opportunities to follow up on work-related issues. If done right, company lunches or happy hours can help bond new employees with their coworkers and make your team members feel like one united group.
8) Offer Flexibility and Remote Work Opportunities
With the pandemic came a boom in remote work that shows little sign of slowing down. Since then, employees across the country have come to appreciate the benefits, like better work-life balance and savings on a daily commute. If you want to improve staff morale and provide a top-tier working environment that will keep your team around for a long time, consider challenging the traditional nine-to-five. Examine your business model and see if it’sfeasible to offer more flexible work schedules or remote work options for your staff – if it is, your team’s work satisfaction could shoot up almost overnight!
9) Write Personalized Notes or Messages of Gratitude
A great low-budget option for approaching staff appreciation can be as simple as a handwritten note on a desk. Positive feedback doesn't have to be flashy or showy; many people can find satisfaction in a straightforward acknowledgment of their good work. This can also be a fun way to highlight some day-to-day accomplishments that your team makes; some businesses even take to social media with messages of gratitude for a job well done by particular employees.
10) Let Exemplary Employees Take the Lead on Projects
If you're looking to build up your best employees, help them learn new skills, and positively impact their career development and forward momentum, this is your winning ticket. Aside from providing undeniable recognition to members of your team that go above and beyond, trusting them with projects of their own is an excellent way to advance their abilities and gain them more real-world experience at an operating level just above where they typically work at. This is a win-win; if they do a good job, they gain experience, and the project gets done. If some issues arise or mistakes are made, lessons are learned for next time.
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