“I feel too appreciated at my job,” said no employee ever. Conversely, employees who don’t feel valued won’t be engaged and can become actively disengaged, sabotaging the company’s growth.
Feeling appreciated is a human need, and it can be a powerful motivator. Praise should be given generously, but only when well-deserved. A “participation trophy” that everyone gets means very little.
When appreciating your employees, it’s important to connect with them on their wavelength, in their comfort zone. So, here are 28 strategies that you can consider.
1. Give certificates / trophies / medals / pins
Give your employees tangible items that they can display. You can show your appreciation for their hard work upfront, and they’ll have a visual reminder of that for keeps.
2. Or action figures / oil paintings / caricatures
For a more unique and fun option, you can give your employees something that reflects their interests and personality. Besides, such gifts aren’t pegged to achievements, so you can give them to anyone, anytime.
3. Write cards / letters
This one is about personalisation. A handwritten card or letter demonstrates your sincerity, because your employees will know that you took the time to think about what to say and then painstakingly write it out. Even the quality of the paper can make a big difference.
4. Show them their impact
A good way to foster intrinsic motivation is to show employees the impact of their work. This can be in terms of their contribution to the company’s growth, but more importantly, show them how they’ve helped real people. Get testimonials from clients and team members and let your employees hear it!
5. Public acknowledgement
Don’t be afraid to give your employees public recognition. This can be impromptu following a job well done, or you can schedule specific meetings for employee appreciation.
6. Online shoutout
Spread the word beyond your organisation. Give shoutouts to employees who have done well on your website or social media platforms. This is something their family, friends, and future clients/customers can see too.
7. Reward care and selflessness
Don’t just celebrate performance. Make it a point to reward employees who collaborate well and help their team members to succeed, or otherwise show care and concern for their coworkers.
8. Reward personal achievements
Show your employees that you value them as people. Incentivise their personal goals and celebrate with them when they achieve them.
9. Support their passions
Let your employees pursue their passions at work, either to the benefit of a work project or simply as a break from the monotony of work that will still keep them sharp. Their passion can be anything from painting, to weightlifting, to woodworking – you just have to support them.
10. Endorse their capability
Your employees may humbly downplay their abilities and achievements, so it’s up to their managers to report on their successes and endorse them for future projects and promotions.
11. Identify and appreciate strengths
While skills can be developed, talent is something that people are born with. If something comes to them as easy as breathing, they may not even realise how good they are at it. Identify these innate strengths and appreciate them with certificates or other forms of recognition.
12. Play to their strengths
One of the best ways to make your employees feel valued is to give them opportunities to shine. When you ask them for help, it shows that you’re aware of their abilities, and it won’t be a chore for them either.
13. Spend time with your team
Don’t be afraid to pop into your team’s workspace once in a while and properly talk to them, about things beyond work. It’s important to be present, so if you can’t do face-to-face visits, consider video calls!
14. Have meaningful monikers
Maybe your team doesn’t have a nickname culture – it’s fine to call everyone by their name. However, meaningful monikers can inspire and reinforce elements of their identity for a morale boost. Nickname your team after successful designers, writers, salespeople, thinkers, and leaders.
15. Say thank you
Employee appreciation can be as simple as saying “thank you”. In fact, adding appreciative language into your workplace culture is so simple that it’s likely to stick and succeed, and so too will your employees grow in empathy and confidence.
16. Have fun
When your employees are giving their all day in, day out, you could let them have some fun for a change. This can come in the form of planned retreats and offsites, or it can be impromptu games and challenges when the tensions gets a bit too thick.
17. Support a good cause
Support your employees’ philanthropic pursuits either through financial donations, or by giving them time and other resources to do some good. Your employees get a chance to work on a passion project, and that can give them purpose and fulfilment.
18. Promote company values
Reaffirm your company ideals as you show your employees appreciation. This means rewarding behaviour that embodies the spirit of the company’s values, and ensuring that your rewards are in line with them too.
19. Integrate your company story
Help your employees feel connected to the founders and the company story. Integrate elements that helped shape the company into your rewards system, like offering trips to countries where key events happened, or giving them a taste of the founders’ experiences.
20. Encourage direct peer recognition
While it’s part of the manager’s role to execute employee appreciation, a company-wide culture of peer recognition is very wholesome. It’s also a lot more organic, because peers have more experience working with each other, and can give the most relevant compliments.
21. Keep records
Consider building something like a database of praise, where employees can recognise the achievements and effort of subordinates, peers, managers, and even themselves. This record can either be accessible to all to read or you can organise sharing sessions.
22. Anonymous box
If your office has a vent box, consider balancing out that negative energy with an anonymous box for praise! The difference between this and #21 is that here, employees get to keep the little notes and cards that their coworkers have caringly penned for them.
23. Introduce a recognition and reward system
Incorporate elements of gamification into a system where employees can give each other points, which can ultimately be redeemed for prizes. This can stimulate healthy competition, and makes the rewards that much more gratifying.
24. Ask your employees
If you’re not sure what will work, just ask your employees! They know best how they would like to be appreciated, and they might even have some unique ideas that will benefit the whole team.
25. Standardise processes, not actions
With a big company, or once your company scales up, it can be difficult to maintain the personal touch of employee appreciation while making sure everyone feels appreciated. The trick is to let managers customise specific initiatives to their team, but standardise the ideology and frameworks behind your strategy.
26. Personalise your initiatives
Even with the best intentions, if you give every employee the same cookie-cutter type of attention, it won’t feel genuine. Get to know each of your employees, and understand what makes them feel motivated and appreciated.
27. Be timely
Don’t wait more than a week to give recognition, or you may even forget! You can save the big displays for the end of the month or quarter, but don’t let achievements and hard work go unnoticed for that long. A simple “good job” will suffice to acknowledge them.
28. Reward effort
Employee appreciation is about more than just celebrating wins, it’s about showing your team that they’re valued. It’s just as important to reward effort as it is to reward results.
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