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Give Your Employee Recognition Program a Boost

Each year, the first Friday in March is deemed National Employee Appreciation Day. This day is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate your employees. While having a special day is nice, you don't need to wait until March to show your employees how much you value them. Earlier this summer, we talked about employee performance, and how communication is the cornerstone of the employee-employer relationship. Employees want to feel like a valued member of the team, and communicating employee appreciation in a timely and frequent manner, will have a huge impact on your organization. Whether you have an employee knocking a project out of the ballpark, or another employee quietly stepping in and picking up the slack, their work should be recognized.


"Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention." Gallup


Let's look at some ways you can show your appreciation.


One Size Doesn't Fit All

Most likely, there is a connection for your employees that made them want to work for you. It could be the products you make or the services you provide. Or maybe it is the company Mission that resonates with them. Tailor your Employee Appreciation Program to that Mission and company culture. Two examples of this come to mind. Burton Snowboards employees receive ski season passes and "snow days" as part of their program. REI launched an 'Opt Outside' campaign for their employees, by closing their doors on Black Friday and encouraging employees to spend the day outdoors.


Just like your company, your employees are unique and like to be recognized in different ways. Find out what is meaningful to them and personalize the appreciation to match.

Let's Hear It For the Peers Appreciation doesn't only come from the company owner or a manager. Peer to peer recognition is just as important. Like messages in a Valentine's Day box, peers can acknowledge the hard work or random acts of kindness done by their colleagues. Yes, you can use a message box or a whiteboard, or you can get creative with a video montage message. There are even some great free or low-cost online tools such as WooBoard and guusto that you can set up for your company.


Today's the Day

Celebrating special milestones in an employee's life is a nice way to show appreciation. Maybe you:

  • take them to their favorite lunch spot on their anniversary with the company

  • cater a lunch for all employees in the months where anniversaries fall

  • offer a paid day off for the employee's birthday

  • offer a surprise day off

  • partner with your customers and vendors to offer discounts on their services tied to a specific day

  • let them go shopping for company swag on their anniversary

An example of this, New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, gives employees a Fat Tire Cruiser bike for their one year anniversary.


Giving Is Receiving

Most employees have a passion for some type of community involvement, whether that's providing meals to the homeless, working at an animal shelter, or cleaning up local trails. You can support their interests by offering time off to volunteer. If employees have a charity they donate to annually, you could set up a donation matching program.


Center Stage

Some employees like being in the spotlight, while others prefer less conspicuous praise. For those that don't mind taking center stage, consider highlighting employees on your social media platforms. Or spotlight an employee's wins in the company newsletter or on your website. And don't forget the go-to oldies but goodies: employee-of-the-month plaque, trophy, and parking spot.

Less, Is Still a Lot

Your program doesn't have to be as extravagant as the Oprah show where "You get a car, and you get a car!" is the reward. The simple act of a handwritten thank you note goes a long way. Even dropping off a sticky note on the employee's desk or windshield shows you care.


Give one or two of these ideas a try, and share the outcome with us. Don't have an Employee Appreciation and Recognition program, or have one that needs an overhaul? We're all about communication and employee engagement and are here to help. Join the discussion on September 30th at 11:00, or set up a one-on-one with an HR Business Partner.

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