The skills and contributions of your employees are varied and remarkable, as your appreciation must be. Give careful consideration to the personality type and individual preferences of your employees before handing out a “cookie cutter” award that misses the mark.
1- Don’t Save Appreciation for One Day a Year
Giving out appreciation and awards on March 4th may not make much of an impact if the rest of the year is dedicated to creating a miserable workplace. If your employees step up and go beyond the scope of their jobs to complete a big project, celebrate it!
2- Don’t Make It Top Down
Managers, supervisors and executives are people, too. All employees need to value their co-workers. If you’ve got a culture in place that makes it impossible to have a simple human connection between the CEO and the mail clerk, appreciation will be difficult because communication is blocked. Shed the executive job description shell and get to know people as people. Communication and appreciation will flow much more smoothly.
3- Build Rapport with Peer To Peer Recognition
Encourage employees to promote the projects and work efforts of their fellow employees. Knowing that the person in the next pod appreciates and notices your efforts is a great way to build friendships, rapport and connections in the office, which is a strong indicator of employment stability.
4- Don’t Give Everyone a Standard Trophy
Everyone in your organization adds some sort of value beyond the work they churn out. Some may provide comic relief; others might calm everyone down by their steadfastness. Some people are great in a crisis. Kilbourne & Kilbourne said, “Appreciate the special talents offered by each of your special people.” This proves that you’ve noticed their efforts to bring something unique to the table.
5- Do Make It Personal
For some employees, lunch with the boss is a big deal and a great way to recognize effort. For others, it’s another appointment they have to make and may be a source of worry. Work is stressful! Give a busy working parent a gift card to a bookstore and half a day off and let them enjoy some solitude. Foodies might enjoy a gift basket or a nice bottle of wine. Appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be targeted.
6- Send Someone A Note
Sometimes, material appreciation is not appropriate. However, if you know an employee or co-worker is struggling with a difficult situation, a hand-written note letting them know that you’re thinking about them. If possible offer to run errands or stay late to help with a challenging project if your co-worker is buried or just needs to get home quickly.
7- Go Public in the Right Setting
Some people will never be comfortable winning an award in front of the whole firm. If your organization is large, considering handing out awards by department. Winners will still be celebrated but introverts won’t be embarrassed.
8- Invite Everyone to the Celebration
Depending on the structural breakdown between professionals and support staff, hourly workers may be omitted from some events. On the whole this makes sense; not every meeting requires all employees. However, support staff belongs in every celebration. Once you develop a celebration habit with a regular schedule, invite support staff to make their own recommendations and, of course, include them in the winner’s circle.
9- Socialize on the Clock
Include awards and celebrations during working hours. Taking a fifteen minute break to celebrate a co-worker is a great way to build rapport, give people a chance to stand and stretch and not create a lunch appointment or after-work event that employees feel pressured to attend. For many employees, the end of the work day requires them to move into care-giving mode for children or elderly parents. Don’t ask people to prioritize an after-work event over their family.
Appreciating your leaders, co-workers and employees can reduce turnover and improve morale. Whatever your methodology, well-planned employee recognition is a terrific process to build loyalty, strengthen connections and keep your best employees adding value while feeling valued.