6 Employee Appreciation Ideas to Create a Happy Workforce

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You — and your business — depend on your employees. Create a work culture that will keep them engaged, enthusiastic and employed with these helpful tips.

Everyone wants a happy workplace, but it’s not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. Employee engagement and retention is serious business.

As a boss, you are probably in the worst possible position to know what your employees think of their work and their workplace. Those who seem the most enthusiastic might be looking for the nearest exit, while chronic complainers might be thrilled with their job but have only a raw personality. You’re unlikely to feel comfortable being completely honest with yourself.

That’s why an employee satisfaction survey is a great starting point for your engagement efforts. This will help you know where things stand so you can make a plan to get where you want to be.

Your survey results will become an important part of the people analytics you use moving forward. Even if you lead a small team, your instincts and intuition won’t get you far. Use the best available data to power your HR decisions.

Once you have a better idea of ​​who your employees are and how they feel about their work, you’ll get more out of these engagement insights.

1. Employee recognition

Have you heard of the proofreader who died at his desk and was not found for five days? It was an apocryphal tale that made the rounds in water coolers when I worked in publishing. Unfortunately, this resonated with all employees.

Recognition usually comes in the form of special gifts or notices about work anniversaries, the start of a big project, or meeting a tight deadline. The classic example of a service award is the 20th anniversary gold watch. Gold watches are less common these days, but long-term employees are still a gold standard worth pursuing.

It is essential that employees know that their work is important. Taking the time to mark an anniversary with a staff luncheon or personalized token is a great way to recognize years of service.

The best employee recognition ideas, however, should start with the basics – recognition. As your business grows, try to stay familiar with your staff. Business guru Tom Peters advises his clients to exercise their MBWAs – Manage by walking. The more time you spend with your employees, the more they will feel understood and the better you will know your business.

2. Employee appreciation

If that dazzling new hire is making substantial contributions to your business right off the bat, don’t make them wait five years to hear about it. Every time a team member goes above and beyond is a reason to celebrate. Here are some staff appreciation ideas that might work for you:

  • Species: Maybe a little clumsy and unimaginative, but everyone has bills to pay. Give a bonus to the employee who has the best cost-cutting idea or give a percentage to a salesperson who lands a high-profile client. It’s not an expense; it is an investment.
  • Team reward: Depending on the achievement (and your budget), that could be a catered lunch, a tropical vacation, or two-ply tissues in the office restroom. Letting an employee earn an award for their entire team can build esprit de corps and boost morale. Be sure to single out your best player when presenting the award, so your teammates know who to thank.
  • PDF: An extra vacation day is sure to please, but you can tweak this idea. First dibs on vacation day selection could be a reward of choice, or simply offering a free shift out card that an employee can use on Black Friday, their birthday, or Superbowl Sunday could do the trick.
  • Advantages of the office: For onsite employees, there are always premium benefits on the table. Executive restroom keys? Corner desk? Personalized parking space? These are the classics, but you can get creative. Maybe your superstar would like a place to stash a bike or noise canceling headphones to silence the next cabin. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have some idea, but it’s okay to ask your colleagues for ideas.
  • Tchotchkes: Employee appreciation gifts, such as personalized pens, t-shirts, and mugs, are popular for a reason. People love them, and they’re very affordable. Consider these trinkets and try to find rewards that resonate with your staff or business.

3. Staff party

Evenings? Aren’t they so 1999? Not necessarily. The office Christmas party, characterized by an abundance of booze and the occasional abuse of photocopiers, is thankfully over. But people still like to have fun together, and you, the master of employee engagement, can make it happen. Here are some excuses for hosting an office party:

  • Retirement: No one should leave their office for the last time without a bit of fanfare. Saying a fond farewell to long-tenured workers sends them an important message of appreciation, and it’s a meaningful signal to those with shorter tenures that your company is a career, not just a paycheck.
  • Integration: Stacks of resumes, series of interviews, stacks of paperwork – this new hire deserves congratulations (and so do you!). Bring the coffee and bagels and introduce the new kid to his closest teammates in an informal way.
  • Holidays: Of course, the big ones are already on your calendar. But is your bakery pulling out all the stops for Pi Day (March 14)? Is your comic book store the most festive on Star Wars Day (May 4th? [be with you])? Are you leaving your full-stack developers to lunch alone on Linus Torvalds birthday (December 28)?
  • Birthdays: As your business grows, you may lose track of those special days, but your HR software can remind you. Even if it’s just a card or a cupcake, let your employees know you’re glad they’re there.
  • End of quarantine? Don’t let even major negative events undermine your team spirit. Celebrate all the silver linings you can find.

4. Team Recognition

Friendly competition can boost productivity. Give competing teams incentives for achieving small weekly or monthly goals.

You can tie these contests to specific business goals, such as sales volume or production goals. But you can also reward other valuable behaviors. Which service is best at backing up computers? Who is always the first to compliment another employee’s ideas or efforts? Which team gets the most positive customer responses?

Zoho People badges to boost the appreciation of your teammates.

Zoho People HR software offers fun employee appreciation badges and ideas for your team. Image source: author

If you have a wellness program, invite your teams to compete on these goals as well. Perhaps an interdepartmental milestone challenge will boost participation. And discover the options offered by your HR software. Zoho People, for example, shines with inspiration to show your employees that extra recognition.

5. Stage prizes

Career development is perhaps the most important factor in employee satisfaction and retention rate. If your star paralegal has just been accepted to law school, you should be the first to congratulate them. He or she could well be your new lawyer in three years. If any of your architects are working towards LEED certification in their spare time, recognize that extra effort and the value it brings to your business.

Internal promotions deserve more than a handshake and a raise. Make sure all staff publicly congratulate an employee who moves up another rung on the ladder.

Professional milestones, and even personal accomplishments, are important in the lives of your employees – and they should be for you, too.

6. Employee of the month

Everyone likes to do their job well. Having an employee of the month recognizes those who step outside the park while setting an example for recruits.

Be loud and proud of your top performers and share details about the behavior that earned them the title. You can offer a rotating prize — a flashy trophy for the office or a bespoke avatar for the company’s Slack channel — as a thank you. A tangible gift, such as a gift card, can add practical value to accolades.

Appreciate your employees like a boss

Take the time to learn more about your employees and create a workplace they love. You’ll see results on the bottom line, and you’ll find that you too can’t wait to get to work.

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