While routine “job well done” encouragement goes a long way, intentional words, actions and celebrations to recognize your employees can be the extra boost your small business needs. Studies (lots of them) have shown that dedicated gratitude can significantly improve company culture and reduce internal turnover when the going gets tough.
Employee appreciation can be shown in many forms — and should be. That’s because, just as we all have a preferred love language, we also feel valued and supported in different ways.
Here are ideas and methods to spark your imagination. Depending on your business, you might mix and match according to what feels most natural to your team.
1. Keep tabs on the good.
You know your employee is a rock star, but when it comes time to say why — you blank. In the everyday grind, it can be tough to remember specific, tangible examples of above-and-beyond efforts. Keep a running note in your iPhone or notebook in your desk drawer when you see employees shine a little. A few weeks or months later, when you reference that example, it will mean that much more, and your people will feel lifted up and noticed.
2. Send a thank you card.
Don’t underestimate the value of a handwritten snail mail note!
3. Encourage play, but avoid forced fun.
You don’t have to go all “Silicon Valley” with video game consoles, ping-pong, or foosball. Those break room enhancements can be great, but they’re better received when you start off by asking your employees what they want. The results may surprise you.
4. Shout it out on social media.
Publicly congratulate members of your team with well-captioned photos on your company LinkedIn page. What’s their superpower? What could they give a TED Talk on? Off the clock, where can you find them? Brag-light on your brightest stars, and you’re putting your best foot forward.
5. Take a “favorite things” survey.
Whether you’re planning a quarterly dedicated appreciation or a big annual hoopla, send a survey that offers choices, including preferred games, treats, restaurants, etc. Put together an event that shows you were listening.
6. Create a company-wide sugar high with an ice cream social. Or host a Thursday afternoon appetizer hour. Or tell everyone to head home early one Friday.
7. Spark happiness, spur-of-the-moment.
A little goes a long way, especially when it’s been a long month or quarter. Is your team extra stretched hitting a major company milestone or working toward a big goal? Recognize that added hustle by treating the team to a catered lunch or giving folks a work-from-home day.
8. Remember your remote employees.
If your roster includes remote members, don’t forget to involve them. Do some homework on a local establishment they might frequent and send a class pack to their neighborhood spin studio or a gift card to their local coffee shop. You could always mail a care package complete with notes from the home office team.
9. Be super public with your love.
Tell the world what each team member does and why it’s valuable to the company. Put your team’s photos and bios on your website. Create a wall of fame in the building. Send a company-wide email.
10. Invest in your team.
Nothing says you value an employee quite like investing in their continuing education. Offer free tuition to an on-line class related to your business. Send employees to an industry conference or meeting.
11. Give gifts related to their interests, even small ones.
Maybe it’s tickets to the theater or a sporting event or just a favorite candy bar or a newly released book, but show employees you value them enough to learn what makes them tick.
12. Encourage your team to give shout-outs to each other.
13. Remember life events.
Small celebrations of birthdays or work anniversaries can ensure no one on the team goes unrecognized. And a simple card signed by the team, with flowers or without, is a meaningful way to show support to an employee whose family undergoes a personal tragedy.
Appreciated employees are inspired employees. The key is to give heartfelt and authentic appreciation — both regularly and sporadically. You’ll not only create a tight-knit workplace culture, but you’ll encourage your people to push more boundaries and work harder toward your company’s North Star.