Creating an optimal work environment that enables employees to be successful can be challenging. While performance appraisals, benefits, and team-building activities are great for showing that you value your employees as people first and contributors second, they’re not very personal or memorable.
Traditional employee recognition programs address these concerns by providing impersonal benefits (e.g., cash bonuses, fully paid holidays, etc.) that employees don’t take personally.
However, there are many other ways to show your employees you care about them as individuals and not just their contribution to the company.
Here are creative employee appreciation ideas and strategies to help you demonstrate your gratitude in a much more meaningful way than simply writing a check or handing out gift cards.
Plan To Recognize Your Staff
Before your employees are even hired, you can develop a reputation for being a company that actively recognizes its staff. It’s important to let candidates know that you value your employees and show appreciation to your team members. This will help you attract and retain the best employees available.
Offer A Gift Card
A gift card can show your appreciation for employees hard work and allow them to choose something that means something to them. You can offer gift cards to stores or restaurants that your employees like.
Otherwise put some money in a gift card account that they can use for any store or service. This is a great way to show appreciation without being too personal or spending too much money.
If you have a small team and want to offer gift cards, one way to do so is to put the gift cards in a jar and let them draw a card when they do something that warrants appreciation.
Be sure to communicate why you’re giving the gift card and make sure that employees understand that they don’t have to do anything special to receive one.
Start Every Meeting With Appreciation
This is something that we’ve been doing at Myprotein for a few years now, and we’ve seen the value in it first-hand. Every meeting at Myprotein begins with a round of gratitude, where each person on the meeting begins by thanking the person in front of them.
This has a number of benefits, including: Building trust, starting every meeting off on the right foot, creating a culture of appreciation, and (perhaps most importantly) setting the tone for the meeting.
When people see that you care about them, and you’re grateful for what they bring to the table, they feel valued, and it helps them do their best work and feel better about their day and the work they do.
Express Your Gratitude On Social Media
There are a number of ways you can express your gratitude on social media, such as Creating company and employee recognition-themed posts on your company’s social media pages or posting an employee recognition story each month.
Employee-created social media posts are a great way to show your employees that you care about them as individuals and not just their contribution to the company.
Employee Of The Month
This is one of the most traditional ways to show appreciation for employees. The employee of the month is recognized for the work that they do above and beyond, and you reward them for it by giving them a trophy, a special gift, or extra paid time off.
Choose one employee per month to be recognized and make it count. Make sure that everyone knows who the employee of the month is, why they’re being recognized, and what they did to earn the award.
You can also change up the way that you choose the employee of the month to make it more personal. For example, you can choose the employee who cared the most about their work in the past month, or the employee who did the most to improve the company.
Give The Gift Of Fitness
If your company has a gym or wellness center, you can partner with a local gym to give employees discounts or free membership. You can also partner with a walking or outdoor activity group in your area and give employees two free tickets to every event that the group has.
If you don’t have a gym or wellness center on site, you can still give the gift of fitness. For example, you can offer to pay for a fitness coach to come to your office or a nearby park and lead a walking or outdoor activity class. You can also give employees gift cards to fitness stores.
A Thank You Card
For smaller workplace achievements or simply every day, you can write a thank you card to an employee. This is a great way to show your appreciation for someone without having to spend a lot of money. You can write a card to an employee for any reason.
But it’s best to save this for events that are less work related and more personal. This is a great way to show appreciation to an employee who has been there a while or who is a close friend.
There are lots of ways to write a thank you card, but the key is to make it personal. Don’t just write a card to an employee because you have to, but because you truly want to show them that they are appreciated.
Throw A Work Party
Oftentimes, employees will put in countless hours of hard work, only to be forgotten or overlooked. Bad bosses have a tendency to forget everything but the bottom line.
Which can rob employees of the recognition they’ve rightfully earned. Instead of overlooking your employees achievements, celebrate them by throwing a work party.
A work party can be anything from a casual company picnic to a company bar crawl. The important thing is to organize the event around your employees interests, so it feels like a celebration that’s truly for them.
Have A Trophy
We all remember receiving trophies as kids for participating in sports or other activities. While we’re adults now and most of these trophies have long since been lost in moves or discarded.
Receiving one again can be a powerful experience. A trophy doesn’t have to be reserved for annual sales or company performance contests.
A trophy can be awarded for any employee achievement you think is noteworthy, like helping a co-worker with a project or closing a tough sale.
As long as you present the trophy as a “token of appreciation” and not “you won,” it can be a great way to show your employees they are appreciated.
Cover Educational Conferences
Many industries have annual conferences where employees can learn new skills and network with others in their field. While these conferences can be a great experience, they can also be expensive.
By covering the cost of conference fees, travel expenses, and/or lodging, you can enable your employees to attend a conference that might otherwise be out of their reach financially.
By doing so, you’re not only helping your employees learn new skills and grow professionally, you’re sending a message that you value their continued growth and development.
Offer Regular Training
Employees and managers alike can benefit from regular training that helps them improve their skills and better apply their knowledge on the job.
While some companies offer training for managers, many don’t offer anything for regular employees. If your employees are expected to be proficient in key areas, like safety, OSHA compliance, or customer service training, regular training can help them excel and avoid costly mistakes.
Give Employees Real Choice And Real Voice
Whether it’s letting employees take paid time off whenever they want or letting them bring a guest to your office every week, giving employees real choice and real voice shows that you really care about them.
Giving employees real choice and real voice is something that you can do for any employee at any time. Even if you’ve never met an employee, you can still show them that you care about them.
For example, you can let an employee who just had a child bring their child to work a couple of days a week, you can let an employee take a month off whenever they want, or you can let an employee choose their own hours as long as they get their work done.
Employee recognition should extend beyond the occasional pat on the back or gift at the holidays. By planning to recognize your staff throughout the year, you can show them that you care about them.
Remember that appreciation is a two-way street, so you’ll want to make sure to let your employees know you appreciate them as well. The best way to thank your employees is to be attentive to their needs.
Also provide them with the tools and motivation they need to succeed. If you can do that, your employees will feel appreciated, motivated, and eager to succeed for you and the company.