Employee Appreciation Day, which falls on the first Friday in March, is a day for companies and bosses to say thanks to the members of their team for all their hard work.
It’s a tried-and-true way of demonstrating to your employees that you care, but the approach many companies take to Employee Appreciation Day leaves a lot to be desired.
Here’s the issue:
According to one poll, 48% of American workers never feel appreciated at work. But when they do, they stick around longer and are more productive.
Keeping the members of your team happy can’t be accomplished by ticking a box marked “appreciate employees” once per year. It should be interwoven with the daily work your people do.
Here are five strategic employee appreciation tactics that should be interwoven into your overarching business objectives the other 364 days of the year.
Tactic #1: Autonomy
In her book “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals,” psychologist and speaker Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that “autonomy is about experiencing a feeling of volition, of authenticity, of choice…It’s believing that you are the origin of your own actions.”
Simply put, people value blazing their own trail. It makes them more engaged with their work, as there’s more ownership for positive outcomes. As one study details, individuals who are engaged in what they do also experience greater physical and psychological wellbeing than those who lack control of what they do.
This kind of autonomous choice is a huge motivator, and employees who get the opportunity to exercise total power over aspects of a project or task feel appreciated for the work they do.
Tactic #2: Culture
The culture of your company is a key element in building 24/7 employee appreciation. No matter the industry, when companies put focus on an intentional organizational culture, the result is lower turnover and happier people.
A growing body of research suggests that having just a few disengaged or incompetent employees can sow the seeds of negative culture and potentially ruin the performance of a whole organization. That’s all the more reason to double-down on appreciating your employees.
Related: Download our ebook, “Ensuring Successful Business Transformations Through Powerhouse Culture,” to learn how a strong, thriving organizational culture can help companies navigate change.
Tactic #3: Respect
A study of 20,000 people across a wide array of industries and organizations discovered that the number one thing that people want from their leaders is respect, and half of employees don’t get that respect from their bosses.
The study found that being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, providing useful feedback or even opportunities for growth and development.
More respect equals higher engagement, and engaged employees feel appreciated year-round.
Tactic #4: Immediate Feedback
Today’s employees need proactive, continual and real-time feedback. A retrospective “good job” a week or two after a project is completed is nice, but, by then, it has lost its impact.
Younger generations put something on Instagram, and in 15 to 20 seconds, they’re expecting to know whether it’s good or not. If their workplace isn’t providing the same immediate employee feedback, there’s a problem.
Show your employees that you appreciate them by providing frequent, prompt and direct feedback on their work.
Related: Check out our interactive employee feedback infographic for more stunning facts about employee feedback and its importance in the modern workplace.
Tactic #5: Motivation
As he describes in his recent book, “Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations”, behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely sets up an experiment where employees are offered pizza, cash or praise from their boss as a motivator. Which incentive worked best? Surprisingly, it wasn’t cash—pizza and praise took the lead.
While you think you know what motivates your people, motivation really isn’t a one-size-fits-all tactic, and neither is appreciating your people. It’s really a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
Ariely echoes this sentiment concisely: “The more a company can offer employees an opportunity for meaning and connections, the harder those employees are likely to work and the more enduring their loyalty is likely to be.”
Employee Appreciation Day isn’t just a Friday in March. With a proactive approach, it’s an everyday occurrence.
Demonstrate that you appreciate your employees on a deeper level by recognizing and rewarding top performance in a wide array of areas, and you’ll see the bottom-line impact of a motivated, thriving team.
Jane Sarles Larson
As the Research Manager for ITA Group’s Marketing Strategy, Jane is on the forefront of market research and thought leadership. Her interest in neuroscience and how it applies to human behavior and engagement has led to the development of ITA Group’s approach to motivation called Motivology. Her 30+ years of international advertising, sales and marketing experience is second only to her knowledge of dark chocolate.