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Unwrapping the Gift of Employee Appreciation

December 27, 2018 Nancy Pratt

How many times do we hear grumblings like ‘my boss doesn’t appreciate what I do,’ or other complaints voicing the need for more recognition and appreciation? It happens all too often in organizations, large and small, and across all industries. It’s not limited to entry-level jobs, but those in mid-level and upper-level positions experience the need for appreciation as well as frustration when it’s not shown. Sometimes our attempts at showing appreciation are less than stellar, and our employees see it. But demonstrating appreciation for your employees can be a gift, not just for them but for you as well. “How is it a gift for me?” you may be wondering.

Let’s think about the last time you thanked someone in your workplace. Can you say that on a daily basis you acknowledge your employees’ contributions in some way and show you value them…and would your employees back you up on that?

The types of appreciation are many – individual vs. group, personal vs. organized, structured programs, planned vs. spontaneous, tangible vs. intangible, and one size doesn’t fit all – just like a gift. Perhaps it’s time to mix it up a little. If you think this doesn’t apply to you because your company doesn’t have anything “set up” for recognition, the good news is that the ball is in your court! You’re not limited by what your company provides. You can demonstrate appreciation no matter your level within the organization. You can also be an advocate for setting up a more formal program, but even if that’s not you or that takes time to get approved, why not start personally with individual small things?

Having a regular corporate recognition program shouldn’t exempt you anyway from providing a heartfelt verbal thank you, surprising someone with a personalized thank you note, leaving a quick thank you sticky note on their desk maybe even with a snack bar or piece of candy or a mint, or even sending them a thank you email while copying their boss (if that’s not you). These may be quite traditional but can still be useful if actually done. Other ideas to be considered include praising them in front of coworkers, treating them to a cup of coffee or even a lunch now and then (or just inviting them to eat lunch together with you in the break room or your office even if you both bring lunch), or surprising them with a lottery ticket.

Is there a way you can provide an opportunity to multiply the appreciation that you show? If you took a selfie with a sign that says ‘thank you’ or ‘we appreciate you’ or ‘great job’ (you get the idea) and sent the picture to your employee, chances are your employee may think about sharing that with a spouse, partner, or other family because they’re proud of it, which means even more recognition. Consider a shout out on social media for a great job or simply a group photo of a work event where they participated. The small, yet unexpected gestures can have a big impact.

Depending on your business, maybe providing a more flexible work schedule one day or allowing extra time off could be valued options. Is it possible to provide a small company-branded item like a pen, notepad, stress ball, invite them to work on a special project or task force, or provide a designated parking spot for the week? Think about hanging on your office board a small picture of each of your employees or a group picture of the team. This action can show that you’re proud of them and interested in them – you care. Ask your employees individually what you can do for them and how you can help remove barriers. This is fundamental in a servant leader driven organization and is another way to show you appreciate what they do.

When appreciation is happening regularly, and that becomes the culture for your team, the gift is returned to you. It’s not just something you gave to them, but a way that you invested in yourself, your team and the company. The resulting gift yields stronger relationships built, deeper connections made, increased loyalty, extra effort, improved attitude because of the positive environment, continued to drive to keep pushing through the challenges, one more reason not to start looking for employment elsewhere, and overall a more highly engaged employee. And why? Because you invested in a little appreciation.   

Taking the time to show appreciation demonstrates that the employee is a priority to you which often translates into the employee making you, the team, and the company a priority for them. The gift of appreciation that you gave has multiplied and been returned to you.