Last Friday, 3 March, was Employee Appreciation Day. The celebration of employee efforts and contribution to industry was started in the US, but is rapidly also being adopted this side of the Atlantic.
While the concept is laudable, for me personally I struggle with the idea that anything as important as appreciating our employees should be restricted to the confines of just one day. I recognise that the theory behind such a day is to ensure employee appreciation is front of mind but, frankly, if we need a day in the calendar to show our employees that we appreciate them, then there is something fundamentally wrong with our working practises.
An organisation depends on its people
People are an organisation’s most important resource, and the success of any organisation will depend on its people. Maslow’s model shows us that a sense of belonging and esteem is vital when it comes to employee motivation. It therefore stands to reason that, if we want our employees to deliver, we owe it to them to give them that sense of appreciation not just one day a year, but every day.
The great thing about employee appreciation is that, despite what you might read or hear to the contrary, it doesn’t need to cost the earth. In fact, some of the most valued ways of letting your employees know how grateful you are for everything they do don’t actually cost anything at all. Here are seven things all managers can do to show your employees just how appreciated they really are:
Say thank you
Saying thank you costs nothing – but can mean everything. Take time out from your day to thank someone for their contribution. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
When handled correctly, giving someone increased responsibility – say for a particular project – is an opportunity to show them how much you value them within the business. ‘I’d like you to lead this project, because I know you’re the best person to ensure it’s delivered successfully’ can make a huge impact.
If an employee’s gone out of their way to work around the clock to deliver a critical piece of work, make sure you return that flexibility. Next time they need some time away from the office to deal with their life outside of work, proffer that up in advance. Show them that you don’t take for granted what they did, and that you will always look to ensure that flexibility is two way.
Words alone will go a long way to make an employee feel appreciated, but there are times when these also need to be backed up by reward. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a substantial pay increase. When we talk reward, we’re actually talking about anything with a monetary value which drives employee motivation. Sometimes the gift of, for example, an additional day’s holiday, can mean just as much – if not more – than an extra £100 on their salary each month.
Receiving a personal thank you is great. Sometimes, though, if you want to really make an impact, look at how you can publicly recognise your employees at work. This drives similar behaviours with others, and really acknowledges just how great their delivery in the workplace has been.
Praise great behaviours
With our high performers, we sometimes fall into the trap of leaving them to their own devices and focusing solely on our poor performing employees. Don’t forget to praise. Remember the last time you were praised for a job well done, and how great it made you feel. The impact of praising someone can be long lasting and far reaching.
Employees know when their manager is merely paying lip service, and when they genuinely care about their wellbeing. Taking the time to ask how someone is at the start of each day, getting to know them as a person, and picking up quickly when they appear to be struggling, make that employee feel truly appreciated, and can turn an average manager into a great manager.