employee appreciation day celebrating with confetti

The Truth About Employee Appreciation Day

The first Friday in March is officially Employee Appreciation Day. Here’s how to celebrate all year long.

“Work” has changed. Forever. With more employees working remotely and the line between “work” hours and “home” time becoming blurry, the need for companies to recognize and thank employees for their hard work in meaningful ways has never been more important.

The first Friday in March is officially Employee Appreciation Day, but the truth is that one day is not sufficient. For decades, behavioral scientists and organizational psychologists have tried to solve the problem of employees not feeling engaged at work. A recent study revealed that only 15 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, resulting in a tangible impact on business success.

Ensuring that employees have the information and tools necessary to do their work and feel personally engaged with their work must be focus areas for companies. For organizations to retain top talent and ultimately thrive, a culture of employee appreciation and recognition is vital.

Here are three ways to kick-start a positive culture shift through employee appreciation:

1. Praise is Powerful

Praise is one of the best ways to energize employees and encourage higher performance. While it is important for managers to verbally praise their direct reports for doing good work, it is also impactful to sing praises up the ladder so the praise comes back around to employees from others in the organization – especially upper management. Praise is free and can dramatically impact morale and employee retention.

A Gallup study found that only one in three workers in the U.S. and Germany strongly agreed that they received recognition or praise in the past seven days for doing good work. Those who disagreed are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. Personal recognition goes a long way to making employees feel appreciated. In turn, this can build trust and lead to increased motivation to continue striving for peak performance.

2. Focus on Values

Companies, like Motley Fool, that are integrating their corporate values into all aspects of the workplace are finding that employees are merging these values with their everyday behaviors. Those behaviors then get recognized which encourages increased employee engagement and results in better retention. In the increasing war for talent, having a comprehensive values-driven recognition program can help an organization stand out from its competitors and connect with prospective and current employees.

Values must be applied on a daily basis, not just highlighted on a company website, in order for employees to understand and feel personally committed to the company and the values it claims to embrace. Financial recognition is known to have short-term positive impact on employee performance and retention, but values-based recognition programs that reinforce and reward the desired behaviors have longer-lasting impact on key metrics and overall company morale.

3. Get Personal

Employees who feel like they are a vital and important part of the company are more likely to stay at their jobs longer and be more engaged overall. When a team member goes above and beyond, strive to make the recognition unique and applicable to that specific employee and situation. Generic emails and certificates lack a sense of real appreciation and fail to make an employee feel important.

Instead, consider hand-written notes and personalized tokens of appreciation, like a gift card to a favorite restaurant or store. Demonstrating that you know the individual and see this person as integral to the team and larger organization will leave a greater impact. Similarly, empowering employees to recognize and reward each other for work well done is a powerful tool. Peer-to-peer recognition such as the Zappos Coworker Bonus Program that allows employees to give each other $50 for above and beyond performance builds team morale and comradery.

Are you doing enough to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts? Connecting with your employees and showing them how much they mean to you is more critical now than ever. Successful employee recognition programs don’t need to be costly to positively impact morale, retention and overall corporate culture today and for the future.

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