If your customers are the fuel that propels your business forward, your employees are the engine. Without their effort and ingenuity, your business wouldn’t even be running. That’s why it’s crucial to show your employees how much you value them as individuals and as workers.
Employee Appreciation Day is coming up on March 5th—and there are countless ways to celebrate.
Why is employee appreciation important?
Employee appreciation isn’t just a nice gesture—it’s critical to your employees’ wellbeing and to your company’s bottom line.
It’s a simple but powerful equation: when you care for your employees, employees are happier and more productive at work. In fact, employees who feel like they can be their authentic selves on the job are 4.4 times more likely to perform their best work, according to Salesforce’s 2017 Workplace Equality and Values Report.
And when employees are engaged at work and invested in your company’s success, your entire business benefits. A 2018 Gallup poll found that businesses with employees in the top quartile of engagement have 21% higher profitability than those in the bottom quartile. Having loyal, happy employees means more satisfied customers, lower job turnover, and less money spent on recruitment, hiring, and training.
How to improve employee satisfaction and celebrate Employee Appreciation Day
Improving employee satisfaction across your company comes down to showing your appreciation—financially, professionally, and personally. Here are eight powerful employee appreciation ideas to get started:
1. Survey your employees
The first step to taking better care of your employees is figuring out what they want. Consider sending out an anonymous email survey to your employees asking for their candid feedback on your company’s benefits, workplace culture, growth opportunities, schedule, and management.
From there, you can review the data and look for patterns or problem areas. For example, maybe your employees are content with their salaries but want more autonomy at work. Or perhaps you’re noticing a lot of complaints around health insurance, but positive responses around the collaborative company culture.
Surveying your employees can help you identify issues and formulate a plan to address them. Don’t forget to follow up with your employees. In addition to executing changes, check in with them every month or quarter to see how they’re doing.
2. Invest in employee recognition
Employee recognition is essential to employee satisfaction. Eighty-two percent of employees in a 2019 Bonusly survey said they’re happier at work when they’re recognized. When employees are happy, retention rates go up. According to the same survey, 63% of employees who were regularly recognized at work said they were unlikely to look for a new job, whereas 43% of employees who were never or rarely recognized said they were extremely likely to seek out work elsewhere.
Acknowledging your employees doesn’t have to be complicated. You can praise someone’s work during a company-wide meeting, deliver a handwritten thank you note for a job well done, or give your employees a half day off after a particularly hectic month or quarter.
Other ideas include celebrating your employees’ work anniversaries, handing out annual bonuses, and acknowledging important life milestones with balloons or a card. You could even create a peer-to-peer recognition program where you encourage employees to nominate each other for a monthly or quarterly employee appreciation reward.
3. Offer flexible work hours
As more businesses move online, employees are craving flexible work hours. In a 2019 survey from FlexJobs, 72% of workers said a flexible schedule is their second most desired work option behind full-time remote work. Giving your employees more autonomy and flexibility over their work schedule can improve their happiness and potentially increase their productivity.
Depending on your business, you could offer extended working hours throughout the day to accommodate differences in schedules, take individual preferences into account when assigning shifts, or give your employees the option to work remotely one or two days a week.
4. Expand your employee wellness resources
Supporting your employees’ health is a long-term investment in your business’s success. Seventy-nine percent of employees surveyed in Perkbox’s 2020 workplace stress report said they regularly deal with work-related stress. And it’s only gotten worse over the past year. Sixty-seven percent of employees surveyed said they’re more stressed now than before the pandemic, according to the MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study 2020.
In addition to providing comprehensive health coverage, consider what else you can do to support your employees’ overall wellbeing. Maybe you could offer your employees a monthly health and wellness stipend to use on virtual fitness classes, workout equipment, therapy, books, or spa treatments. Or maybe you can partner with another company to offer discounted or free yoga classes or guided meditations to your employees.
5. Provide regular feedback
Giving your employees regular feedback on their work can help them stay engaged and accountable. Without consistent feedback or guidance, they might feel lost, overwhelmed, or undervalued at work.
In addition to delivering feedback during annual performance reviews, start scheduling weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings to check in with your employees, praise them for their excellent work, and offer suggestions or guidance for what they can improve upon.
It’s also helpful to share feedback as it comes up organically. If an employee gives a good presentation, for example, or takes exceptional care of a customer, take the time to acknowledge their efforts in the moment. On the other hand, if an employee botches a client call or shows up late to a shift, you may want to pull them aside right away for a chat. Just make sure you deliver your constructive criticism with discretion and compassion.
6. Offer childcare help or family assistance
Showing your employees you appreciate them isn’t just about praising them at work—it’s also about making their personal lives easier and more enjoyable. One of the best ways to do that is by offering family assistance. Giving your employees the tools to better support their loved ones can reduce their stress and help them stay engaged at work.
In the MetLife study, 69% of employees surveyed said they would appreciate the option to have subsidized care for their family. That could be help with childcare, pet care, or in-home care for ill or disabled family members. Sit down with your HR director to review your company’s health insurance package and see where you could offer assistance, whether it’s a stipend for daycare or paid leave for family care.
7. Enhance your extras
Offering work perks and exciting benefits can go a long way toward making your employees feel supported, especially during the pandemic. Even small gestures of thoughtfulness can make employees feel seen and valued.
If your employees work from home, you could send them care packages for holidays or give them gift cards to order groceries or buy take-out meals. You could also offer entertainment stipends, paid lunches, productivity supplies, or employee appreciation gifts like reusable water bottles and cozy blankets.
8. Support personal development and growth
A great way to show your employees appreciation is to invest in their personal and professional growth. Sixty-five percent of employees surveyed in the MetLife study said they’re interested in professional development reimbursements as a work benefit.
As an employer, it’s a win/win. When you support your employees in achieving their goals, not only do you make them happy, you also reap the benefits of their growth and skills. To start, consider sponsoring a course or program for your employees. They might want to undergo leadership training or take a class that teaches a specialized skill like coding or copywriting.
Appreciation goes far
Employee appreciation translates to company success. Instead of putting your employee appreciation efforts on the back burner, make it a priority to treat your employees to something special and acknowledge their hard work. Your business will be better for it in the long run.
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