March 1 is Employee Appreciation Day, which is a great opportunity to boost office morale and productivity at the same time.
Your employees, after all, are your boots on the ground. They’re the ones who calm anxious clients, fix paper jams, and do the countless little – and not so little – things to keep the ship afloat.
“Companies with a solid strategy to recognize team members enjoy stronger engagement, increased employee morale, better customer service, and lower turnover,” according to SnackNation. “Acknowledging achievement can have serious ROI – to the tune of 50 percent higher productivity and as much as 20 percent increase in business outcomes.”
The best employee recognition is not necessarily money or an off-the-shelf trinket that is here today and thrown away tomorrow. It’s something that acknowledges the hard work your team puts in every day. It can be a gesture, a kind word, an extra day off – something that makes them feel valued and respect.
This year, why not flex your creative muscles on Employee Appreciation Day.
For instance, how about a John Grisham book exchange? Just go to your nearest Goodwill or Thrift Shop – there are always plenty of Grisham titles available. Buy a basketful and wrap them festively. Throw an office party with pizza, cake, the works. Employees each get a book they can keep or swap as they wish.
Everybody goes home with smiles, full bellies and a copy of The Client, The Rainmaker or Skipping Christmas.
A Dozen Creative Ways to Say “You Rock!”
Some other suggestions, courtesy of Ashley Bell and SnackNation.
- Give them a Bonusly. The software platform Bonusly is part-game, part-motivator, and 100 percent fun. Employees can send small “bonuses” in the form of rewards points to each other in honor of everyday wins and successes. Bonusly points can be redeemed for gifts and services (Uber, Nike, Starbucks).
- Give them a Good Stuff Book. The company Cloud 9 Living maintains a Good Stuff Book in which employees are encouraged to record the good deeds and accomplishments – whether personal or work-related - of their office mates. Sharing the contents of the Good Stuff Book with the entire team offers meaningful, peer-to-peer appreciation.
- Create a Go the Extra Mile Program. At the Staten Island University Hospital Radiology Lab, when someone hits a milestone or goes above beyond, they’re nominated for a Go the Extra Mile (GEM) certificate.
- Give a shout out on social media. Post a Facebook tribute. Use Skype or Zoom to include relatives and remote workers.
- Honor their passions. “Omelet gives its employees two hours each week to work on a project they’re passionate about – and it doesn’t even have to relate to a client.”
- Acknowledge them on your website. Put their picture and achievements on the homepage.
- Give them a personal sketch, drawing or caricature. Even better: bring the artist in to create the works on the spot.
- Make a donation in their name. To a charity, a nonprofit, or a run/walk event. Let them choose.
- Recognize their other gifts. The tech company Open DNS showcases its employees’ talents in music, dance, sports and the arts.
- Take a group field trip. To a ballgame, a new restaurant or a movie.
- Give superlative award that is aligned with their unique job skills. Suggestions from Bell: “Room-commanding, public speaking, human-calculator math skills, Einstein ideas, networking.”
- Write them a letter. A personal note means much more than a store-bought card.
What do you plan to do for Employee Appreciation Day?