5 Ways to Rock Employee Recognition

by Daniel Hannig

We have all been there, workin’ the 9 to 5 just to stay alive. And nothing makes your work suffer more than when you push yourself too hard. The struggle is real, we get it. But thankfully we have a day where all the hard work and long hours are celebrated and recognized.

May 1st: International Employee Appreciation Day, a holiday which is meant to be used as a time when employers and managers celebrate the efforts of their staff — strengthening the bond between bosses and workers.

And the next one is coming up! On May 2nd, 2018.

Truly appreciating your employees should not be celebrated only once a year. It is something you should do every day. Recognition is a fundamental human need we all crave and employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued.

Gallup poll showed 65% of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work. And that feeling quickly leads to pervasive negativity, low morale and (worst of all) decreased productivity.

Organisations across the world see the need to improve their employee engagement and make an impact in their personal and working life. Employee recognition is a vital part of keeping your employees motivated and engaged but how do you keep them inspired and productive when “thank you” or “good job” is not enough? A 2012 Global Workforce Study done by Willis Tower Watson says “a well-implemented staff appreciation program has the power to impact many aspects of business from morale, to productivity, engagement, and even retention.”

Here at Honestly, we value our team members just as much as our customers. We believe in the power of engagement and occasional work parties, where we recognize each other and celebrate our accomplishments or milestones. We don’t let any successful achievement go unnoticed. And neither should you!

Not sure how to show your employees the recognition they deserve? Lead the revolution. Here are some ideas to inspire your team next time (or any time) someone and/or something deserves recognition.

1. Show appreciation by feeding them


Provide delicious noms to tide your employees over. (We all know how hard it can be to eat healthy at work)

Stock the break room with nutritious and tasty snacks or have mid-week treats. Waffle Wednesday? Taco Tuesday? The possibilities are endless. Or simply cater lunch to the office once or twice a month (if the budget allows it, of course) This is an easy way to say “thank you” for the work they do. After all, one way to an employee’s heart is through their stomach.

ThousandEyes, an IT performance management company that helps its clients recognize network’s issues and find solutions to problems, believes a good healthy sustenance is key for their employees. Which means lunch is free and catered every day, and if you’re working late, dinner gets comped. The office also has an intense espresso machine and their employees also get “Latte Art” classes. That’s a latte take in.

With that being said, happy hour and dinners are also highly encouraged. Located in the heart of Palo Alto, the Pinterest office is home to 70+ employees—and a crazy massive amount of pinning. The startup’s enthusiastic team members get a weekly happy hour plus inclusive Q&A sessions with the founders, where employees get honest answers to their questions.

2. Award your team with a ‘Thank You’ note


Sometimes it’s the little things that truly matter. With all sorts of new technology, our communication has shifted to mail, texts and phone calls. And thank you notes still remain the same, a rarity. But you can change that!

With so many emails and so little time, when something as rare as a nice letter crosses your desk, it’s an event worth paying attention to. The simple act of reflecting a nice gesture is in fact proven to make you happier. (Who would know that?)

Send a thoughtful written “Thank You” note to show your employees how great of a job they are doing. And help bring “Thank You” notes back from the brink of extinction.

If you don’t know what to say, well, here you go:

Dear, (person who did a good job) Thank you very much for (your hard work, staying late, kind gesture, etc) I really appreciate it and I’m truly grateful.

Sincerely, (Your Name Here)

We encourage you to write your own notes, do not have the secretary write them for you. The only way you can get out of this, is if you don’t have any hands.

3. Display recognition by empowering them


In the words of Spiderman’s uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”

A superhero’s toughest challenges are accountability and risk taking. But they are empowered by their people and their reliance on you as their superhero.

John Timpson, a multinational retailer that specializes in shoe repairs, key cutting and repairing has been empowering his team for decades and has published books based on his extraordinary empowering practices and management style, known as ‘upside-down management’, which has been key to creating a strong employer brand without so many rules.

The shoe boss is a strong believer of choosing frontline shop staff who have personality and says this relaxation strategy initially fell on deaf ears as the employees didn’t trust this new regime, however, a further rule got the wheels of change moving:

“Staff are actively encouraged to use their initiative and try new ideas. “If the ideas work, tell me. If they don’t work, just stop.”

Timpson also explained how the key to success of the business is in choosing frontline shop staff who have personality. “You can train for the job, but you can’t train for personality” he adds.

Employee empowerment is a key strategy to enable people who have the need, the answers, and the knowledge, to make decisions about how to best serve customers. Don’t just talk empowerment, DO empower your team. Showing someone that you trust their opinion and expertise is far more valuable than any other perk.

By giving authorization in decision making, you will unleash a widespread desire on the part of employees to lead and you will be surprised at how many employees step up.

4. Gift your employees with time off


It’s unfortunate that we can’t vacation whenever we want. If you let your employees to overwork themselves, you’re just going to burn them out and eventually get a disservice to their boss, career, and health.

Taking time off helps refocus your goals and gain perspective. As Timi Gustafson, R.D., noted on the Huffington Post, “Forward-thinking companies like Google are well known for their efforts to enhance creativity by giving employees time off to pursue ideas of their own, regardless the outcome. Some of their most successful innovations have come out of that policy.” So basically, take time off, and invent the next Google’s self-driving car, right?

By granting your employees some extra time off, they will be able to reset themselves mentally and their focus and feel WAY more productive when they return. Nothing can lead to an anxiety attack faster than working a million days all in a row. So granting even one day off can help reset your employees mentally, and make it easier to have a clear head once back at work.

5. Provide a fun work environment


The words “work” and “fun” shouldn’t be antonymous.

From a fairly young age, our childhood dream jobs were probably crushed by the reality of having to decide a more realistic career to study at university. Choosing a specific degree can be quite difficult for most teenagers and young adults.

For several organizations, the idea of having fun is not always entertained. There’s even a survey from PGI that went as far as to say 88 per cent of millenials want a fun and social work environment, compared to just 60 per cent of boomers (people born between approximately 1946 and 1964).

Well, that explains a lot.

What’s more, 71 per cent of millennials said they would like a “second family” made-up of co-workers.

Some people keep an uptight environment and others require a serious straight face at all times. No job is perfect, we get it. Even the great ones have downsides but if the benefits outweigh the negatives, then you’re all set!

According to research published in the book “301 Ways to Have Fun at Work,” there is a direct link between the extent to which employees have fun and:

  • Work productively
  • Deliver good customer service
  • Exercise their creativity
  • Provide innovation within their job role

Here are a couple of ways to create a fun and enjoyable work environment!

  • Add excitement to activities such as training or volunteering.
  • Office Dog. An office pet keeps everyone interacting, talking, and allows people to take a break from the stress of work.
  • Look into creating a company club. Got anybody who likes to bake or play a sport? Gather your employees, see who brings the best muffins and rate them. Fresh treats for everyone!
  • Gamification. This trendy buzzword strategy is used by brands to motivate employees create healthy competition among teams, generate buzz or social proof, and encourage customer loyalty, among other benefits.

Whether it’s building a custom Barbie house using the resources provided, or looking for specific things in a scavenger hunt – it simply works. Because work should be fun, don’t wait until International Fun at Work Day (April 1st) incorporate fun into your workplace, one picnic at a time.

Over To You

There are countless ways to show your support and appreciation towards your team. The opportunities are endless and limited only by your imagination. Mix it up! Weigh in and tell us how you’ve successfully recognized your team, employees and co-workers and what recognition means to you. No matter what your budget may be, there are always affordable options for boosting team appreciation.


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