Go beyond the expected

Often, our annual holidays encourage a certain activity or response. Thanksgiving is a time when many of us pause and reflect on our blessings. Valentine’s Day is the time 5 Ideas for Employee Appreciation
that florists, chocolatiers and card shops love (but I don’t). There is something about spontaneous and unexpected (vs. scheduled and scripted) recognition that stimulates real joy! Full disclosure: I sent flowers last week with a card that read “Just because…”

Surveys show that employees tend to work harder when their managers express appreciation for their efforts. A study by online career site GlassDoor indicated that 80% of employees say they’re more motivated to increase their efforts at work when they receive some indication of appreciation. Appreciation also increases talent retention; over half of the employees surveyed said that they tend to stay longer with an employer when they feel appreciated.

There are a multitude of budget-friendly ways that managers or team members can use to show their appreciation. Here are 5 suggestions:

1) Thank You Card

This is simple, but can have a memorable impact when well worded and customized. Use a simple thank you card and write your own note, or there are custom cards that can be printed with your personal message. Leave it on someone’s keyboard or mail it to their home. If you’re ahead of the game and have already sent them notes in the past, why not share their achievements with a senior executive and facilitate them sending the card this time. No doubt, a card saying, “Your manager, Susan, shared with me what a great job you did..” will be a welcome message.

2) Gift Cards

Gift cards can be a great way to say thanks, ranging from $20 of coffee to dinner or a night at the movies. Or, if the accomplishment calls for a bigger budget thank you, be Special Efforts Show Appreciationcreative and find out what they would most enjoy. I received an unusual gift from my brother on my last birthday – a gift certificate for a helicopter ride, which I was able to share with one of my sons. You can also print and customize gift cards for anything from an executive parking spot for a week, to lunch with an executive team member, to a day off work. If you want some interesting presentation ideas, just google “Creative ways to package a gift card”.

3) Personal Services

At times, when someone has put in long hours on a project that has eaten into their personal and family time, consider recognizing them with a gift that will give some of that time back in another way. You can take some of the regular non-work burden off their plate by gifting them with housekeeping services, or enhance their family time with a visit from a personal chef who will create a customized meal at their home for family and friends.

4) Entertainment

Who doesn’t love an evening out – especially after working hard all week? Align an event with their interests: tickets for an NBA or NHL game for the sports fan, theater tickets for those who love the arts, or even a comedy night or popular music concert. If your organization has corporate seats or your marketing department has access to tickets, perhaps you can request some.

5) Travel

Employees often appreciate a break. This can range from a night in a nice local hotel, to a weekend with their spouse in a Bed & Breakfast, to airline points that will allow them to make their own getaway plans. After a long, successful project has been completed, they will love the opportunity to get away for a bit.

In a world where organizations wish to enhance talent engagement and productivity in their culture, showing appreciation goes a long way. In fact, when you expand creative appreciation to vendors or clients for special recognition, you advance your organizational culture of thankfulness as part of your brand. Be known as a thoughtful leader beyond just this Valentine’s day.

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