March 5 is National Employee Appreciation Day – a time to celebrate your most precious resource, the people who toil day after day to build products, sell and deliver services, help customers, solve problems, and drive business results.
While cards, flowers, muffins or Starbuck gift cards on Friday are a lovely gesture, what employees want even more is an experience of appreciation as something that’s not reserved for an annual holiday; rather, as something that can – and should – be expressed every day of the year.
So, here are 10 ways you can demonstrate employee appreciation – starting today!
Offer meaningful work. People want to feel like they are making a contribution and a difference. Even mundane tasks can be infused with a sense of purpose when you help employees understand how their work connects with the customer, mission, and big picture.
Facilitate ongoing development. One of the top reasons employees either stay or a leave a role boils down to the ability to continuously learn and grow. A commitment to development allows people to elevate both their contribution to the organization and their level of engagement.
Inspire trust. My own research suggests that across the generational spectrum, one of the things employees value more than anything else is working for someone whom they trust. So, demonstrate appreciation by being that person. Show concern. Keep confidences. Do what you say. Be consistent. Small daily actions can quickly inspire trusting relationships.
Provide appropriate challenges. Boredom undermines job satisfaction. And too frequently leaders don’t understand that offering opportunities to stretch and push personal boundaries is not only welcome, but it can also enhance job performance.
Demonstrate respect. It doesn’t matter what you do on Employee Appreciation Day if the rest of the year people feel discounted, disrespected and treated unfairly. Consider carefully how you speak to and interact with others. Understand and honor differences. Find ways to consult employees about issues that affect their work. Honor commitments. It’s as simple as remembering – and acting upon – the Golden Rule.
Ensure their ability to perform the job. There’s little that’s more frustrating than not having the tools, time, or budget to do one’s job well. And yet, day after day that’s the experience of many employees. Providing necessary resources allows people to deliver the results you need while triggering greater efficacy and engagement.
Enable flexibility. While the past year has ushered in new ways of working remotely, location isn’t the only factor employees might wish to control. When the work gets done. How the work gets done. With whom the work gets done. Allowing flexibility in these areas as well is a great way to say ‘thank you’ while promoting greater autonomy and results.
Share candid feedback. Employees crave feedback. Even when the message is difficult, it shows you’re paying attention and that you care. Highly effective employees are particularly energized by access to specific information that can elevate performance. So, learn how to offer constructive feedback well and use the skill liberally.
Offer recognition generously. The other side of the feedback coin is recognition. In my 30 years of consulting with organizations, I’ve never come across a person who reported getting too much recognition. Short conversations or notes that spotlight successes in a way that’s authentic, specific, and personalized is a powerful way to express appreciation any day.
Promote a healthy culture. Toxic workplaces take a tremendous toll on the health, wellbeing and productivity of employees worldwide. Leaders can change this by promoting human and humane processes, insisting upon fair, respectful and civil interactions, and reinforcing constructive values. Enough leaders doing enough of this can together create a healthy culture that will allow all employees to thrive.
This week offers a wonderful opportunity to send a message of appreciation to your employees. But keep in mind that the job of celebrating the value of your staff isn’t finished when you log off on Friday afternoon. Plan to keep it going Monday and every day thereafter by practicing these ten strategies.