How to show employees genuine, meaningful appreciation

Drop the platitudes and pleasantries, and start prioritizing perks that remove obstacles, decrease stress and ease workers’ burdens.

How to show employees appreciation

Most corporate platitudes are useless.

“We care.”

“We treat our employees like family.”

“Our core values are integrity, honesty and best-in-class innovation.”

“Together, let’s make a difference.”

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused by the massive and sudden reduction in headcount.”

Talk is cheap. Companies can print or publish any number of pleasantries, but actions speak immeasurably louder than business bromides.

So, on this National Employee Appreciation Day, how about showing some genuine love, appreciation, respect, recognition and meaningful gratitude for those hardworking folks who form the backbone of your company? Beyond bumping salaries and benefits—and consistently thanking folks for their toil—let’s hear some expert opinions on how to support your workers.

Appreciate employees, or watch them leave

Meg Riat, HR director for Leaseweb USA, says uncovering what matters most to your specific workforce is crucial for engagement and retention.

“Fostering a company culture that goes beyond a comprehensive and competitive benefits package can go a long way toward not only attracting top talent, but also maintaining a thriving workforce,” she says. “Understanding what drives your employees, current and prospective, is crucial. Being able to understand, articulate and actuate on what drives your employees in a manner that is consistent with company core values is what separates organizations with an unstable workforce from those with a stable, thriving team.

“People value knowing they’re valued,” Riat says.

One person’s praise or prize could be another’s nightmare, so consider cultural and personality differences in your recognition.

Nicole Sahin, CEO of Globalization Partners, says:What is rewarding to one global team member can cause stress or even offense to another. For example, in the U.S., an individualist culture, being singled out is appreciated, but this is less true in countries that are highly team oriented. Team members from collectivist cultures might find it awkward or embarrassing to be called out, even for a heartfelt thank-you. In this instance an employer should consider thanking them as part of thanking the overall team instead.”

Instead of doling out the same recognition for everyone, take time to gain an accurate understanding of what gratitude looks like for your employees, she advises.

Sound mind and body

Jen Locklear, chief talent officer at ConnectWise, says to be mindful of employees’ overall wellness.

“Considering the health and well-being of your employees is a great way to show your appreciation for them. As an employer, we can influence how mental health issues are managed to help our people. While it’s true that people have huge struggles and daily battles with stress, anxiety and depression, more and more resources are becoming available to employers that can help our teams.”

She recommends using tools such as Ginger.io—which offers mental health support to colleagues—along with engagement platforms that provide space for anonymous feedback. Financial planning is another helpful perk, as it mitigates a “huge source of stress” for employees, she says.

If you’re not sure where to start with your recognition program, just ask employees what would be meaningful for them. Conduct a quick survey, or ask informally. You also can’t go wrong by prioritizing perks that remove obstacles, decrease stress and ease workers’ burdens.

More appreciation ideas

There are loads of affordable ways to show employees they are valued and important.

One profound gesture: Be gracious about time and scheduling. Treat employees like adults, let them work wherever they please and whenever is most convenient for them. This sort of flexibility is a substantial gesture of respect, empathy and trust, and it is a tremendous gift.

Without that foundation of trust, you can keep your snacks, ping-pong tables and other superficial freebies.

You also might consider these top work perks:

  • PTO
  • Healthy, free food and beverages
  • Gym or fitness memberships
  • Child care
  • Gifts or services (house cleaning, event tickets, assistance with errands, etc.)

You know what also never goes out of style? Handwritten “thank-you” notes. Being appreciative for long hours and dedication to a craft, no matter how boring or obscure. Showing gratitude for loyalty, punctuality and honesty. Celebrating and honoring mundane achievements that always go overlooked.

However you choose to recognize employees, just be consistent. Make it a habit. Put it on a schedule to ensure it happens.

Being thanked, appreciated, respected and valued will never get old. It’s an easy thing any company can do to boost morale, improve retention and elevate the vitality of your workplace.

Learn how to build trust and create a thriving culture at Ragan’s “Best Practices in Internal Communications and Culture Conference” April 21-23 in Mountain View, California.

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