Why employee appreciation is now business-critical
As the first Friday in March, today marks Employee Appreciation Day 2022 and with it a whole host of advice on how to show gratitude to the diligence and efforts of your workforce.
There is no question the partnership of rewarding and recognising your workforce is becoming ever more important in today’s talent acquisition strategy.
It was, in fact, created in in America in 1995 by international employee recognition and retention expert Dr Bob Nelson, who was inspired to do so based on research proving the success of a company correlated with the satisfaction of its employees.
The profile of this day in the UK could have something to do with the fact that appreciating things sits deftly in between over emoting and not saying anything at all – a middle ground where a larger group of people can be praised.
But the ideology behind employee happiness and increased morale undoubtedly has growing significance as the jobs market continues to shift and stories of the ‘Great Resignation’ abound.
How can you say ‘thank you’?
Of course, the most common way we tend show appreciation to others is through saying ‘thank you’, so what can you do not just today but on a constant basis to show gratitude?
Anna Rasmussen, founder & CEO of coaching software OpenBlend says setting a culture of appreciation is critical for an accumulative effect to take place.
She said: “Employee appreciation is not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a business-critical ‘must-have’ and it comes in many forms.
“It might be something as simple as bringing someone a cup of coffee, forwarding a relevant article giving constructive feedback, or even just having someone’s back in a tricky time. It’s the small things that count in the long run.
“Of course, the shift to remote and hybrid work has removed some of the in-person appreciation methods that used to take place in the office. Because of this, it’s vitally important that managers and peers have an outlet to replicate these in the new world of work.”
Listening is your superpower
Listening to what your workforce actually wants as a ‘thank you’ is also key.
Liz Sebag‑Montefiore, director of HR consultants 10eighty said: “Strategies to retain top talent are listening to what employees want.
“As an employer, I want employees to feel they are included and they have a voice within the organisation. Loyalty is two-way street – you get it by giving it.
“Employers need to invest in individual growth and development and have career development conversations with their reports – employees need to let managers know what skills they’d like to develop and to see if their job can be sculpted around this.”
Practical elements of reward are also important to implement at business strategy level that creates a ‘show not tell’ mentality.
Jeff Dewing is the CEO of Cloudfm said: “Remember actions always speak louder than words. Show people they are valued and you care.
“Put colleagues’ welfare and happiness before your own, and they will be behind you. Blanket policies and statements won’t demonstrate this. But taking he team for a meal or giving them a bonus. They are part of a family, not just employee numbers on a profit and loss sheet.
“We recently had instances where a few women were easing back from maternity leave and we offered each of them the flexibility to work a few days a week, the hours dependent on what personally suits them. We worked around them because you are going to get the best out of employees when they have sorted life and are happy.”
Create a purpose-led business
The impact of these decisions has also been key when it comes to hiring top talent for CloudFM.
Jeff said: “In the last two years, I’ve employed two or three senior executives who have been way out of my league in terms of capability, knowledge, network and salary. But they’ve all joined this business for less than half of their salary because they believe in the purpose.
“Don’t get me wrong you need to pay staff well and you need attractive salaries that draw people who will match your drive, enthusiasm and expertise. But money isn’t everything – it needs to be more than transactional. You need to create an environment where people feel valued, trusted and can grow.”
Putting these kinds of behaviours at the heart of how you engage with employees can also create a fun working environment that allows people to be recognised individually.
Alex Pusenjak, global VP of people & culture at Fluent Commerce, said: “We have a ‘Kudos’ channel on Slack where any team member can call out a team member for a job well done.
“This channel has new posts on it every day and has been effective while we’ve been working at home across different countries and time zones.
“Similarly, we have a ‘Coffee and Gratitude’ Zoom call on a Monday morning to connect with colleagues and talk about anything non-work related and everyone gets a day’s leave to celebrate their birthday.”
James Malia, UK MD of eGifting platform Prezzee, said: “We have an ongoing program in one of our Slack channels where employees can provide short, transparent, and visible recognition to their colleagues.
“We also have a CEO recognition program whereby our CEO chooses to recognise someone that they believe has gone the extra mile. Receiving acknowledgement from the business leader is always received well and helps boost morale.”