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Employee Appreciation Gestures that Meaningfully Promote Engagement

Employee Appreciation Gestures that Meaningfully Promote Engagement

Marcy Lerner
Employee Engagement and Wellness in the Workplace

Employee engagement is one of the most important factors in any successful company – and one of the most difficult to attain, apparently.   In 2018, a Gallup study on employee engagement indicated that only 34% of employees were actively engaged with their employers – meaning that they were committed to their workplace and felt positive enthusiasm for their job – and that was a relatively high percentage!  While 13% of employees were actively disengaged – miserable and seeking actively to leave – the majority of employees, 52%, were not engaged. This is a passive category, where employees are not actively unhappy, but not particularly invested in their role either. They tend to do the minimum amount of work required, and do not put effort into promoting or improving their workplace. 

The key factors behind improvements in employee engagement include:

  • Relationships with peers and colleagues 
  • Relationship with immediate manager 
  • Trust in senior management 
  • Recognition and appreciation 
  • Shared company culture and values 
  • A physically well and comfortable place to work 
  • Development opportunities 

Employee appreciation at the workplace is so important, in fact, that companies – and employees – now recognize Employee Appreciation Day, a day in March designed to recognize and appreciate the hard work and business contribution that employees make every day. Some companies, in fact, celebrate Employee Appreciation Week. That said, a successful employee will make every day Employee Appreciation Day. Noted entrepreneur Richard Branson, on employee appreciation, has said that he puts his staff first, customers second, and shareholders third – and that’s his secret for company success. 

Work is an important part of our lives. The average person spends a third of their lives, or 90,000 hours, at a workplace. Employee Appreciation Day is an important reminder—a call to action—to make work a great place for everyone. 

If you’re an executive, C-level leader, or HR or People leader

Employee engagement and appreciation is vital to the success of your company—as well as your own happiness and productivity at work. After all, you’re an employee too.

Employee appreciation, ideally, should be a mix of repeated benefits, policies, values, and programs, as well as special one-off or infrequent events.  

If you suspect that employee engagement could be improved at your own workplace, consider distributing an anonymous benchmarking survey (the eNPS, which is a one-question survey that gives a rating from -100 to 100, is a good option). 

If you’re an employee 

Employee Appreciation Day is for you. It’s worth inquiring about what your workplace has planned for this important event – and to make suggestions about what would make you feel valued as an employee. Managers and executives value your guidance – it doesn’t make sense for them to invest in personalized company belt buckles, for example, if that’s not something you value as an employee.  After all, employee appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all enterprise. Gallup says that “the most effective recognition is honest, authentic, and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized.

So how should you celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or Employee Appreciation Week) at your office?  We’ll give you XXXXX NUMBER ways – some of these require planning, some can be done last-minute, and all of them are affordable ways to show appreciation for employees and improve engagement. There is no better time to start, or enhance, workplace culture and appreciation than today. 

Saying thank you

Openly thanking employees seems like a simple thing to do – but it’s not done nearly enough. Make saying thank you part of your culture.

Write an actual thank-you note. Start with the words “I appreciate you” and say something specific about why you value this person at the workplace. These don’t have to be just between employees and their direct managers – they can be shared between any two colleagues.  For Employee Appreciation Day, why not start this tradition?

Do you have a Slack channel?  Set up a special channel devoted to sharing triumphs and great things your employees have done. A study in Psychological Science showed that seeing an online thank-you, or a “like,” creates a burst of endorphins – a hormone that promotes happiness -and your Slack compliments do the same thing. There are also companies that have more structured ways to share thank-yous – Leapsome and Kudos, for example. 

Give awards 

Beyond the “employee of the month” award, get creative with other types of employee awards, such as “Best Team Player”, or “Going the Extra Mile”. Take the time to announce them at a company-wide meeting and share the special stories that helped your employees merit the award.

Celebrate milestones 

Employees feel appreciated when, for example, you celebrate their anniversary of hiring at the company, or a promotion they’ve received, and connect to colleagues as they receive congratulations. 

Showing trust 

Senior managers and executives can also build trust with each other and employees in the following ways. 

  • Skip the micromanagement. When you trust an employee to take over a task without micromanaging, they’ll know that you appreciate their work, and feel much more loyal to you for giving them autonomy.  In fact, micromanagement lowers morale and makes employees more likely to quit.
  • Connect. Show that you’re all in it together, and that you understand what your employees are doing and the challenges they face. That might mean helping to make sales phone calls, or assisting on a customer service shift. 
  • Be transparent and open. Share metrics, progress, and obstacles – like board meeting notes, and financial results. 

Giving everyone a turn to speak

It sounds small, but it means so much. Studies have shown that women, minorities, and people who telecommute are more often interrupted or passed over in meetings. Make sure everyone on the team has an opportunity to speak their opinions and thoughts, and they will feel deeply appreciated.

 Mentoring employees

Investing in employees through mentorship shows that you care about their future in the company. Whether you set up a peer mentorship program or more formalized program to teach specific skills, your employees will appreciate the gesture.

 Skip-levels

Everyone wants to be heard. Implementing skip-level meetings, where an employee occasionally meets up with someone two levels above them, is a great way to keep communication lines open between people in the company. For example, an individual contributor would have a 1-1 meeting with their boss’ boss (aka the grandboss), to check in on how everything is going.

A better and weller workplace 

Take these steps to build a culture of employee appreciation through better workplace wellness. 

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Nutritious office snacks

Upgrade office snacks. Spring for better grade coffee. Skip the stale pretzels, and consider healthy and delicious treats like fruit and nuts.

Allow work from home 

Studies have shown that spending a day or two working from home can raise employee productivity and reduce illnesses, both stress-related and physical.  If you don’t have an official Work From Home policy, Employee Appreciation Day is a great day to announce one. 

Standing desks

Standing desks are an increasingly popular benefit at work – largely because of studies about the deleterious effect of constant sitting on health. While the actual full benefits of the standing desk are still in question, employees will appreciate the option – prices range from about $200 to $1000. According to Alpa Patel, PhD, of the American Cancer Society, “While we continue to learn what is driving this relationship, it’s clear that cutting down on the time you spend sitting is good for your health.”

Wellness programs

As work and life become increasingly intertwined, a workplace that appreciates employees will take steps to bring wellness into the workplace. 

 As work and life become increasingly intertwined, a workplace that appreciates employees will take steps to bring wellness into the workplace. 

Chair massages

Massages always deliver. Zeel brings you the best corporate massage office chair massage at your workplace. Employees love massages at the office – not only does it feel good, but massages takes care of the workplace back pain caused by hunching over keyboards all day. Massages also improves mood and boosts the immune system – perfect for fighting those nasty office colds

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness, very simply, is the ability to “be” in the moment and process what is happening in a non-reactive, calm manner. This is most often attained through meditation. Mindfulness improves the ability to regulate emotions, reduces depression, anxiety, and stress, and boosts memory and mood. To enhance mindfulness in the office,  you can distribute apps like Calm and Headspace. 

Or you can talk to Zeel about implementing an in-office mindfulness program with vetted mindfulness experts that team members can benefit from on a regular basis—with exponentially greater results.

Stretch 

Flexibility is vital to maintaining physical health and aging successfully.  Along with physical exercise, stretching is one way to maintain muscle and joint health. Stretch can be done in the workplace, and you can see the benefits in a mere 15-20 minute session.

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