Today is Employee Appreciation Day, which gives you a great reason to take a few minutes to tell your staff, individually, and face-to-face, thanks for the great work you do.
That small gesture means far more than you might think. Globoforce, whose business is employee recognition, says workers who are regularly recognized for the work they do work harder, are more productive, and jump ship much less than those who rarely or never get feedback. The last survey Globoforce did, it asked workers if they planned to look for a new job. Among those who said they felt appreciated, 20% said they would look. Among the group reporting they felt unappreciated, 60% were going to look.
A word or advice before before you go issuing your thank yous. They need to be genuine, specific, and personal. It does no good, and you’re likely to lose points rather than gain them, if you simply make a perfunctory appreciation round. Instead, take some time to write down — yes write them down so you don’t botch the process — what it is each of your reports does well and what you are grateful to them for.
This is not a time for a performance review; no grading of their overall job. Pick just one or two things you truly appreciate about them and then tell them how what they do makes a difference. It may be something as simple as how well they interact with clients, or as significant as spotting an error in a key presentation or doing an outstanding job on a project.
Even if the praise is for something done a month or two ago, the recognition will be valued.
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Being honest and direct also helps. Admitting that Employee Appreciation Day prompted you to action if this is not something you normally do will avoid bewildering your reports when you reach out to them. It also wouldn’t hurt to apologize for neglecting to recognize their work sooner.
One more suggestion. Take this opportunity to ask their opinion about a decision, project, or other important company matter in which they know you to be involved. As Halley Bock, CEO and president of Fierce, Inc., a leadership development and training company, observed:
“One of the best ways to acknowledge employees’ efforts is to turn the tables and ask for their feedback on a high-stakes decision. More than anything, employees — especially Millennials — want to play an active role in their organization. Giving them an occasional opportunity to participate at a deeper level not only improves decisions, but also expresses appreciation for the employees’ dedication and commitment to the company.”
Finally, don’t make this an all-day project. A few minutes spent with each person thanking them, soliciting their view, and acknowledging one or two specific achievements is plenty. You’ll be surprised at the return you get on this small investment, not to mention how you’ll also make everyone’s day.