Amazing isn’t it, how a few simple words or a small thoughtful action can have such a significant impact and such measurable results? Appreciation — specifically employee appreciation — has far and lasting implications for businesses, company culture, camaraderie, employee engagement, retention levels, and more. Simple and small gestures to let someone know they matter has a compounding effect.

This seems appropriate though, considering the meaning and uses of the word, appreciation. Used in the English language as a noun, it can express thankfulness, recognize worth, or express an increase in value. And in this instance, to convey the positive impact someone is having on the lives of others.

In case you weren’t aware, the first Friday in March is National Employee Appreciation Day. Depending on when you are reading this, our timing is likely some degree of early or late. Or is it? Shouldn’t every day present an opportunity for employers, managers, and even colleagues to express our appreciation to each other?

Increasing numbers of employees are confiding that they aren’t leaving companies just for higher compensation packages. While this is often an underlying motivator, a lack of recognition and employee appreciation has more effect on employee morale and retention rates than income level alone. Employee appreciation is a meaningful way to make employees feel valued and recognized.

Keep reading to learn how employee appreciation plays such a critical role in employee engagement and get some outside-the-box ideas to acknowledge your team.

Why Employee Appreciation Matters

On a personal level, your employees want and need to know that the efforts and energy they are investing into their roles and the business matter. Expressing appreciation draws a connection between the value and effort your employees contribute and the larger goals your organization has.

Employee appreciation:

  • Boosts the morale of employees

  • Motivates and inspires a strong work ethic

  • Builds trust and strengthens relationships between employer and employee

  • Displays respect for hard work and initiative

  • Becomes an infectious attitude that positively impacts an entire organization

  • Has a reciprocal value for the giver and the receiver

Your employees are your greatest asset. Communicating appreciation in a variety of ways lets your employees know they are seen and a needed part of your organization.

Ways to Express Appreciation to Employees

Take the right approach

Just like insincerity in an apology can be detected from a proverbial mile away, disingenuous appreciation is equally as damaging. Make sure your efforts to express appreciation to your employees are done with the right intent and focus.

  • Be specific about what you appreciate in each employee you are acknowledging. Generic or broad statements are nice, but they lack the meaning and value of heartfelt gratitude.

  • React in a timely manner. Take notice and acknowledge what an employee did or said in the moment. While there may be opportunities for larger employee recognition events down the road, it is important to at least verbally note what took place in real-time.

  • Widen your perspective and potential recipients of your appreciation. Recognizing the great efforts of those we work most closely with is relatively easy to do. Looking a little wider can take some practice. Pay attention to how colleagues in other departments interact with each other, take notice of what the people in your building are doing.

  • Make employee appreciation a habit. Actions worthy of positive attention happen all the time. It just takes a little focus and effort to regularly see them. Regularly appreciating your employees and colleagues also encourages a company culture that focuses on people, not just the projects at hand.

Think outside the box

There are many ways to recognize your employees and let them know they are valued. So here are some creative ideas to get you started.

  • Provide opportunities to shine. People naturally love to help. When you seek out the opinions, ideas, and expertise of your employees — especially for something outside of their normal responsibilities — it shows you value their input and involvement and confirms they are vital to your organization as a whole.

  • Take your appreciation public. If you want to remain strictly professional, write a LinkedIn recommendation for an employee endorsing their contributions to your team and company. To make it more personal, give them some public kudos. (To access either feature on the platform: visit the profile of your talented connection, click on the ‘more’ button on their profile, select ‘Give Kudos’ or ‘Recommend’, and create your post.)

  • Share it with the group. If going fully public isn’t your (or your employee’s) style, at least share the accomplishments with the rest of your office, team, and company. From interoffice communications to team meetings, let your company know that awesome actions get celebrated.

  • Make it personal. How do your cherished employees like to be recognized? Acknowledge their efforts in a way that is most meaningful to them: a handwritten note, an afternoon off work, flowers delivered to their desk (or home), a venti-sized serving of their favorite beverage, or a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

  • Invite everyone to participate. Employee appreciation doesn’t only need to be leader-driven. Peer-to-peer recognition also has an incredibly strong and positive impact on company culture, employee engagement, and work productivity.

  • Carpe diem. Latin for seize the day, the opportunities to let employees know you appreciate them happen all the time. Don’t pass up opportunities to celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, personal accomplishments, as well as professional achievements.

  • Make work enjoyable. Not every act of employee appreciation needs to be tied to some grand or unusual event. Show your employees you appreciate them by making your workplace fun and a desirable place to work, regardless of where that work happens. Our personal favorites are monthly massages, Bagel Fridays, and weekly happy hours. Other ideas are corporate Uber accounts so employees get home safely from work events, food delivery perks for remote or in-office employees, cell phone stipends, and discounts on company-branded apparel.

The ideas are endless. The point of employee appreciation is to let people know they matter and are important to the overall success of the company. Don’t wait for a single day of the year to let employees know you are thankful for them and value their contributions.

New call-to-action