Most of us have witnessed the benefits of appreciation (in relationships and in life), but did you know that showing appreciation can have a particularly strong impact in business as well?
Researchers at the Wharton School of Business found that employees who feel appreciated work 50% harder than those who do not.
This is especially important to remember during stressful periods, such as when employees are carrying an especially heavy workload or the company is going through a transition.
Here are seven ways you can thank your employees and keep workplace morale high.
1. Write Personalized Notes
There’s a reason this method of appreciation has been around for decades: it works.
A handwritten thank-you note that is heartfelt and honest means a lot; it takes time and thought to compose a personal note. Don’t use your company’s holiday cards here—they feel generic and obligatory. Instead, use blank note cards or stationery. Take some time and really think about what you want to say to each employee. Be sincere, as specific as possible, and concentrate on their strengths.
2. Keep the Break Room Stocked
People love free food. It’s just a fact. But food is also an easy way for you to attach something concrete to “Operation Appreciation.”
In a survey administered to workplace professionals across the country, 57% of employees said that food-based perks made them feel more valued and appreciated.
Try to be sensitive to dietary restrictions; offer some gluten-free and/or vegetarian options, and look beyond sugary treats and try to include some healthier snacks on the table as well.
3. Establish Company Traditions
Traditions can have a long-lasting and positive impact on a company. They bring people together, contribute to a workplace culture, and give people something to look forward to each year. That said, don’t just arbitrarily pick a tradition. Make sure it’s one that’s exciting and agreed upon by everyone.
One idea to consider is organizing a gift exchange. Websites such as DrawNames.com make it easy to anonymously assign names, set an agreed-upon price cap, and allow each person to create a “wish list.” Another idea is to hold some type of competition that everyone can take part in, with a prize given out to the winners. Or, if you have a lot of folks who enjoy a certain hobby (such as baking or painting), designate a day where everyone can bring in examples of their hobbies to share with others.
4. Leave the Festivities Early
This might sound like an odd tip, but here’s the deal: it doesn’t matter how great you are or how much your employees love you. You’re in a position of authority, and because of that, your employees will probably never feel totally at ease in your presence.
While bosses are (mostly) nice people, it’s a well-known fact that no one wants to sit next to them at company gatherings because it will stifle the fun. We recommend that you show up for the beginning of the party, make your rounds and be friendly, and then head out the door. Leaving while the event is still going on allows employees to relax and enjoy themselves without the pressure of the boss looking over their shoulders.
5. Personalized Gifts
Gift cards are easy and appreciated, but if you’re worried about them feeling impersonal, there are many other options. A frozen turkey or ham could be a good idea, and could save employees money while making a holiday meal, which everyone appreciates. Leather notebooks or planners, lunch kits, or small Bluetooth speakers are other good options. Take each employee’s interests, needs, and hobbies into account when making your choices.
Whatever the gift, make sure you save the free company swag for another time, and make the gift something people will actually use. And, of course, don’t forget to add a handwritten thank-you card into the mix.
6. Respect Holiday Diversity
While many companies have an annual Christmas party, it’s important to remember that not all employees celebrate this holiday.
Honor the diversity of your workplace and get to know your employees. There are several different holidays in December and January. Learn which ones your employees celebrate and be sure to avoid scheduling conflicting events or activities. You could even ask employees how you could incorporate diverse beliefs into your holiday party. Do some research on the different holidays and learn how they’re celebrated, and then apply what you’ve learned in your company holiday party and/or thank-you notes.
7. Let People Leave Early
Sometimes the best way to thank your employees for their hard work is by giving them additional time off. This gift not only shows appreciation but can also help to improve productivity during the time they are at work and reduce the potential for burnout.
Company appreciation doesn’t need to be expensive. You can often boost morale with simple acts of appreciation like these. Get creative. A little effort goes a long way, and your crew will be thankful for the outward show of appreciation and the change of pace. For more ideas, check out our retreats for teams and outdoor team-building activities.