Employee Appreciation Day is right around the corner, and you may be thinking to yourself “Is this even a real holiday? Does my company even know it exists?”
You’re not the only one with this thought, but it serves as a great reminder to do something we often forget: appreciate one another. Whether you’ve just started at a new job or have been working there for years, we all want to feel like what we’re doing matters. Knowing our work is valued inspires us to keep pushing the dial, which is ultimately what keeps businesses going.
A Harvard Medical School study recently showed us how important gratitude and appreciation are in the workplace. Their study split participants into two groups to call for donations. One group heard a message of gratitude from the director of giving beforehand and one did not. During the experiment, the employees who heard the director’s message made 50% more calls than the group who received no appreciation.
You may now be saying to yourself, “Whoa. Am I appreciating my employees enough?” Fear not! Regardless of if you currently are or not, the important thing is that you’re thinking about it and we have some simple ways for you to start this Employee Appreciation Day.
1. Treat everyone as an individual.
We’ve all heard “treat everyone as you want to be treated,” but there’s a rule above that, and it can be difficult to achieve. “Treat everyone as they want to be treated.” It is a challenging but crucial distinction. Instead of taking a blanket approach to appreciation for employees who all do vastly different jobs, try to take the time to get to know each individual and their role. Tailoring your process will let staff know that you see them not just as employees, but as individuals.
2. Make time to check in.
If you’re reading this post, then you’ve already started! With everything going on in the day to day, appreciation may not always be top of mind. Try to make it a part of any feedback meetings or take time to personally thank some individuals each week. It will require effort on your part, but keeping recognition a conscious thought will make it a habit, and that habit will….
3. Establish a culture of gratitude.
Good company culture is infectious, and unlike the flu this is something we want to spread throughout the workplace. Being an example and taking time to appreciate your employees, as well as giving them a space to recognize each other, creates an environment of positivity and confidence. Investing in a recognition program can be an easy way to encourage employees to recognize the good in each other and in themselves.
4. Listen and pay attention.
It can be hard to unplug from your work and truly listen to the people around you, but it is worth doing. In meetings, check ins, and just one-off conversations, be mindful of yourself. Are you making eye contact? Are you on your phone or thinking about something else? Being truly present and paying attention to the small things will help you down the road to appreciation.
5. Tell people what you value about them.
Remember all those details you paid attention to? That great idea in a meeting or the help you received on a big project? Time to put that to work. A Glassdoor survey found that 53% of people said that receiving more appreciation from their leadership would make them stay longer at the company. Try sending out personal emails or using your recognition program to thank people for things they’ve done and their significance to you.
6. Be authentic and specific.
This may be the most important task on this list. People can tell when you’re being insincere and that will result in the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. Make sure your appreciation comes from the heart and is in your true voice. If you’re writing an email or planning to say something and it doesn’t sound like something you’d really say, scrap it! Even a short, genuine message of appreciation will mean so much more than anything hyped up and exaggerated.
Taking small steps like this is the first step to creating a productive and welcoming work environment. Use this Employee Appreciation Day to audit your own efforts and maybe put some new practices in place.