Here is the harsh reality: Most employees do not feel appreciated or acknowledged, as suggested in a study by Gallup. In most work environment the lament I hear most often is from employees who don’t feel their hard work is valued. As Margaret Cousins once said: “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
Here are some techniques to show employees appreciation and help them feel acknowledged at work.
1. Give them an opportunity.
If an employee is performing at a very high level, give them an opportunity as a token of your appreciation. Tell them, "You know Alexis, you have been doing an amazing job. I wanted to show you my appreciation by sending you to the training program you wanted to attend in San Diego. Congratulations.”
2. Assign them to a high-profile project.
A great way to show appreciation is to assign someone to a high-profile project as a gesture of confidence in their abilities and talent. This also gives them a chance to have a higher profile in the company. Make sure to specify that you selected them because of how you've appreciated their great work.
3. Make praise specific.
If you are going to thank team members as a form of appreciation, tell them specifically what it is you appreciate. Don’t say, “Great job.” Instead, say, "Great job on the Dayton report. I loved how it was organized and the research was well done. I am proud of you!” This also makes them want to repeat that behavior.
4. Thank them verbally.
A simple technique is to thank employees verbally for their hard work or when they perform over and above what is expected. A simple, “Great job, Rachael!” can go along way for boosting morale. It only takes about 15 seconds, so there's no excuse for saying you don't have time or you are too busy.
5. Ask them what they want.
Meet with employees on a regular and consistent basis to find out their short-, mid- and long-term goals. Inform them that as their manager, you want to help them achieve those goals. They will appreciate your investment in their success.
6. Send out a group email.
When someone marks an amazing achievement, send out a group email to everyone on the team and copy key executives. Talk about the achievement and thank the employee for their hard work. This shows not only that you appreciate them but allows them to receive accolades from their peers.
7. Thank them in writing.
When you take time out of your busy day to write a hand-written note (not an email), it makes a very big impression. I used to do this when I was an executive in corporate America, and people would often post my note on their office wall, indicating how important it was to them.
8. Give then small rewards.
One of my clients provides $10 gift cards to their managers for doling out to their direct reports whenever they excel. It may be a gift card for Starbucks or Target, but here is the point: It may only be $10, but the perceived value is much greater.
9. Check-in with them.
A subtle way to show appreciation is to stop by and casually check in with a team member to see how they are doing. People appreciate your spending time with them, and it shows that you care. As H. Jackson Brown Jr once said: “Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.”
10. Create buttons or decorated knickknacks that showcase employee appreciation, with slogans like “My Boss Thinks I’m Kind of a Big Deal.”
Craft style gifts can be made up in advance, require little personalization and are quite cost-effective. These are ideal for small tokens of appreciation and for group appreciation.
11. Gift cards to favored stores or online retailers, i.e. Starbucks or Amazon.com
12. 20 random unscratched lottery tickets.
13. Tickets to see a movie, local sporting event, or entertainment, i.e. theater tickets or tickets to the zoo.
14. Create a reward system allowing employees to earn tickets, which can be redeemed for major prizes ranging from cash to extended vacation time.
15. Send the employee on a business retreat that involves RR and training.
16. Free passes to attend national or international conferences related to your industry
All expenses paid trip to a regional lecture or assembly to listen to professionals or industry experts
These rewards offer employees the chance to unwind and get away from the rigors of the office while expanding their professional horizons. Your HR department increases its effectiveness by showing compassion, respect, and consideration for your employees’ livelihoods. It’s a win-win situation.
17. Give employees a Bring Your Daughter/Son/Spouse/Pet to Work Day.
18. Allow extra time at lunch or for breaks.
19. Regularly tell your employees that you appreciate them — in meetings, in the halls, at the end of the week, whenever!