Employee Appreciation Day is a time for companies to reflect on the importance of their employees and the role they play in their success. While it’s great to have an annual event to recognize employees, it’s important to turn recognition into a daily routine to keep employees engaged and motivated. With the current War for Talent, employers can’t take their employees for granted anymore. Small and medium-sized businesses are hiring as many people as they can, and employers looking to attract and retain their people need to step up their game in recognizing their employees’ vital role in the business.
However, it’s a common misconception that companies can recognize workers every once in a while, and employees will feel gratitude and belonging. “Employee recognition is not something you can do as a check-the-box activity,” says Zoe Peterson-Ward, the Chief Customer Officer at Workhuman. “We’re in an era where employees demand more from their employers than ever before, and this remains true for recognition as well. Recognition should not just be done more frequently; it should also be curated to each employee so that they feel seen and valued within their organization.”
The upside of recognizing employees well is enormous. When employees believe their company is invested in their personal well-being and professional growth, the research says they are three times more likely to feel connected to company culture, three times more likely to agree that their organization cares about their well-being, and 30% more likely to stay at their organization five years down the line.
In celebration of Employee Appreciation Day, let’s discuss how companies can rethink their employee recognition efforts with an eye on becoming the kind of place employees, especially those from the younger generations, can thrive.
One of the biggest mistakes employers make in recognizing their employees is that they lack authenticity. “Employees know when acts of gratitude are genuine or not, and unauthentic recognition moments will not be met with a positive reception,” says Peterson-Ward.
For instance, every employee receiving the same “canned” thank you email from an executive will not be as effective as a personalized message that highlights the specifics about what each employee did to contribute to the success. Getting a personalized, genuine message that is specific elevates that employee’s experience in the moment of receiving the recognition. As a result, they feel more connected to the person providing the recognition and to the organization.
Employee Appreciation Day itself is another example of how companies can give lip service to recognizing their people in inauthentic ways. “Typical celebrations, like a happy hour or a pizza party are nice gestures, but they lack long-term benefit and impact on employees,” says Peterson-Ward. “Making these celebrations and gestures a year-round activity is far more beneficial to employees and is something that should be prioritized when thinking about how to create more effective recognition programs.”
That’s especially true for members of the younger generations who crave regular authentic recognition. Workhuman research found that 78% of millennial and Gen Z workers want frequent recognition from their managers.
Here are some strategies companies can implement to recognize their employees on a daily basis:
It’s essential to recognize each employee individually, according to their unique contributions to the company’s success. Personalization can be achieved by recognizing employees in public, highlighting their accomplishments in meetings, and providing personalized messages or handwritten notes.
Technology can make it easier to recognize employees on a daily basis. For instance, companies can use recognition platforms that allow employees to give each other kudos, recognize milestones, and share success stories. These platforms also allow managers to keep track of recognition and provide feedback to employees.
Celebrate small wins
Celebrating small wins can have a significant impact on employee motivation and engagement. Companies can celebrate small wins by recognizing employees for completing a project on time, making a valuable.
Prioritize recognition as a core valueIn order for recognition to become a daily habit, it needs to be prioritized as a core value within the company culture. This means that recognition should be embedded in the company’s mission and values, and leaders should actively promote and model recognition behaviors. When recognition is seen as a core value, employees are more likely to prioritize it in their daily interactions with each other.
In conclusion, employee recognition shouldn’t be reserved for just one day out of the year. In order to attract and retain top talent, companies need to prioritize recognition as a daily habit. By personalizing recognition, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, using technology to streamline efforts, celebrating milestones, and prioritizing recognition as a core value, companies can create a culture of appreciation that fosters employee engagement and loyalty.