Try This Unique Employee Appreciation Idea

Appreciating employees is hard work, if you want to do it right. Genuine appreciation should look and feel personal and it should reflect the way that someone’s work and dedication has made an impact on the workplace, on their coworkers and on the projects that have been delivered.

As the number of online searches for employee appreciation ideas that don’t involve money rises from year to year, I can’t help but wish that these managers would also try and find authentic ways to recognize and reward their employees. Non-financial recognition doesn’t necessarily mean honest and impactful recognition.

As we were working with several HR managers to help them find new ways in which they can express appreciation towards their staff, we came across one particularly appealing idea that turned out to have the desired impact- a happy employee. Here it goes:

Send a personal letter to your employee’s family

A simple, yet really powerful idea. Our spouses, families and significant others are a great source of energy for us. Our personal lives impact the way we engage with the workplace, influencing our performance and our career advancement.

A study by Brittany C. Solomon and Joshua J. Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis looked at the effect of spouses’ personality characteristics on people’s employment outcomes such as incomes, promotions, and job satisfaction and what they found was that conscientiousness had a key impact on them, predicting employee income, number of promotions, and job satisfaction.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Consciousness, in this case, translated into spouses handling a lot of household tasks, thus freeing employees to concentrate on their work. This would make employees feel satisfied in their personal lives and give more energy and dedication to their work.

Research aside, who do you turn to when you have a new job decision to make, a stressful project, a huge success or a challenging opportunity? The people in your life, your family, are a great support to you as an employee and having them support and appreciate you can work wonders for your career.

As a manager, sending this letter is a sign of deep understanding of the social and familial context that shapes employees personalities and their work performance. Not only will you recognize the employees family and their support, you’ll also show your employee that they are a valuable part of your organization.

Here are some ideas you can include in your letter

The entire concept that this letter is based on is: authenticity and recognition. Be honest when talking about the personality aspects and behaviors that make that employee an irreplaceable part of your team. It could be their optimism, their attention to detail, or it could be their skepticism and their excellent analytical skills. Make sure you include the unique reasons why that employee is valued in your organization.

You could include client feedback or client letter that have also recognized that particular employee for their results and their performance. Coworker impressions and feedback are also a great addition to your letter.

Thank the family explicitly for their unwavering support and understanding and for helping Joe or Jane come to work every day with fresh energy and great ideas.

Make sure you apologize for:

  • Late nights and missed diners
  • Missed football games or movie dates
  • Client-hogged weekends
  • Long business trips
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress-related weight gain

You get the idea.

If you can write this letter by hand, that would be amazing. Delivering it personally is the ultimate proof of dedication (and will probably be feasible if you have a very small team). Either way, make sure it’s an authentic effort and let us know how it turned out for you.

And if time or resources don’t allow for a physical letter, give them a call or take advantage of the social media age and connect with them over Facebook, with a shorter message that captures the essence of this exercise in appreciation.

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