If you’ve ever felt underappreciated at work (and pretty much all of us have), then you know how important recognition is in the workplace. According to Gallup, only one in three workers had received praise or recognition in the past week, a factor that directly impacts turnover rate and employee engagement. Employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit within the next year.
Small businesses might feel like they can’t afford proper employee recognition, but it can be very inexpensive to make your team feel appreciated. People aren’t solely motivated by money, and smaller, sincere gestures of thanks can be even more powerful than a bonus. Here are 8 small but powerful ways to recognize employees who are doing a great job.
1. Give Shout-Outs
Knowing you did a good job is one thing, but hearing it from your boss or the president of the company is even better. Public acknowledgment is a great way to inspire and motivate people, while rewarding specific team members for a job well done. Email blasts, announcements at company meetings, and other company-wide correspondence is a great way to recognize employees. Plus, it’s totally free!
2. Offer fun projects or professional/personal development opportunities
There are always going to be some projects that everyone wants to do—but unfortunately, not everyone will be able to take them on. If you’re having a hard time deciding who should get these fun projects, try meting them out as recognition. Additionally, if a hardworking employee wants to develop new professional skills or explore an interest (augmented reality, woodworking, foreign language, etc.), think about sponsoring them in a continuing education class or send them to a local conference.
3. Take them to lunch
Who doesn’t like a free lunch? Besides showing you care, you’ll be giving them some one-on-one time they don’t typically get—a great chance to talk shop or get to know each other a little better. You can also take lunch TO your employees—catering for your team is a great way to show them you appreciate their efforts.
4. Distribute non-cash rewards
Want to thank someone for putting in a few extra hours on a tight deadline? You don’t have to open the can of worms that is monetary incentives to say thank you. Instead, consider giving a gift card to a coffee shop, scratch tickets, movie tickets, or other universally-appreciated gifts that will let them know you appreciate them, while giving them a reason to have some fun.
Some managers have a stash of lottery tickets or gift cards on hand for just such occasions. They’re low cost, and your team will love both the recognition and the gift.
5. Loosen the reins
If everyone has been doing a great job lately, loosen up a bit. Test out some casual dress days, or take things a step further and offer some flexible work options. Why not let employees work outside or from home part of the time? Or, if someone has made extra contributions, let them head home a few hours early. This is an especially good gesture during the summer months.
6. Throw a competition, party, or potluck
Appreciation doesn’t have to mean direct praise—it can be a fun break from the norm as well. Consider throwing a baking or chili-making competition—something that will allow your team to show off their hidden talents. You could throw a pie potluck on March 14 for Pi Day, or allow your employees to bring their pets to work one day (just make sure the building doesn’t object). Team-based games, group baseball outings—get creative, there are so many options!
7. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
Recognition is great coming from a manager or the executive level, but it’s also appreciated when it comes from peers. Get everyone involved with the recognition process, and give your team, ample opportunity and encouragement to recognize one another. This could be something as simple as signing a card, or nominating someone to be employee of the week. When everyone gets involved, everyone is invested in the process!
8. Just say thank you!
It’s a simple gesture, but a powerful one. Communicate with your employees. Let them know when they’ve done a great job, and give thanks for their hard work.
Whatever you do to honor your employees, make sure it comes from the heart. Whether you’re recognizing the work of an individual or the whole team, appreciation only works when it’s sincere. Don’t just offer recognition for the sake of morale—offer it for a job well done, and offer it often. Giving praise is just what your office needs for a happier, more productive environment.
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