According to 2020 statistics from smallbiztrends, a full third of employees say they are  minimally committed to their jobs. Several factors can explain this decline in productivity,  including the global Covid-19 crisis. 

However, 2021 brings new opportunities to rekindle employee engagement and get businesses  back on track. Appreciation is a powerful tool in this regard, as it can reward employees for  their hard work and motivate others to do the same. 

But traditional recognition means won’t work — they are dated, old fashioned, and too  predictable. Instead, try out these 15 innovative ideas for recognizing hard workers in your  organization. 

Create a culture of recognition 

An organization’s culture influences everything from productivity and results in how early  employees resume work. But more importantly, culture sets a baseline for everything that  employees do. Appreciation comes more naturally in a culture that’s inclined towards it. One way to build a recognition culture is to appreciate workers as often as possible. Every time  a manager, team, or employee is recognized, it adds to the culture until it becomes the status  quo. Repetition leads to adoption.

Public employee appreciation 

A pat on the back behind closed doors is worlds apart from company-wide recognition. The  latter announces that the company values its contribution, shining a bright spotlight on the  worker. Besides the rush of positive emotions felt by the recognized employee, public  appreciation can also motivate coworkers. 

Opportunities to show appreciation exist in company events, monthly newsletters, a wall of  fame, a space on the company website, or even small team meetings. The possibilities are  endless. 

Celebrate employee milestones 

This is one of the few traditional practices that still work. Celebrating with employees on select  dates like birthdays and anniversaries make them feel loved. It also facilitates bonding among  peers and fosters a culture of kinship. 

Ideas include baking a cake, throwing a small party, or gifting a luxury item. Letting employees  pick their gifts is also a safe bet. That way, they get exactly what they desire. 

Motivate growth 

According to statistics from Deloitte, 59% of employees prefer professional growth  opportunities as a reward for performance. Providing support in this area can fundamentally  impact employee productivity, teamwork, and overall work satisfaction. Great ideas include a promotion, offering more responsibility, and access to professional  courses that improve skills. Programs that focus on topics like emotional intelligence can also  be created to foster personal growth. 

Employee recognition programs 

Recognition programs make it easy to appreciate employees, both from a management level  and peer to peer. One great peer to peer recognition platform is Lucky Carrot. It operates by a  system that gives employees carrots. They are encouraged to reward coworkers based on  metrics like teamwork, contributions, and others. 

Recipients can then redeem the carrots for gift cards for services and fun activities. Lucky  Carrot’s analytics also allows you to track employee contributions, a critical feature in today’s  fast-paced workplace. 

Seek valuable feedback 

Initiatives like Lucky Carrot and personal growth programs are excellent and effective. But  without feedback, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. Workplace culture and  employees vary, and it’s essential to learn which programs are most effective. Well-constructed surveys can be invaluable here. They gather employee thoughts and provide  useful data for improving current initiatives. Administering the survey before launching an  appreciation scheme can also facilitate a smoother launch.

Reward high performers with swag 

Swag refers to useful items that are customized with the company’s logo. Swag is both a gift  from the company and an opportunity for employees to show off their value. It also has the  extra perk of advertising your brand to non-employees who encounter the items. Everyday items make for great swag; things like computer accessories, T-shirts, water bottles,  backpacks, phone holders, and even sneakers. 

Consider a traveling trophy 

A moving trophy can be any item; a classic trophy or a fun and quirky object that’s part of an  inside joke. The traveling trophy can also be a perk like a parking space. The idea is to create  criteria for earning the trophy and pass it around after a time period. 

Traveling trophies are great because everyone has the chance to earn them and feel special.  You can also combine two recognition ideas in your organization by awarding the trophy at a  team meeting. 

Appreciate customers as well 

Customers keep businesses running. Many organizations say they value their customers but  often aren’t any actions to back it up. When customer appreciation is followed up with  meaningful action, it can increase loyalty as well as give you insight into how to serve them  better. 

The next few points are great ideas that you can use to show your customers love and  commitment. And because the practice isn’t widespread, you’ll be ahead of your competitors. 

Custom thank you notes 

With the age of the internet, thank you notes have given way to thank you emails and video  calls. But their old-fashioned nature makes them more appreciated today. Mailing custom  thank you notes to valuable customers is an excellent, unexpected, and refreshing way to show  appreciation. 

One step further would be to attach coupons, gift cards, and other mailable gifts. The benefit is  that thank-you notes don’t need to contain poetic masterpieces; the execution is enough to  send a message. 

Host exclusive events 

Exclusive events take customer appreciation to another level. This idea works best for  businesses with a physical location and walk-in patronage. VIP events for customers in your  area can be a dinner party or an invite-only sale. 

It’s also a great idea to hold them around the same time every year. That way, your customers  have something to look forward to, and they will strive to earn an invite.

Give back on behalf of the customers 

Donating to your loyal customers’ favorite charity passes a multi-tiered message. On one level,  you’re telling them that you are grateful for their support. On another level, you’re returning  the favor of their continued patronage by giving back on their behalf. 

A third message is that your business cares about the world, and you’re eager to do your part.  Besides giving back to charity, you can also plant a tree or donate to homeless shelters. 

Start referral programs 

Referral programs give customers a slice of your business’ sales. Loyal customers are constantly  referring to new people in a company. Creating a referral program can show them that you see  their contributions and are more than willing to give rewards. 

These programs can also help your business generate more leads, so they are a win-win. Online  businesses can use affiliate networks to run the program or create their own system. Brick and  mortar establishments can simply give customers punch cards. 

Treat them specially 

Great customer service is perhaps, one of the most effective ways to sustain patronage. To  execute this, employees and managers need to work together. It involves knowing customers  on a deep level, anticipating their needs, and listening to any objections or concerns they may  have. 

Many businesses already do this, but loyal customers deserve even more attention. After years  of patronage, it’s natural to expect special treatment from your favorite company, and that’s  something your business can provide. 

Give them swag 

We discussed swag items earlier, and they are not limited to employees alone. Gifting  customers with branded items have even more of an advertisement-effect than giving them to  employees. Combine two customer appreciation ideas by mailing the branded gifts with custom  thank you notes. 

Appreciation is critical for continued loyalty and dedication, both from employees and  customers. These innovative ideas can help build the culture in your organization.

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