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5 Employee Appreciation Ideas for Any Business

Implementing employee appreciation ideas can be one of the smartest ways to attract and retain top talent. Learn how recognition programs can increase morale, boost productivity, and ensure your employees remain happy and productive over the long term.

Implementing employee appreciation ideas can be one of the smartest ways to attract and retain top talent. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 80 percent of companies have some sort of employee recognition plan in place. It's for good reason, as the Harvard Business Review reports that 82 percent of employees feel unappreciated, and 40 percent would work harder if they were recognized for their efforts. Effective employee recognition programs go beyond cheesy branded giveaways, and actually speak to your employees. Here are five employee appreciation ideas you can implement to help recognize your top contributors:

Create a framework for regular recognition: Managers should have a framework for recognition in their management styles. During each staff meeting, call out a few key people and their contributions and wins during the previous week. In one-on-ones, spend a few minutes asking questions about how workers are doing and what they're excited about or proud of, and thanking them for contributions they've made. Finally, ensure that major contributions — such as a project completed, deal signed, or major event that goes off smoothly — are routinely acknowledged in bigger ways. Effective managers track what should be recognized and ensure their employees know how much their efforts and accomplishments are appreciated.

Turn recognition into an event: Has your team been working hard on a big project and putting in long hours or carrying a lot of stress? One strategy is to turn employee recognition into an event. Hold a catered lunch, happy hour, or dinner out for employees to thank them for a job well done. Keep the tone fun and on rewarding employees for their contributions. These events both serve as an opportunity to give employees a fun experience — such as dining at a restaurant they might not otherwise frequent — and provide an avenue for team building.

Send a handwritten thank you note: Large gifts or extravagant events aren't always in the budget. However, the HBR also notes that 76 percent of individuals hold on to handwritten notes. Take the time to occasionally send a card or thank you note to recognize ongoing service or a major win. Companies can foster better relationships with employees by having top executives occasionally write a thank you note to people on their team or sending annual personalized recognition notes across the company.

Reward employees with simple conveniences: Consider offering simple conveniences, such as a nearby parking spot, access to the in-office dry cleaning service for a period of time, or a complimentary car detailing. Award an employee an extra-long lunch that they can use on the day of their choice with advanced warning, or even a bonus day off — if that complies with your company's policy and related regulations (check with HR first). Little perks can go a long way toward helping employees feel appreciated and enjoy their workplace just a bit more.

Recognize service, but make it count: Employee service recognition programs are important. As employees are part of your company for a longer time, they become an essential part of your business's processes, relationships, and culture. What are you doing to recognize these employees, especially the ones who reach five, ten, fifteen, or even more years of service? In many cases, employees are disappointed in an inexpensive or somewhat less-than-thoughtful gift. Instead, think about what that individual employee would enjoy, and choose a customized gift. For example, if your service budget is $50 per employee, a baseball fan might enjoy a ticket to the home game or a yoga enthusiast might want a gift certificate to a yoga store.

Coming up with employee appreciation ideas that work with your business and speak to your company culture can be challenging. However, it's imperative to invest in employee recognition. It may be one of the simplest tools at your disposal to increase morale, boost productivity, and ensure that your employees remain happy and productive over the long term.


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