The first Friday in March every year marks an important day in the employer/employee relationship- Employee Appreciation Day. The day serves as an early catalyst for gaining momentum in a formal recognition strategy. Though employees should be celebrated daily, having specific days to more formally acknowledge their hard work and accomplishments is beneficial for various reasons. It reaffirms company commitment to employees, a recognition philosophy, and company values. No one strategy fits all programs or organizations, however, both formal and planned recognition events (like Employee Appreciation Day, or Nurses Week, milestone and service awards) and informal day-to-day processes (like ecards, high fives, or kudos) should be complementing tactics in an overall recognition strategy. A healthy mixture of effective formal and informal strategies creates a comprehensive ecosystem where employees feel productive, feel motivated, and feel appreciated.
Here are some tactics commonly believed to be most effective components in a recognition strategy:
- Incorporate recognition into cultural philosophy by making it a robust company experience. Allow program participants to feel at home, attracting them in with the familiarity of company logo and brand aesthetics. Entertain the lot with a public (internally) social stream, making it a transparent and inclusive experience for all. Have the CEO or team leader film an inspiring or even instructional video, indicating executive buy in and participation. This can be linked to your front and center Highlight Banners which receive the highest visibility rates. Banners are used to aid in communications but can also be used to help celebrate! Everyone should be invited to the party.
- Acknowledge organizational hierarchy to democratize the recognition process and allow everyone to feel included. Build a culture of recognition where the lines between organizational roles are respectfully skewed, and the focus is on both individual and organizational accomplishments- that are subsequently recognized and publicized internally for all to see. There’s power in having a lower-level associate or specialist be recognized for amazing work by a VP, or even the CEO. This same concept applies for external recognitions such as customer or patient, giving you firsthand insight as to how the outside views your organization. As an added benefit, external recognitions give an initial line of sight into how your program is externally viewed.
- Invest in employees. Don’t always just say it with non-monetary ecards. While social recognition is necessary and cost-effective, a monetary investment (especially on holidays like Employee Appreciation, Nurses Day, High Five Day, and others) makes it more memorable and personable, giving that feel good feeling we all get after receiving a gift. Keep in mind that monetary gifting does not necessarily mean cash, as employees will perceive cash to be part of their compensation package, rather than a reward for a job well done. Instead of cash, you can send rewards for employees to redeem for gift cards, merchandise, and other unforgettable experiences.
- Keep it consistent. Be sure to track the recognitions happening in your organization. By mixing formally planned and informal daily recognition strategies, you’re ensuring the consistent flow if recognition that makes great cultures thrive.
There is no one size fits all solution to engaging a workforce. It involves a mixture of purposeful and persistent efforts, starting from the top, then trickles down to the rest of your organization. With today’s Employee Appreciation Day, there’s a great chance to have a formal celebration for your employees. You’re not too late to join the next holiday or celebration, and you’re certainly not too late to start appreciating your employees on a regular basis.
Want to learn more about creating a robust recognition strategy? Let’s have a conversation.