With the emergence of the Great Resignation, the turnover rate at companies nationwide has spiked. This creates a workplace climate where many employees are willing to leave their jobs if they don’t feel valued—and Employee Appreciation Day (March 4), presents an opportunity for employers to ensure their teams feel heard and appreciated at a time when team morale is more important than ever.
Research shows a clear correlation between employee appreciation and retention. A survey conducted by Achievers, an award-winning employee voice and recognition platform, found that a lack of company recognition and engagement contributed to 44% of employees changing jobs. Today’s employees yearn for a work environment centered with empathetic leaders and celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is one powerful way for leaders to begin this empathetic journey.
Here are five effective strategies for leaders to celebrate their teams in meaningful, salient ways this Employees Appreciation Day.
- Invest time in creating handwritten thank you notes
Write a handwritten note for each of your employees that expresses the unique value they bring to your company. Being able to highlight specific, personalized details of their performance and positive attributes—or simply expressing the genuine gratitude you have for them—can instantly demonstrate your level of care. Be sure to make each note personalized.
- Give unique, thoughtful gifts
It’s important to care about your employees’ professional lives, but it’s equally, if not more important, to care about their personal lives. Your team members’ personal lives can directly impact their professional lives, and as a leader the onus is on you to take inventory of the relationships, situations, milestones, and celebratory moments that happen within your team—even beyond the walls of your company.
Some of your employees could be newly engaged or celebrating the addition of a newborn. Others could be single, but close with their parents. Some of your employees could have purchased a new home, and some could have relocated for their job and as a result may not have many friendships in the area. By understanding the dynamics of your employees outside of the office, you can gift appropriately.
Thoughtful gifts that show your genuine care for your team could include housewarming presents, a restaurant gift card for a newly engaged couple, or tickets to a local festival. The size or monetary value of the gift isn’t what matters, it’s the care you’ve put into identifying a gesture that truly benefits each employee’s situation and resonates with them. Be creative!
- Support a charitable cause that matters to your employees
One way to boost employee engagement is by practicing social responsibility and community involvement. You can tap into this on Employee Appreciation Day by listening to your employees about what matters most to them, and then making a donation in their honor. This action signals that your company cares not only about its community involvement, but about the interests of its employees.
- Curate an inspirational experience for your team
Instead of giving something for Employee Appreciation Day, consider creating an experience for your team. Hosting an inspirational event can go a long way toward showing your employees that you value them.
One avenue to explore is hiring an inspirational speaker to uplift the morale of your team. I was recently invited to conduct a leadership training at a health clinic for a team of executives, doctors, and medical professionals. The CEO who extended the invite strategically placed the experience on a day when she wanted to celebrate her team members for their steadfast work in the midst of the pandemic. Not only was the experience uplifting for the CEO’s employees, but the team members walked away equipped with strategies to better navigate their personal and team leadership journeys. All in all, the event left the team feeling that their leader cares about their individual growth and wellbeing.
- Offer bonus paid time off
A recent study of 1,000 US professionals conducted by Deloitte found that 77% of employees have experienced burnout from their current jobs. Additionally, the survey revealed that 51% of those respondents reported this has happened more than once. The most surefire way to combat burnout is by giving your teams a break. Offering time to rest so they can come back to work truly refreshed. By providing your employees with additional paid time off, you’ll allow them to remove themselves from the stressors of work and fully regroup. An additional PTO announcement could be made in the days leading up to Employee Appreciation Day, or as a surprise on the day itself. This is an excellent strategy for extending appreciation to your virtual or in-person team.
No matter how you choose to do it, celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is a must for leaders looking to demonstrate how much they value their teams. My professional goal as a leadership speaker is to create DifferenceMaker Leaders: leaders who understand how to manage the duality of personal and team leadership by following a positive set of ideas. One of the key DifferenceMaker Leader tenets is practicing empathy in the workplace—vital because the success of corporations rarely relies upon a singular effort, but rather on a collective team effort. Simply put, if your team does not feel appreciated, their work will reflect it or they could resign. Employee Appreciation Day is an ideal time to demonstrate empathy to your team; but ultimately, I encourage leaders to extend appreciation to their employees throughout the year, not only on a designated day.
Written by Austin Franklin.
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