The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Appreciation

Whether you’ve been dialing in to different news outlets or simply scrolling through your social media feeds, tense situations and fluctuating feelings have been far from scarce. 

A multitude of different delicate entities are currently in flux. In particular, if you’re a key company stakeholder, you might be feeling anxious and wondering how exactly you should help your organization to proceed. 

Although we all may be feeling powerless at times, we can still incorporate an old technique that’s capable of having an impact amidst new occurrences: appreciating our teammates.

Now more than ever, instigating employee acknowledgement is of the utmost importance. 

In an effort to put your coworkers at ease and soothe stressful sentiments, here are a few best practices and ones that you should avoid: 

Unmasking The Employee Appreciation Paradox

If you’re a manager, you already know (or you should already be aware) that it’s essential to show your employees that you appreciate them. In fact, most managers recognize that demonstrating gratitude towards their employees extends beyond attributing to their happiness. 

For example, when asked what they could do more of in order to increase their reports’ engagement, 58% of corporate leaders replied with, “give recognition.” 

However, there’s a paradox: even though managers think that they’re adequately appreciating their employees (or are aware that they should be doing it more often), employees still feel undervalued (hence, high turnover rates).

To back this up, two workplace surveys from HBR present some revealing numbers regarding praise in the office: 

It’s no wonder that more than half of U.S. workers are unhappy with their jobs. 

via GIPHY

It takes time, effort, and financial resources to hire and train new employees. To avoid employee churn, here’s how you can ensure that your current reports stick around:

The Do’s of Employee Appreciation

1.) Check in early and often

We’ve got two words for you: Water cooler banter

You’ve likely heard them before, but take a moment to reflect and ask yourself: Are you enacting this type of small talk with your employees⁠—especially now that most of us are working remotely

Even though asking questions such as “How are you?” or “What’ve you been up to recently?” may seem to impede productivity, they actually can help your employees feel more valued (and in turn, make you feel more in sync with them). In fact, some workers regard these types of interactions as being as meaningful as formal recognition

Plus, getting to know them better on a personal level will make this next step easier…

2.) Give positive and constructive feedback

Fun fact: 43% of highly-engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. Yep, that’s “feedback” in general—regardless of if it’s labeled “positive” or “constructive.” 

Why, exactly? Well, it has to do with psychological conditioning. And as a manager, you can help to change or enforce your employees’ actions and attention through redirecting versus reinforcing feedback.

By providing reinforcing feedback, you can indicate to your reports that you’ve liked what they’ve done and would like to see more work like it. Not only will giving this help you to develop connectivity with them, so the more often you give it, the better! 

Additionally, divulging reinforcing feedback will make your employees more receptive to hearing redirecting feedback, or observations that suggest that they’ve completed something that you’d them to do less often—or at all. 

If you’re nervous about giving redirecting/constructive feedback, take note that according to a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association, your feedback will be rendered as 40% more effective by prefacing it with the phrase: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”

3.) Showcase growth opportunities

Think about it, and be honest: when was the last time you sat down individually with each of your employees and reviewed their professional development plans? 

Or, maybe an even better question: Have you taken time to help your employees construct professional development plans? 

If not, consider that 81% of people believe that professional development is a shared responsibility between manager and employee.

Employee Growth Opportunities

Source: Quantum Workplace

Specifically, there are four areas of growth that employees seek in regards to their workplaces: 

  1. Financial – The possibility of increased income
  2. Career – The desire to move up the ranks with duties, titles, and office space
  3. Professional – The drive to become more competent by attending conferences, joining mentoring programs, taking online classes, or receiving tuition reimbursement
  4. Personal – The ability to work remotely, have a flexible schedule, and attend social gatherings both inside and outside of the office

4.) Show you’re open to flexibility 

Given recent workplace changes, we’ve all had to become a bit more flexible and agile. However, it’s especially crucial that managers show that they’re accepting of these new adjustments as well as exhibit empathy towards their reports while they also adapt. 

Consider allowing your employees to adjust their work schedules in accordance with their peak productivity hours, since some individuals regard having a flexible work schedule as a form of recognition. 

5.) Make Your Appreciation a Habit 

Dedicating just a few extra minutes in your day on a weekly basis to express your gratitude towards your employees can go a long way. 

Consider the simple gesture of writing thank you notes to your employees after they’ve accomplished important projects or reached specific goals. These messages don’t have to be handwritten—new research has proven that recipients of emailed expressions of gratitude feel much more “ecstatic” than expected.

Not only will you find that their appetites for sincere thank yous are unlimited, but you might just discover that saying Thnks is a lot easier than you originally anticipated. 

via GIPHY

The Don’ts of Employee Appreciation

Even though you might have positive intentions while attempting to practice employee recognition, your actions could actually have a negative impact. To avoid spreading any bad vibes, let’s break down some employee appreciation “don’ts”:  

1.) Don’t generalize or be inauthentic 

Inauthenticity can be smelled faster than the leftovers that are still sitting in your company’s fridge from pre-quarantine. 

Empty or offhand comments, despite the desired effect behind them, can actually be worse than not showing your employees that you’re grateful for them. 

So when practicing employee recognition, note that the more personalized and meaningful your gestures of appreciation are, the better. 

2.) Don’t avoid company standard practices

Annual reviews. Quarterly check-ins. Weekly one-on-ones. Award nominations. 

There’s a large chance that your employees don’t consider these company practices a “waste of time,” so you shouldn’t either. 

Most employees regard these types of procedures as “milestones.” If you dismiss them, they’ll likely believe that your inaction is a reflection of how you feel about their performance.

3.) Don’t allow employees to feel isolated from their colleagues

At times, employees can feel disconnected from their peers—particularly in our current WFH environment. 

One way managers can combat this is by highlighting how their reports can work more closely with each other or cross-departmentally. This will also help to enhance both internal camaraderie and communication. 

4.) Don’t shift your appreciation process unexpectedly

If you try to overcompensate for not expressing your gratitude towards your employees, they’ll regard your expressions as insincere. 

Instead, communicate with them and let them know that you’re working on enacting a regular appreciation program so that they know where you’re coming from.

Promoting Appreciation While Overcoming New Business Challenges

As we continue to adjust and pivot our routines while working remotely, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to weave an attitude of gratitude throughout our conversations with our coworkers—even if they’re mostly occurring over Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Since face-to-face time has turned into FaceTime, managers must take the reins when it comes to their relationships with their employees by ensuring that their reports feel valued while preparing to embrace what our “new normal” has in store. 

Fortunately, saying Thnks will make it easier. 

Thnks can help you empower your employees and enhance their motivation. Within seconds, you can show them your appreciation by searching for a gesture of appreciation, personalizing a note, and sending it off via SMS or email. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo