10 Thoughtful Ways to Give Thanks To Your People

"Thank you."

It's a simple phrase. Short.. Sweet. But how often does it actually get used in a meaningful way? It's easy to say thanks randomly throughout the year, but the trick is to make your employees feel valued each and every day they are with your organization. These 10 tricks will help you express gratitude not just at the holidays, but instead will help spread the feeling of thanks all year round.

1. Express Gratitude When They Don't Expect It

When something is expected, it's hardly valued, and a general "thank you" can seem less sincere than recognition for specific action. Randomly send an email note to a team member that just says "Thanks for [insert a past action]. So glad you're here." This type of communication can not only help spur appreciation, but it can also help keep the lines of communication open so when an employee does feel undervalued or underappreciated, they feel as though there is someone they can speak with. 

2. Write Personal Notes

Taking a few minutes to write a personal handwritten note to an employee goes a long way. Doing quarterly fun activities to build teamwork and show appreciation to the whole staff also works wonders. 

3. Boost Work-Life Balance

You should always thank you employees for their hard work. However, actions are always better than words, so make it as easy as possible for them to maintain a good work-life balance. Empower them to do what they need to in and out of the office. Offer flexibility, PTO and up to date tools to keep communication easy and open. Another powerful recognition tool is to recognize the family of a worker if that particular worker has been putting in long hours or extensive travel. 

4. Food for Thought

Food can be used creatively and go a long way in expressing gratitude. You can buy a person lunch, provide lunch coupons for the worker and three of their friends, provide dinner for the employee and their significant other, give a fruit basket, cater regular lunches or even bring in bagged lunches for anyone who wishes to participate in. However, the food incentives that seem to work the best are year round benefits such as a snack or breakfast wall free to all to enjoy.

5. Use Your Words

Communication is key to a good recognition program. This can come in many forms - publication of recognition in the company newsletter or intranet, and even recognition from the very top level of management. Home Depot does quarterly "Breakfast Talks" with their President and Chairman Bernie and Arthur. While discussing via live satellite company growth, plans and financials, they also recognize work from store level employees and answer questions sent anonymously from all over the company. This is pivotal in employee satisfaction for two main reasons. First, it helps employees feel like their work is appreciated throughout the organization. Secondly, open communication and the ability to ask questions to senior level management is also a good way for employees to feel as though there is transparency in the organization. Nothing creates discord and damaging rumors more than secrecy. Trust me when I say your employees already know something is going on. In lieu of correct information, they will start to fill in the gaps on their own. Avoid this all together by being open and honest with your employees right from the start.

6. Find Out What Motivates Them

Engaged employees produce more, turnover less, and help their companies achieve greater financial return. So who wouldn't want engaged employees? The problem lies not in the desire, but the execution. It takes a keen understanding of employee motivation which can be broken down via Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

7. Stop Patting Them On The Back and Start Rewarding

Everyone loves being told they're doing a good job, but most great employees already know they're doing well. Instead of telling them, you can show them. Create a Hall of Fame wall with photos of outstanding employees and how they made a difference in your organization. Create a yearbook that displays each employee and nice quotes from managers and peers as well as their highest achievement for the year.

8. Ask for Feedback and Act On It

Employees feel appreciated when asked for feedback. They feel valued when that feedback is acted on. Weekly eSAT (employee satisfaction) surveys consist of simply 1-3 question comprised of understanding what employees like and dislike while gauging their overall likelihood of sticking around. They can give valuable insight into employee's thoughts and improvements to enhance employee retention. 

9. Add Gratitude To Your Daily Routine

When things move really quickly, it's easy to forget to thank the people you work with every day. You can set aside 15 minutes each day to discuss what the team is working on and what the core values are. Share examples of how colleagues displayed these core values and acknowledge those who put them into action. Don't always have 15 minutes or have a team that is spread out? No problem, try Bravo Cards, small cards that express thankfulness or congratulations on the exterior and personal messages on the interior. These cards are often unexpected and can go a long way in reinforcing positive attitudes.

10. Keep It Simple and Meaningful

It's the little things that mean the most. Nothing beats looking someone in the eye and expressing heartfelt gratitude. It doesn't have to be a big show of thanks, which can sometimes feel forced and meaningless. Sometimes it's the smaller ways we say thanks that touch employees the most. 

If you're struggling with employee retention, The Connection® team of Consultants can work with your organization to analyze and enhance talent acquisition strategies and recognition programs. Contact us today to learn more.


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