A global study of 200,000 managers and employees found that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cited the lack of appreciation as a significant factor.
The lack of appreciation isn’t just bad for employee retention. It’s bad for business. Underappreciated employees run low on morale and aren’t motivated to do more than the bare minimum—another form of “quiet quitting.”
On the flip side, effective recognition can accelerate performance. A joint research report from Workhuman and Gallup found that if the average organization doubled the number of employees praised every week, it could see a 9% increase in productivity.
The correlation between profits and productivity is clear. What organizations need is to be more strategic about appreciation and execute it to near perfection.
Who should be doling out praise?
We’ve established that employees need recognition, but who should it come from?
The short answer is everyone.
Managers should create a “recognition-rich” environment so that praise flows in from every direction.
But if we take a closer look at data from Gallup to identify where the most memorable praise comes from, employees report the most memorable recognition comes from their manager (28%) and a high-level leader or CEO (24%). In fact, positive feedback from the CEO may be a career highlight.
Peer feedback is also important, but it ranks slightly lower (9%) than feedback from customers (10%).
How frequently should employees receive praise?
While it may seem like praise should be treated as a reward for good work, regular positive feedback is crucial.
Gallup recommends offering this type of employee feedback every 7 days.
But every week may seem extreme. The 2020 Culture Report from the Achievers Workforce Institute suggests recognition should occur at least once a month.
7 employee appreciation ideas (+ examples, tools, and tips)
We asked people leaders and scoured company blogs to answer one question: How do successful appreciation (and recognition) programs work?
As expected, the ideas that stick are easy to implement in everyday work. We distilled their insights into these 7 high-impact ideas that make employees feel appreciated.
#1. Shoutouts on Slack
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If you’re a “Slack-er,” you’ll love how easy it is to send and receive kudos with Airspeed’s Slack app, Shoutouts.
Type 🏆(trophy emoji) in any message and @mention the co-worker you want to recognize or /shoutout in any channel.
The ready-made Shoutout template makes it easy for you to heap praise and offer feedback. Here’s an example:
You can also tag company values to show your appreciation.
Peers and managers can also nominate someone to receive glowing recommendations from senior leaders like so:
And if you’re unsure what to write, use the in-built AI generator. Just share what you want to highlight and the tone of the message.
#2. Tweets and posts on social (or billboards?)
You’re probably familiar with Morgan Stanley’s tradition of welcoming summer interns by plastering their faces on Times Square.
These interns can’t help but praise the company’s warm welcome and feel appreciated by their employer.
But if you want a low-cost, high-impact way to appreciate employees, stick to posts and tweets on social media. It’s equally effective (minus the grandeur) and makes new hires and existing employees feel valued.
Loop in your social media team to create an effective strategy so you can run various campaigns to welcome new hires, reward the employee of the week or month, or give employees a shoutout when they cross a milestone.
For instance, Gong, the revenue intelligence platform, hosts an employee appreciation month where they shout out all their “Outstanding Gongsters.”
Pro Tip: LinkedIn allows you to “Give Kudos” to anyone you’re connected with and share a public post. Navigate to their profile and click on More and you’ll see the option.
#3. Regular check-ins and check-outs
The concept of a “check-in” isn’t new. Nearly every manager has regular 1:1s set up to discuss progress and challenges. What’s necessary is that leaders ask how people are doing and mean it.
The pandemic has upended all our lives—possibly forever. The lines between personal and professional lives have blurred with the rise of remote and hybrid work. It’s of paramount importance that employees feel seen in order to not feel like they’re cogs in a machine.
Also, with the past layoffs (and more to come), survivor’s guilt can impact performance and reduce morale. It’s important to build human connection at work now more than ever.
But what are check-outs? We came across this interesting concept courtesy of Hyper Island, a global learning provider. A daily check-out serves as a moment of pause and reflection. While they do this team-wide, a 1:1 check-out at the end of the day or week is a great way to talk through challenges and call out good qualities.
BTW, check this really cool resource on questions you can ask in 1:1s to get to know your people better.
#4. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and personal achievements
Celebrating anniversaries and birthdays at work is a small but meaningful way to make employees feel appreciated—a practice that’s pretty common across companies.
If you use Slack at work, consider using Celebrations by Airspeed. You’ll never forget another special date again and make it possible to celebrate the occasion company-wide.
Team members can sign a virtual card with GIFs and templates in seconds. And the app follows up with the celebrant so they can share photos of their special day later.
Plus, you can save time by creating a personalized card message with AI. Just add what you want to mention and the tone of the message.
If you don’t use Slack, consider doing a quick announcement in the employee newsletter:
While birthdays and anniversaries are commonplace, personal accomplishments outside of work are equally important. Shout out these achievements in the employee newsletter. Better yet, bring them in all-hands meetings so other people can learn more about them.
#5. Handwritten thank you notes
A handwritten thank you note will probably never go out of style. It says you took the extra time to write a note of gratitude.
But thankfully, you don’t have to actually write hundreds of them. Companies like Handwrytten use AI to create human writing, helping you scale this nice gesture. They even mail them on your behalf.
Tip: Here are sample thank you notes you can use for inspiration.
#6. Offer extra vacation time
Offering extra vacation time is a nice perk that helps employees feel valued, while also preventing burnout. If you offer unlimited PTO, encourage your team to actually use it by enforcing a minimum of 20 days every year.
You can also offer extra company-wide vacation. For instance, HubSpot introduced a Global Week of Rest where the entire company takes an entire week off every year.
#7. Host your version of Dundies
Okay, so you may not want an actual repeat of the popular Dundies episode from The Office, but Michael Scott had the right spirit.
Instead of only giving out performance-based awards, offer fun awards like “best GIFs on Slack”, “best email signature,” or “best catchphrase.” Not only does it spread joy, but it also makes everyone on the team feel seen.
Recognition vs. appreciation: Employees need both
Recognition and appreciation are two different things. The former means recognizing what an employee has achieved, and the latter shows gratitude for a person’s inherent value.
They’re often used interchangeably (and we’ve done the same) because it is hard to untangle the two. Recognition makes employees feel appreciated. And frequent appreciation makes employees feel valued and subsequently receive recognition.
What’s important is to detach recognition from positive outcomes and to heap praise – even when your teams face challenges.
We also have to stop gatekeeping recognition. When there’s a finite amount of praise that’s doled out during an all-hands or a team meeting, managers tend to only recognize top-performers, leaving everyone else feeling unappreciated.
At Airspeed, we make it easy for everyone to both appreciate and recognize employees without being burdened by clunky apps and context switching. Airspeed’s suite of Slack apps are designed to help you give praise in everyday contexts and celebrate all the special moments. Plus, with guaranteed stellar support, you know your employee appreciation strategy will always be top-tier.
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