Celebrated annually on the first Friday in March, employers around the world celebrate #EmployeeAppreciationDay by going the extra step to appreciate their employees’ effort and dedication.
In light of the ongoing ‘Great Resignation’, this has never been more important.
Since summer last year, the UK employment sector has been hit by the aptly named ‘Great Resignation’, in which all industries are seeing staff leave, or plan to leave, their jobs in large numbers. As UK businesses try to hold on to their current workforce, and attract new employees, many organisations are going back to the drawing board to create a culture where employees feel appreciated, and wish to stay.
Indeed, with 69 percent of survey respondents that were planning to leave their jobs citing better employee rewards as something that would encourage them to stay back longer – employee appreciation cannot be underestimated.
This Employee Appreciation Day, six business leaders shared their advice on the many ways that organisations can reward employees for their hard work.
Receiving recognition in the workplace has a measurable impact on the health, wellbeing and performance of employees.
“It’s therefore important that managers consciously plan space for appreciative words and gestures each day, to recognise employees achievements as and when they happen,” notes Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA at SumTotal.
“Whilst classic forms of feedback have their place, a little imagination can give appreciation some added punch. Virtual trophies could be presented in team video meetings – or a physical trophy for teams in the office. Particularly committed team members could be given a spontaneous day off, or gifts such as a shopping voucher or cooking class.
“Helping employees progress is also a good way of expressing appreciation. For example, release a colleague who has been particularly hard working from certain duties so that they can focus on a project that they have shown interest in, which may open up new opportunities for them. Allow staff time to further their education and training.”
Alex Pusenjak, Global VP of People & Culture at Fluent Commerce, adds that
“appreciation and recognition is particularly important during periods of change and growth for an organisation, but during a global pandemic, when so many of us are working remotely, it’s imperative.”
“We implemented a number of initiatives in early 2021 to help support our employees, but some that worked for us from an appreciation and recognition perspective included having a ‘Kudos’ channel on Slack where any team member can call out a team member for a job well done. This channel has new posts on it every day and has been really effective whilst we’ve been working at home across different countries and time zones. Similarly, we have a ‘Coffee and Gratitudes’ Zoom call on a Monday morning to connect with colleagues and talk about anything non-work related and everyone gets a day’s leave to celebrate their birthday.”
An all-year round approach to appreciation
Employee Appreciation Day serves as a reminder about how much it matters to value employees.
Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Ergotron, believes we should show our appreciation to them not just today, but every day of the year.
“We should celebrate the diversity of our teams and how grateful we are for each worker’s daily contribution. Employees mean everything to a business – its innovation, support, personality, and energy. We should thank them all for their dedication, strength and support of one another during the last challenging two years.
“When designing and delivering workspace products which can support the physical and mental wellbeing of workers, it’s especially important at Ergotron that we think about our own employees and what support we can give. It’s important for team and business leaders to value staff, and equally for employees to value each other. We know from Ergotron’s Future of Work Survey that 73% of UK workers would choose their next employer based on physical, health and wellbeing support. It’s particularly important in the more physically disconnected environments of hybrid and remote workspaces, that employees are made to feel connected to their teams, supported and valued – today and everyday.”
Bruce Martin, CFO at Tax Systems, furthers that one of the most popular benefits, particularly in light of the pandemic, is flexible working.
“Offering a flexible, agile approach to working ensures all employees can create a work / life balance that suits them and their circumstances. Traditionally, flexible working has been associated with working parents, but at Tax Systems we stress that flexible working is for all employees. Whether you need to go to the post office but want to avoid the lunch-time rush or attend a mid-afternoon gym class – whatever it is, agile working policies are there for everyone, regardless of justification. We understand that we all have lives and having time for the small things makes a big difference. What’s more, when employees feel recognised and appreciated they give more back to the organisation; they are more productive when they are working and contribute to a better overall working atmosphere.”
A productive approach
Expressing appreciation in a work environment has some seriously good follow-on effects for both teams and individuals. In fact, four out of five employees are more motivated to work harder after their boss shows gratitude for their contribution.
However, Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners, explains that when it comes to communicating with a multicultural team,
“what is rewarding to one global team member can cause stress or even offence to another.
“For example, in the U.S., an individualist culture, being singled out is appreciated, but this is less true in countries that are highly team oriented. About 85% of the world’s population lives in cultures that are considered “collectivist”. Team members from collectivist cultures often appreciate the work of the team more than the contribution of any one individual, and find it awkward or embarrassing to be called out, even for a heartfelt thank you. In this instance an employer should consider thanking them as part of thanking the overall team instead.
“Employee Appreciation Day acts as an important reminder to take pause and ensure your employees know they are valued. And when doing so, it is equally as important to make sure you approach thankfulness with an accurate understanding of what gratitude looks like for your employee, and how to express it in their culture.”
This also means taking stock of specific industries and roles, and understanding what appreciation means for them. For example, security analysts who receive an overwhelming number of alerts every day, are often inevitably left suffering from alert fatigue and unable to consistently identify genuine threats.
Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA at Exabeam, highlights how this can be “unmanageable”; “especially when security teams play such a vital role in an organisation’s core operations, it can lead to serious risk to both the environment and the mental health of the employees who are charged to protect it.
“This Employee Appreciation Day, it is important that we not only express our gratitude for our employees but look to implement practical solutions that get to the core of the most common problems. For example, with teams often time-poor and overstretched, security leaders should look to automation to help free up teams from mundane manual tasks so they can focus on doing what they enjoy most – solving cybersecurity challenges. This will not only fortify security measures, but most importantly it will relieve some of the stress and burnout experienced by employees.”
She concludes, “by putting your employees first you can create an overall happier and more positive environment, while also improving retention and productivity.”