Celebrating Your Employees

Employee Appreciation Day, the first Friday in March, is a day for companies to thank and celebrate their employees’ hard work and dedication. It is also a great time to strengthen the bond between employers and their employees. The day serves as a reminder of the importance of appreciating employees, as it drives and motivates them to work harder and better.

The best managers are able to show employee appreciation throughout the year, but employees Appreciation Day is an excuse to take it to the next level. It is important to show appreciation to all your direct-reports and to do so in a manner that does next suggest favoritism or unconscious bias, but that’s harder said than done.

A survey conducted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business found that 92 percent of senior business executives have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, with 84 percent admitting seeing it happen at their own companies. While nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents said there are procedures in place to ensure fairness in promotion decisions, such as strong performance review history, these reviews often list a number of subjective criteria, including their trustworthiness and cultural “fit.”

According to a recent study, 69 percent of employees say they’d work harder if they felt as though their contributions were valued. Though it seems daunting or even awkward to tell your employees you appreciate them, there are ways to ensure your employees feel valued without eliciting any office jealousy. The payoff: potentially increasing their productivity and loyalty.

Here are 3 ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day:

A fun day of team building activities
Use this day to schedule special team building events. This can be as simple as a group lunch or bringing in donuts and coffee. If the day is your oyster and cost isn’t a concern, survey your staff to find out what they want to do for their team outing and take it to a vote. You may be surprised to learn a thing or two about your team: maybe they want to use the time to give back and volunteer, try a new activity like rock climbing or tennis, go out on the town for a nice meal and karaoke or do a group cooking competition. You may uncover some serious (and unexpected) talent among your staff as well.

Doing something fun and rewarding as a team can help build camaraderie and friendships, without crossing the fine line between being a boss and a friend. Knowing a thing or two about your staff can be a benefit when the holiday and birthday gifts seasons come.

Cheers from peers
Recognition from managers is important. But employees also need to feel respect from their colleagues. Make it easy for your staff to show appreciation for each other by giving them a chance to call out the positive things people are doing as they come to your attention, as well as everyone else’s.

Unsure how to facilitate? Create an anonymous “call out” box. Teammates can leave small notes on why their colleague (or manager) deserves recognition on a job well-done. These can be read off at team meetings.

Don’t forget about their support system
While group activities are great for team building, making it more personal can have more of an impact. Perhaps your employee has a young family. Reward them with a picnic basket or a gift certificate to an interactive family-friendly museum, so that your employee can spend some quality time with their family as a reward for a job well-done.

Behind every employee is a spouse, a loved one or a family that they lean on for personal moral support or encouragement. By making it personal, it shows that you not only care about them but about the people that are important to them as well.

Taking the time and effort to organize team events that they actually want to do, or providing personalized, meaningful gifts, shows that you are thinking about them and want to make their time at your company a memorable and fun experience.