5 ways to make employee appreciation a foundational part of your company culture
It’s no secret that a happy and engaged team has a ripple effect. They are your brand ambassadors—while they are with your team, and just as importantly, after they move on. Here at Franchise Business Review, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of culture and how we treat all the people we work with—co-workers, clients, partners, and vendors. Since March 4th is Employee Appreciation Day, it seems a great time to share tips for appreciating your employees year round:
1. Don’t wait for them to leave to throw a party! A lot of companies throw a party to say goodbye and wish departing colleagues well in their next adventure. Instead, focus on the “first 30” to show new employees what your brand and team are about and express how happy you are to have them join the team. Think about the first 30 seconds, the first 30 minutes, and then the first 30 days.
Here at FBR we make a little welcome sign so people know we are excited to have them join us. We recently hired Emily George, who is fully remote and sent her a digital version to print for herself. She took liberties to craft it up and it still hangs in her home office.
2. Say thank you LOUDLY! Most leaders have heard some version of “praise publicly, correct privately.” As a leader if you make a big deal of your appreciation for specific actions you see or hear about, it resonates with everyone on how they can help the organization do great things. Take the time to write your appreciation in emails, in person (or on Zoom) at meetings, when you hear from customers, etc. A side effect is you might notice your whole team will start to do the same.
3. Reward staff who receive kudos from the team or customers. Recognizing behaviors that help your business can help create momentum and give the whole team examples of what drives your success. Share with the team when someone gets a call out in a customer review, or better yet, reward your team for giving kudos to each other.
Hot Dish Advertising has a Slack channel dedicated to team members recognizing each other with high fives when they go above and beyond. Each month they pick one random shout out. Both the feedback giver, along with the colleague they high-fived get a gift card.
4. Create opportunities for them to connect with each other. Providing your employees ways to connect builds a culture of accountability to each other and your company’s mission. The key is to make these connections easy and fun, not something they feel obligated to do or dread showing up for. Creating teams and contests tied to business goals, or during social events brings out competitive spirits and team building. If the company spends the money on fun activities, or great food and drinks that employees might not splurge on for themselves they will feel appreciated.
We have done some fun activities with our team, some for employees only and others with partners and families. A lobster boat cruise, kayaking, axe throwing, escape rooms, scavenger hunts around town, mini golf and go karts are a few that come to mind as some of the best times we’ve had spending time as a team, stirring up some friendly competition.
5. Find creative and random perks. Is it hard to park at your office? How about making a great parking spot something employees can earn? A bag of coffee to take home, t-shirts, a subscription to Spotify, MasterClass, etc., pick the music for the day, discounts/gift cards at local businesses…the perks don’t have to be expensive to be appreciated. (Read 7 Simple Ways to Build Employee Engagement for more ideas.)
This past summer we offered our team half day Fridays. After the long year stuck at home with COVID it was a nice way to recognize how hard we worked, how tough the year was for most of us mentally, and the importance of down time to re-energize.
Finally, ask employees for feedback. One of the very best ways to show you value your employees is to show them you’re listening. Ask them what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better to support them. Employees may not always feel comfortable sharing face-to-face, so we recommend doing regular employee surveys. You likely won’t be able to make all the changes, but as long as you acknowledge that you’ve heard them and explain what steps you’re taking, employees will know their input is appreciated.
Most of us have experienced the challenges of finding the right employees to help our business grow and who we enjoy working alongside. There’s no guarantee how long we will have them in our organizations, so find ways to show appreciation frequently and make building a culture that they want to be a part of a top priority.
Related Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for Franchises
Download your free eBook to learn how to:
- Recognize barriers holding employees back from fully engaging
- Create a supportive and engaging workplace culture
- Make engagement a key part of your hiring and retention strategy
- Measure and benchmark your team’s engagement against other franchise employers