Original blog post was written for Employee Appreciation Day (March 6, 2015).
Here are some easy, low-and-no cost ideas to help leaders celebrate their teams and give them the appreciation they deserve.
1. Crack the Code
Write a brief letter of praise to each employee in code. For example, type the messages using the key to the right of the letter you want. So thank you becomes “yjsml upi.”
2. Boss for a Day
Give your employees the power today. Let them decide where to order lunch and let them lead the meetings. You might even switch offices for a fun change of scenery.
3. Hijack the Intercom
Throughout the day, use the office intercom to play quick clips of celebratory songs and announce thanks to each employee.
4. Title Cards
Give your employees fun new titles for the day, like Queen of Copy, Marketing Maestro or MC Sales Slayer. Make up fun nametags to help them get in the spirit.
5. Group Photo Op
Bring in wigs and silly props and let your team’s personalities shine for a group photo that you’ll post in a common area to commemorate Employee Appreciation Day.
6. The Appreciation Cart
Load up a rolling cart with inexpensive toys and goodies (or healthy snacks) and take it to each person in the office. Let them select their own fun trinket or tasty treat.
7. Recognition from the Top
Invite the CEO or another high-level leader to visit. Gather up the team and have the visiting leader give them a heartfelt thank you.
8. Free Time
Show your employees that you appreciate their creative side by giving them an hour to work on any project they’d like. You might even invite them to share their projects at the end of the day.
9. Make it Private
When employees are called into your office, they usually assume something is wrong. Today, call employees into your office individually to thank them for their contributions.
10. Tiny Trophies
Hit the dollar store and buy items that represent your employees, such as a stuffed dog for someone who “doggedly pursues a sale” or a whisk for someone who “whips up great results.”
Keeping in mind that one of the keys to effective recognition is frequency, here are some additional ideas for making recognition part of your routine.
11. To Do: Recognize
Put “Say thank you” at the top of every to-do list. Don’t start another task until you’ve recognized someone.
12. Pocket Recognition
Every morning, put a stack of thank you cards, low-cost gift cards, or other items in your pockets. Make sure to give out every one before you leave for the day.
13. Meeting Notes
Make a habit of beginning or ending every staff meeting by mentioning your team’s specific accomplishments. Be sure to praise employees for their individual contributions.
14. Thank You Call
If you don’t always have time to write personal thank you notes, leave appreciative voicemails on your employees’ desk phones. This is easy to do daily, even during your commute.
15. Don’t Do it Alone
Recognition is a big job. Recruit other employees to help reinforce recognition as being an important part of your culture.
Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is a great place to start, but when leaders make appreciation a habit, they can help build an environment that makes every day feel like a special day.