Showing appreciation to your employees sounds like a simple thing, right? You give them a raise or promote them when they’ve earned it, as well as give them an occasional “pat on the back”. If only things were that easy.
You can’t promote people indefinitely or raise their salary every time they do something right. Instead, you need to have immediate, inexpensive, repeatable and not necessarily material forms of appreciation. Picking the appropriate method at an appropriate time is crucial to your success.
With that in mind and without further ado, here are several ways for you to show appreciation to your employees in just the right way.
1. One-on-one conversation
The first thing you need to do is set up a one-on-one conversation with your employee to tell them that you appreciate all the hard work that they’ve been putting in. There are several reasons why one-on-one conversations are the best solution.
- This doesn’t single out an employee to create envy in the eyes of their colleagues.
- An employer is demonstrating that the employee in question is worth their time.
- The content (and topic) of the conversation can be customized.
You see, praising someone in front of their peers can feel good but it’s not the most tactful way to go about this. Also, a lot of praise can sound generic. This is why you must invest the effort to get to know what they’re doing. For instance:
- Thank you for all the hard work – sounds generic.
- I like how you handled that X (specific) situation – sounds genuine.
The value of the conversation is measured by its content and the effect that it creates. Whether or not this will do the trick is up to you.
Just remember that while getting to know your employees is, generally, a good idea, fraternizing with the workforce can have an adverse effect. It will be the root of many claims of favouritism and bias.
2. Be creative with your rewards
Not everyone is motivated by the potential for a promotion or a raise. Sure, these are the two biggest potential advantages but you have so many options. Sometimes it’s thoughtful enough to use quality gift baskets to say thank you. They are also appropriate as a reward for a smaller success. After all, you can’t promote someone just because they’ve done one task successfully. You shouldn’t ignore it either.
The most important thing you need to do is be creative with your rewards. A couple of days off, tickets to a game, a paid course or something similar can be completely invaluable. This is because they’re not generic. It proves that you’ve made an active effort to learn and acquire the item in question.
3. Lateral moves
Another great reward is the opportunity for lateral movement within your organization. Ask your employee to tell you where they see themselves in five years. You can use the meeting described in the first section as an opportunity to do so. Encourage them to be honest and tell them that it’s fine if they plan to move somewhere else at this time.
Then, you can put them in a position from which they can either advance towards their preferred career path or acquire skills that they will need later in a career. The problem is that this is a touchy subject and you need to be 100% sure that:
- This is something that your employee wants.
- You can afford to put them in this position.
Needless to say, regardless of how much you want to show your appreciation, you’re making a business decision.
4. Encourage positive behaviour
Productivity is not everything and there are a lot of scenarios in which some of your most productive employees harm the rest of your staff. The star employee can sometimes be the backstabber, while the “Siren” type of employee may steal everyone’s spotlight. There are a lot of employees that you definitely shouldn’t keep around.
An ancient Cherokee proverb states that you have two wolves inside of you. One represents all that is good, while the other one represents all that is bad. These two wolves are in a constant struggle. So, which one wins? The one that you feed. The same thing goes for your corporate culture – the values you encourage (reward) will triumph.
If you want to nurture team spirit, you need to clearly define the concept of a team win and think of a suitable reward. Track these team wins and try to turn this into a friendly competition. This type of competition is far less toxic and it is less likely for things to get out of hand.
5. Only reward them when they earn it
There’s no simpler way of making a reward/praise feel empty than to give it out when the person in question knows that they haven’t earned it. By giving someone applause for doing something menial, you will make it all feel empty. The worst part lies in the fact that by praising people for doing absolutely nothing, you will discourage others who do commit to this work.
Every task needs to feel like a challenge and every reward/praise needs to be appropriate to the accomplishment that comes from it. One of the biggest challenges that millennials currently experience (as the bulk of the modern workforce), is the fact that they don’t feel like they’re contributing.
To make the long story short, your employees don’t want to feel valued. They want to feel valuable. The reason why so many managers are confusing these two is that a lot of employees feel valued when they are shown that they’re valued. Try to never confuse these two and you’ll already be on the right path.
In the end, there are just a couple of principles you need to follow to give your employees the appreciation they deserve. First, you need to know them well to know how to approach them. Generic praise and generic gifts (although nice) just won’t give the same effect as something hand-picked. Second, make sure to reward them only when they’ve earned it. Otherwise, you risk this praise feeling empty.
Jasmine Anderson is a lifestyle and beauty blogger based in Australia. She is an incurable daydreamer, who finds inspiration in little, everyday moments. Spending time at her cozy home office with her two cats, writing her blog, is her favorite thing in the world.