With 2022 quickly coming to a close, business leaders across industries and sectors should begin thinking of the best ways to acknowledge their employees for all their hard work. In fact, every modern company should have a detailed employee appreciation plan that they implement frequently throughout the year, rather than just as a one-off at the end of the year.
It is crucial to demonstrate to your employees that they matter and that you see, hear, and respect them as individuals; integral parts of a healthy, positive collective and culture. Whether you have implemented some appreciation strategies this year or not, there’s no denying that the end of the year is an ideal time for employee appreciation. It not only bolsters employee retention, but also improves your employer brand.
With all of these benefits in mind, here are some employee appreciation ideas you can implement to delight your staff. But first, let’s clear up one common misconception.
Difference between employee recognition and rewards
Before we dive deeper into employee appreciation strategies, we must first draw a clear line between recognition and rewards. Employee recognition focuses on building a deeper bond between the employee and the brand, as well as their colleagues. Typically, employee appreciation is about immaterial rewards that have emotional value attached to them. These rewards can be anything from acknowledging an employee in a group meeting to nominating them for a place on your “wall of fame.”
On the other hand, employee rewards are typically material in nature or have some sort of transactional value attached to them. Think of these rewards as end-of-year financial bonuses, free advancement programs, or more vacation days. It is important to keep in mind that both are crucial for a well-rounded, successful employee appreciation plan.
When you are thinking of employee rewards and recognition ideas, you need a good mix of both in order to build emotional bonds with your employees as well as delight them with tangible rewards.
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Send personalized care packages
Some of the most successful employer brands are those who intentionally dedicate their time and effort into getting to know their employees. Capturing as much data about the individual as possible is important for many mission-critical goals and objectives, such as improving individual productivity, helping people internalize your culture, and raising overall job satisfaction. When the time comes for your HR team to start generating employee appreciation ideas, this data will be invaluable.
Why is this data so useful? Personalization makes all the difference in outreach attempts such as care packages. A care package is a particularly useful employee appreciation idea to recognize your remote teams. Employee appreciation can be challenging with remote teams due to not sharing a physical workplace; however, a care package shows all employees, remote or in-person, that you recognize and care about them as individuals.
While you don’t need to make care packages hyper-personalized, you should still acknowledge the individual’s unique traits, values, core drivers, and beliefs.
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Improve motivation with two-way feedback
Actionable feedback is a vital element to add to your employee recognition mix. Two-way feedback is something you should facilitate in your workplace all year long; the end-of-the-year period is when you should summarize all the feedback you’ve received, put it into perspective, and note the concrete steps you will take to implement changes.
This feedback process is not just something that the HR leaders need to do, it must involve the upper management as well. Using feedback to kick-start tangible and positive changes in your company is a great way to support extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in the workplace, helping people work harder towards specific goals and personal fulfillment in 2023.
Firstly, compile the feedback and sentiment of the higher-ups towards the employees. Think of ways you can act on that feedback in 2023 and support your employees to internalize it moving forward. Secondly, compile the feedback that people have given to the higher-ups and the company overall, and announce the steps you will take to satisfy their needs in the following year. This feedback process is the most impactful way to keep your best employees at your side.
Have everyone nominate a colleague
Employees not only want to feel appreciated by their bosses and team leads, they also want to feel appreciated and acknowledged by their colleagues. There’s nothing quite like receiving words of praise to improve engagement, and genuine appreciation from a colleague, whom you’ve helped achieve their goal at work or solve a particularly challenging task, goes a long way in bolstering workplace satisfaction.
That’s why you can show your appreciation with these and other types of nominations; for example, have employees nominate each other for employee of the month or employee superstar. Accomplish this by gathering everyone together in a virtual or on-site meeting, and have everyone nominate a colleague they feel deserves a shout-out.
The key is to let each employee explain why they’re nominating their colleague and the ways in which that individual has helped them, the collective, and the company.
Provide free training with certificates
Rewarding your employees with professional development opportunities is both a material reward and an important part of value-based recognition. In other words, by providing free training you’re not only bringing value back into the company through their new skills, but also inspiring and motivating the individual to keep pushing their career forward.
You can personalize the training programs according to the different teams and positions in your company, and then use certificate templates to recognize the employees for their hard work after completing the training module. You can personalize a template to reflect their position and outline the new skills they have acquired, along with proper branding to truly make it your own.
The certificate itself is a small but important gesture that will motivate and inspire your employees, and the training you provide is what will bring that rewarding feeling, so be sure to invest in both.
Don’t forget about the financial rewards
Last but not least, we can’t forget about financial rewards. Money is an important piece of the employee appreciation puzzle. After all, people work to earn a salary that fulfills their basic needs and supports their lifestyle, and they develop deep bonds with the employers that support their lifestyle and their work-life balance.
Without a doubt, money matters to your employees as much as their employee experience, and the end-of-the-year period is the time to start dishing out those bonuses. You can also complement the financial rewards with some additional perks for your superstars and most valuable employees, such as additional vacation days or vouchers for various online retailers.
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Over to you
If you want to keep the best of the best at your side and build a thriving employee collective, then employee appreciation cannot be something you do once a year. This process is an ongoing, year-long one in which you must constantly put in the effort and resources to show your employees just how much you appreciate the time and effort they put into your business.
That said, the end-of-the-year period is definitely a time when you need to double down on your employee appreciation program in order to bring the year to a successful close and inspire people to give it their all going forward. Use these ideas to strengthen your culture and the bonds that your teams share with the brand.
This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.
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