The first Friday of March is Employee Appreciation Day. What a great opportunity to turn the tables, and give some well-deserved attention and focus on the people that make your entire year better, by being a meaningful part of the purpose and mission of your organization! Are you taking advantage of this opportunity to thank your team members for their hard work and effort? It may be daunting to fit a whole year’s worth of appreciation into one day (and people certainly need to know that they are valued more than once a year) but here are a few creative methods you can use.
1. A simple "Thank You"
It may seem obvious, but really, when was the last time that you thanked each of the employees that you regularly interact with at work? If the answer is anything but "Today!", take a moment and thank them now! And tomorrow... And the next day! Saying "Please" and "Thank You" when you assign tasks and ask for support in your projects goes a long way. Pausing to take the time for a true "Thank You" on a regular basis, and letting each employee know how much you appreciate their efforts, will go a long way towards their happiness at work, and in general.
Donuts, eclairs, cupcakes… A small, yet delicious, gesture from time to time will go far in letting your team know you appreciate them. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your gesture! One of my team members recently told me that a former boss of hers once called her husband to find out what her favorite Starbucks drink was, and then brought it to her! Even the simplest gesture can go a long way when it is done thoughtfully.
3. Time off
Closing the office early (while still paying your employees) from time to time goes a long way towards indicating value to your team. If you are too caught up in productivity to think this is a good idea, that is a great indicator that it’s time to rethink your management strategy. People do not do their best work when they are driven to exhaustion, and deprived of special moments to stop, breathe, and know they are appreciated.
4. A fun group activity
There are all kinds of fun, team building activities you can do. For example, team lunches are great! Go out, or order in and watch a movie together, or find a group activity that will be enjoyable for everyone while reinforcing the connection between your employees. Create freedom within your company for employees to take initiative and put their own ideas into action. If someone wants to start a running club or Bible study, why not? These things can create a great sense of community and turn lunchtime into a welcomed bonding moment.
5. Tools for success
Regularly check with your team to ensure that they have the resources that they need in order to effectively do their jobs. You cannot expect excellence from an employee who lacks the tools that they need. If you are cutting corners to save a few dollars on these items, you are likely paying a higher price in wasted salary time than you realize. Also, don’t forget to share the company’s successes (and struggles) with your team. You may not be able to tell everyone everything, but let people know as much as you can. Of course this requires wisdom on your part, but this will fuel their motivation and give them a “why” behind the reason that they are doing their jobs. If you are all united in the same mission, success will come to the organization in a much more enduring and meaningful way.
Never forget that you are responsible for your team. Seek help and hold yourself accountable for the struggles of each person and assume responsibility as a leader for the health of the whole group. Part of being a leader is taking on the burden of others, and cultivating an environment where the best of each person can be brought out.