Whenever I ask an audience “what do you do for employee appreciation?” the first things I often hear relate to Pins, Pizza, Plaques and Parking Spaces. Awesome! Formal recognition and employee appreciation parties are a great start.
However, your recognition becomes more meaningful when it’s specific and personalized. Your team members each want to know that you, their boss, notice and appreciate the individual contribution they make. Gallup studies show that the most meaningful recognition comes from a person’s direct supervisor, and in the form of personal feedback.
If you’ve heard me speak, you may have heard me talk about my former boss, Dawn Winder. I was working as an activities director in a senior living community and was having a bad week. She called me in to her office to express concern, and I did the one thing you never want to do in your boss’ office. Yep. I burst into tears. In the process of sharing my thoughts with her, I said something along the lines of “I feel like I’m not getting anything done!”
We had a great talk and I felt better by the time I left her office. About 5 minutes later, I noticed a note in my mailbox. It had my name on it, in Dawn’s handwriting. Inside was a card filled with photos of me leading activities with residents of the community. The note read, “Does this look like an activities director who isn’t getting anything done?”
This was about 20 years ago, and I still remember how it made me feel. I felt cared about, appreciated and like I was making a difference. Dawn is a friend and role model to me to this day.
Then there is the audience member who told me about a handwritten note she gave an employee. Ten years later she was working somewhere else, and the same employee showed up for an interview. In his portfolio there was the thank you note she gave him. He had kept it for ten years!!
The parties, the pizza, the pins and the plaques are great! However, it’s the informal acts of employee appreciation that make a greater impact. Which brings me to your….
Employee Appreciation Challenge
For the next 30 days, write one handwritten note of appreciation to one of your employees (or coworkers) a day! If you keep the cards on your desk, this should take you 5 minutes a day. Do them in the morning, at lunch, or before you leave for the day – whatever helps you to get it done.
Doug Conant, former President & CEO of Campbell Soup (and largely credited for revitalizing the company) wrote 25 handwritten notes to show employee appreciation every single day. Certainly, you and I can write one a day!
Think through what you truly appreciate about each person, and make a specific mention about their contribution and the gifts they bring to the job. I can’t think of a better week to begin this practice than the week of Thanksgiving!
What do you say? Are you in? Comment below and let me know, and while you’re there share some of your tips for employee appreciation.
Donna Cutting is the Founder and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc, and leads a team of customer service consultants who help leaders engage their people to deliver a world-class customer experience. She’s the author of 2 books on customer service, including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. Donna lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband Jim and their two rescue dogs, Moxie and Tonks.