7 Ways to Ignite Employee Engagement and Boost Your Bottom Line

Here's how employers can embrace a culture of appreciation to drive wellbeing, performance and profit.

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
CEO of Evoluccion Consulting Agency
6 min read
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Covid-19 has changed the way we live and work, bringing unprecedented levels of panic and confusion to our communities and professional lives. When psychological fatigue rises to the forefront of work environments, tokens of appreciation can play a critical role in jump-starting employee motivation. Positive reinforcement can create a feeling of oneness within an organization.

Prioritizing appreciation in organizational culture is the only way to ensure reward and recognition do not become a Covid casualty. Recent research with over 200,000 employees worldwide highlighted that one aspect of work had not changed because of the pandemic: Employees want their colleagues and leaders to show them appreciation.

Related: The 4 Pillars of Employee Appreciation

A 2020 study on the New Rules of Engagement reinforced that employee recognition is the key to driving commitment to the organization. What a company recognizes gets repeated. Employees who feel appreciated show commitment and dedication in their work.

Gone are the days of the occasional office shout, the pat on the back as you pass an employee's desk. These old-fashioned forms of appreciation do not cut it in a new world. Employees are the lifeblood of every organization. Here are seven recognition ideas to offset the stress of a crisis and build a culture of appreciation. 

Employees deserve more, so give them more 

From top-level executives to new graduates, thank them all. The unsung heroes, the on-site achievers, frontline and back-office end, each one of your people has adapted and persevered during the pandemic. Include everyone who has helped the organization survive in your celebrations. Explore personal, meaningful and memorable ways to express gratitude for people's efforts, tears and sacrifices over this past year.

Employee appreciation makes a positive impact on day-to-day interactions and workplace culture. The 2021 O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report highlighted how employees find experiential gifts, gifts and merchandise, cash or gift cards, and custom or personalized symbols the most meaningful awards for achievement recognition. O.C. Tanner set up a one-time gift experience that allows their employees to select from thousands of the latest gadgets, gear and merchandise so every person can find a gift that means most to him or her. 

Don't just recognize, appreciate

Being personal means being authentic. In a virtual world of recognition, your expression of appreciation must be specific and unique regardless of platform. Structure your thoughts to reflect your employees' situations, whether it be a challenging client experience, a conflict with a team member or a process that fell apart. Explore the action taken and what precisely they did to turn the situation around. Were they patient with a colleague who was having a breakdown, did they volunteer to cover a coworker who was ill, or did they conevert a training into a virtual experience? Delve deeper into the impact they had and the difference they made. Lastly, connect what they did back to the values of your team and organization.

Celebrate individual and team success as proof of what is possible

In times of crisis, waves of heartbreaking news can impact morale quickly. Resilient organizations purposefully focus on communications that do not sugar-coat or minimize the realities people face; they work hard to soothe the hearts and minds of people with hope and confidence. Companies generate power by embracing opportunities to move forward rather than immersing themselves in victimhood. Focus on where people are succeeding, how metrics can be influenced and celebrate small victories to illuminate a pathway to even more significant gains.

Related: 7 Ways Modest Leadership Increases Team Success

Acknowledge accomplishments in other ways

There are many ways to celebrate employees that don't always involve a gift from a catalogue. Introduce internal or virtual social walls where employees can see and comment on colleagues' accomplishments or a personalized yearbook with symbolic workplace anniversaries, thoughts and photos. E-cards, giving the gift of learning through self-development workshops or an employee appreciation team-building exercise can positively impact employee satisfaction.

GE Appliances runs a program called Recognise YOU to empower managers to appreciate and interact with their teams and share their campaigns for recognition. ''Thankful Thursdays" encourage employees to send out e-cards and recognize each other.

Geographically dispersed remote options

Many employees have been working remotely for a while and have adapted to make-shift workstations, a spare countertop or dining-room table. Organizations can give value by presenting employees with a sit-stand desk converter that demonstrates concern for their wellbeing. Additionally, using local businesses to deliver small rewards such as gift cards for local restaurants seems more personal and valuable to geographically dispersed remote teams.

It's the little things that matter

Workplace gratitude data from Workhuman shares how saying thank you to employees can impact employee retention and company culture. "Thank you" is a powerful motivator to relieve stress and improve productivity: 66 percent of employees felt more connected to their colleagues, 64 percent felt more motivated to work harder and 61 percent said it helped ease the stress of working remotely. The gift of attention can be the best show of appreciation a human being can provide. Simply having uninterrupted one-on-one time with you lets your people know that they matter.

Related: Make Your 'Thank You' Matter – Learn the 'Power Thank You'

Go the extra mile with your peers

Employee peer recognition deserves attention and is one of the essential building blocks in building company culture. PeoplePulse research reflected that organizations using strategic peer recognition programs are 48 percent more likely to report high staff engagement. Human beings love to receive praise for their efforts or moral support. Recognition from a fellow team member results in an increased level of pride and validation.

Microbonuses are small rewards given frequently by one colleague to another in gratitude of value contribution and have the most significant impact as action is rewarded in real time. Recognizing your peers can include the following:

  • Writing a thank-you note in appreciation of a coworker's work.
  • Writing a small post on LinkedIn.
  • Tagging your colleague.
  • Highlighting your peer's great work and support in a team meeting.

With these small but significant gestures, you can keep your employees happy and engaged and that does great things for your business's bottom line. 

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