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3 Easy Ways to Show Your Employees Appreciation This Year Make sure your team feels supported on Employee Appreciation Day (March 4) … and every other day this year.
Whether you're in an office, managing a fully remote team, or running a hybrid of the two, it's never a bad idea to let your employees know that you appreciate all their hard work—says Lucy Chung, CEO & Co-Founder of NOBL, a global organizational design firm that specializes in tailoring corporate culture to attract and retain the best talent.
We spoke with team managers to learn what companies were doing well when it comes to recognizing employees. Employers around the globe shared dozens of smart ideas—and then we tapped Chung for pro tips on implementing them. These are the three that stood out as the most effective—while also being incredibly easy to execute. (Hint: Since offices essentially run on coffee, a Starbucks Card is always well-received.)
1. Give them the gift of coffee & treats
Many managers said they were trying to be thoughtful about the "extras" this year. This doesn't mean cutting a giant check, but rather considering what would be particularly meaningful to your team members. An accessible idea that came up again and again? Gift cards. Managers said they've sent gift cards for all sorts of things — most applicably, coffee. "We have managers liberally giving out gift cards to Starbucks," says Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building, which provides virtual team building activities for remote teams and corporate events. "We love sending Starbucks gift cards to our crew for a few reasons. First, there are many Starbucks locations so our distributed team members can use the cards locally. It's also a premium brand where our staffers have go-to orders. Third, Starbucks is an appropriate gift for work because many people drink coffee or tea to help brighten their workday. Finally, it's a gift card that people actually use."
A Starbucks Card is sure to be well received and incredibly easy to order for all the superstars on your team. In fact, Starbucks has a site where you can buy gift cards in bulk. To ensure a fast and safe delivery, managers can order eGift cards to be sent virtually to employees working remote. And for those looking for a special touch, co-branded cards are available too, allowing you to print your own company logo on physical and digital card bulk orders.
Get a jump on Employee Appreciation Day and order Starbucks Cards now with special code StarbucksEAD5 to receive 5% off when your total card value is $1,000 or more. Offer is valid February 21st through March 6th, conditions apply.
2. Schedule regular check-ins, send satisfaction surveys, and introduce stay interviews.
Let's start with stay interviews, which might be unfamiliar to you. They're trending in response to the Great Resignation of 2021 and are essentially the opposite of an exit interview. Instead of asking an employee what led to them quitting, a stay interview, which is often casual, focuses on why they stick around, what they see for their role in the future, and what sorts of things they'd like to change. These interviews demonstrate to your employees you're not only listening to them, but that you value what they have to say and want them to succeed and enjoy their jobs.
Managers also called out that they're scheduling more frequent one-on-ones with all direct reports. "These sessions, whilst mostly informal, serve as a great way to provide employees with positive reinforcement and constructive feedback," says Teresha Aird, Co-Founder and CMO at Offices.net, an online source for finding executive offices and coworking spaces across the United States. Managers focus questions on the role of each employee and the work they've been doing since the last check-in. "These check-ins also focus heavily on topics outside of the workplace, which I think helps to build cohesion and ensure that remote employees feel connected to management. I often find myself discussing family and picking up great recommendations for new TV shows."
Another great way to make sure employees feel heard and recognized? Anonymous employee satisfaction surveys. Aird sends them out quarterly and says they're used to inform future decisions and help fix any issues that may arise. Her surveys are mostly questions with a response scale of 1 to 5, but there are open-ended questions, as well. "Based on the answers, we've introduced more flexible working schedules and virtual team building activities, two things that were heavily requested in early satisfaction surveys."
Pro tip: Use these surveys and meetings to create policies that recognize what employees say they need. "Listening is always a good strategy," says Chung. "Interviewing current employees about what they're looking for from their employers and then actually doing something with the insights is key." Take the feedback and use it in a meaningful way that enacts change.
3. Set up a virtual platform for wins and celebrations.
Work accomplishments and personal milestones deserve to be shouted from the rooftop, and many of the managers we spoke with reported that their staffers appreciate the recognition. We heard of two key ways to give shout-outs to employees: through chat channels and virtual meetings.
"We created a "celebrations" channel in Microsoft Teams, where employees acknowledge each other's work and life achievements," says Sherryanne Meyer, Corporate Communications Director at Rizing, a consulting firm that helps companies using SAP solutions. Here, employees can post announcements to introduce new babies, congratulate someone for getting an important certification, share good feedback from clients, and more. "Any employee can be tagged in the post, which raises awareness of individual achievements and helps us get to know each other. When we see good news or fun tidbits come in, it breaks up the day—and reminds us of what we value."
For something even more visible, many managers suggest a weekly all-hands staff meeting. David Ciccarelli, CEO at Voices, a voice over and audio production company, holds a weekly huddle, which lasts for only fifteen minutes and still allows for plenty of time to recognize employees. "We open the huddle with "good news,' which often covers work anniversaries, work milestones, and birthdays. We also announce promotions and welcome new employees into the company. We wrap the huddle with "thank yous,' a moment of gratitude when people can thank each other for their service or contributions. Someone might thank a colleague for covering their work while on vacation, for example." Think of these options as a modern-day Employee of the Month–only much more inclusive and morale boosting.
Pro tip: This praise shouldn't just come from managers to subordinates. "Managers should be giving that kind of feedback regularly in meaningful, substantive 1:1 development conversations," Chung explains. "It's peers praising peers." Encourage your team to use the time to thank their peers for help or congratulate them for a job well done. And just know that building kudos into a culture takes time and ritual. Stick with it!