The secret to creating a work environment employee’s want to work is to recognize their hard work in creative ways that will be appreciated. Employee appreciation programs need to be researched before implementation, and the conversation starts with employees. It is one of the best ways to retain top talent in a workforce of professionals that often feel disengaged at work.

Start a Conversation

The best source of information to enhance the employee experience starts with, employees. It can be achieved with one of the following strategies:

  • A survey with open-ended questions
  • Townhall meeting: Invite all employees to provide an open platform for creative ideas
  • Onboarding: a form for new hires to share if recognition to them means a bonus, gift card or visible recognition
  • Teams: ask managers to have the discussion with the team, tally the results and send to Human Resources

Once employees receive an invitation to share their opinion, it is the first start of changing the company culture.

1. Employee Appreciation Day

Once a year hold an Employee Appreciation Day with a half-day event on-site with an opening speech by the CEO, barbecued food, awards handed out to high performing employees and entertainment. The entertainment can be a bowling alley set up in the parking lot.

2. Tailored Employee Benefits

Do you have customers with medical conditions? For example, if an employee uses glasses or eye contacts to improve eyesight, provide an optometrist benefit package. If a customer recently had a car accident, present a massage therapist in your area to help them get back in good health. A benefits package tailored to each employee need can be a factor why employees might decide to stay with your organization long term.

3. An Employee of the Month Trophy

A rotating trophy is a creative award to give employees that are high performers of the month. Do you have an employee performance map? An employee performance map includes KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and levels of success to achieve that includes exceeding expectations. The rotating trophy for an employee on the team that exceeds expectation. The program motivates other team members to improve mistakes, low productivity results or sales quotas.  

4. Bonuses for Performance

Now is the time to replace the conventional annual bonus with a quarterly bonus. It can be based on a company model of expectations for the following:

  • Sales: Sales quotes achieved, winning a large client
  • Customer Service: Number of inbound calls per month
  • Marketing: Number of accounts closed, successful campaign

A bonus structure is successful when it ties back to KPIs and what is expected of an employee to tap into their potential to be of value to the organization.

5. Company Swag or Apparel

I remember working for a company that gave jackets and office supplies to employees on a quarterly basis. I didn’t have to buy a spring/fall jacket or purchase new supplies for home because of the incentives.

Company apparel can include a baseball cap, polo shirt, or an umbrella with your company logo. It will make employees feel as if their hard work is rewarded. Plus, it is marketing in itself; an employee using an umbrella with a company is a walking billboard.

6. Letters of Appreciation

A handwritten letter by the CEO, president or a direct manager that shares the moment of achievement and a genuine explanation of how it helped the company is a rare act of recognition practiced by organizations. I recommend the letter starts with the achievement first, with an ending that thanks to the employee. A ‘Thank you’ at the beginning of the article will sound like a generic letter sent to all employees.