Finding and keeping hard-working staff is a challenge any time. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the process has become even more complex. Figuring out how to celebrate employees and their efforts may be the thing that makes them loyal enough to stay with your company and help grow it into a powerhouse.
How can you properly celebrate employees in a way they’ll appreciate? It might seem like a good idea to order pizza on Fridays, but what about your gluten free workers or those who are tired of pizza on Fridays? Finding new ways to show your appreciation matters and helps build good company culture where staff feels valued.
How Do You Reward Employees Virtually?
Some or all of your team might be remote at this point in your company’s history. Others may take a hybrid approach, where they work from home part time and in the office the rest.
Researchers from Ladders recently released statistics on what the future of remote work looks like in North America. They looked at the largest 50,000 employers. They found remote opportunities increased 4% with a projection to be at 25% of all jobs by 2023.
How do you celebrate employees when they work remotely? With virtual events, of course, so we’ve added a few ways you can appreciate your work-at-home team. Here are ideas for how to celebrate employees and top performers.
1. Track Progress and Contributions
Your quiet employees can sometimes be overlooked as the more gregarious ones will shout their own praises or stand out more. Carefully document the efforts of all your staff. Everyone contributes something to the team, even if just a helping hand.
Celebrate employees who make extreme efforts, but don’t overlook the consistent efforts of others. A good practice is to filter through a list of employees, ensuring you reward each one for something they’ve done. If you aren’t sure, talk to their direct supervisor and find out.
When discussing these achievements with workers, point out why those efforts matter. Explain how they help the team and the organization meet relevant goals.
2. Offer Mental Health Breaks
Every employee can benefit from a break — mental health is an ongoing struggle for many workers. Instead of a gift card every time, offer the option to leave work an hour or two early or take a long lunch occasionally as part of a way to celebrate employees and their efforts.
Offer Fridays off during the summer or a monthly day to do whatever they want. You’ll find your workers come back refreshed and more productive than before.
It’s also important to create an open and accepting environment. Then, employees will feel more comfortable about disclosing their mental health challenges with you. Whether they discuss stress related to imposter syndrome or impending burnout, always listen with a compassionate ear. Besides giving employees mental health breaks, prevent further issues by working together to make positive changes.
3. Give Them Food
Although pizza days might get a bad rap, it’s okay to offer food sometimes. Everyone loves a free lunch, fun food trucks in the parking lot, or some other event. You can celebrate all your employees at once by offering such a perk.
There’s nothing wrong with pizza Friday, as long as it isn’t the only reward you ever offer. If you are on a tight budget because you’re starting out, you can mix it up and have Taco Tuesday, put treat bags on their desks or any number of other affordable gifts.
Keep in mind that people have varied diets and preferences. Any food you bring into the office to celebrate employees should reflect that reality. Offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options whenever possible. Another option, which prioritizes fairness, is to let people vote on the food they want. Send out an email poll at least a few days before ordering food. Then, choose the restaurant or type of cuisine based on people’s responses.
4. Give Shoutouts
Create a company culture that recognizes how everyone plays a special part in building a strong business. Your managers should give recognition verbally to workers during daily meetings. However, you should also allow your employees to give kudos to one another.
For example, Sally is working on a big project for a client when her computer shuts off. IT rushes to fix the issue so she can meet her deadline. She might offer accolades to the person who rushed the order and fixed her computer problem.
Consider creating an easy-to-use online form employees can use to celebrate each other’s contributions. Include fields where a person can specify the name of the worker they want to recognize and why. Encourage people to be as detailed as possible when describing a notable situation. When workers receive positive feedback, they usually appreciate knowing precisely what stood out about their actions. That’s more meaningful than merely saying, “Good job, you’re a valued team member.”
5. Improve the Workspace
Having a beautiful space to work in can improve creativity and add to the pleasant atmosphere of the office. Celebrate employees by adding a fresh coat of paint, purchasing ergonomic seating, or even adding some artwork to brighten things up.
Pay attention to employee feedback when making these updates. After all, one of the best ways to celebrate employees is to assure them they’re heard. Maybe people mentioned it’s difficult to find places at work to focus when they’re under pressure. In that case, one option is to create quiet areas that people can use for the short term. Curtains, dividers, and screens can also segment parts of the workplace.
Are you on a budget? Make small changes to create more comfortable working conditions. Some studies show a higher temperature between 72 and 73 increases productivity and improves the environment. Of course, you also must consider those who like things a bit cooler. Perhaps create temperature zones that work best depending upon staff’s various preferences.
6. Provide Hybrid Working Options
Ongoing research indicates many people would like to work from home at least part of the time. It’s not the right option for everyone. However, you can celebrate employees by giving them the opportunity to try a hybrid working arrangement.
Doing that shows trust and conveys the belief they’ll stay productive under less supervision. Set aside time to talk with employees about the days they’ll come into the office versus stay at home. Discuss how your company could help them have a more functional home office, too.
That might mean covering the cost of an ergonomic chair and a new desk. Many people working from home feel they must do it from the kitchen table or couch. However, it’s better for them to have a dedicated workspace. Another possibility is to adjust the hours they work from home. That way, an employee could work around other obligations, like taking their kids to school.
7. Build Relationships
Use your efforts to celebrate employees by building relationships with them. Reward a job well done with lunch out with the boss. Invite them to your home for a barbecue one weekend. Invest in their lives and they’ll become loyal to your company and realize how much you appreciate their skill sets.
Some rewards can be fun and serve a purpose, such as team-building activities. Give them the day free of regular work. Then, they can go to an escape room or another shared activity, but still wrap up early to relax.
Cultivating relationships can happen during every interaction you have with a team member. Don’t just reserve the effort for when you intend to celebrate employees. For example, when meeting one-on-one with someone, don’t get down to business immediately. Ask the employee if they have any fun weekend plans or are excited about an upcoming holiday. Find out about their hobbies and passions.
8. Rotate Among Staff
Encourage your managers to not give recognition to the same people all the time. In a Gallup poll of 7,500 employees in the United States, a mere 26% felt recognition was dealt out fairly for similar performance levels. In other words, 74% see the system at their company as intrinsically unfair and filled with favoritism.
Choose two people a month and point out all their contributions and positive qualities. Make sure rewards are similar. It’s easy to recognize the people you like and whose personalities complement yours. As a manager, you have a responsibility to point out the accomplishments of even the people you don’t click well with.
This approach prevents people from making accusations of favoritism. It also helps them feel they’re getting equally rewarded and respected for their hard work.
Celebrate Employees Constantly
You don’t have to wait for a meeting or a specific event to celebrate employees. Send notes of appreciation. Let people know you see their value. The worker who is feeling a bit overwhelmed or overlooked may need the boost of a few words of passing praise as you wrap up a one-on-one meeting. Develop a culture that is positive and uplifting and people will stay in your employ for many years.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.