Make Employee Appreciation a Year-Round Endeavor

Today is Employee Appreciation Day, but the most successful organizations create and sustain a culture where employees are appreciated in tangible ways throughout the year.

When employees feel valued by their companies, they tend to be more engaged and motivated. A Globoforce research report titled “The Growing Influence of Employee Recognition” conducted in March 2012 found that 78 percent of employees would work harder if their efforts were better appreciated. The same study also stated that 81 percent of employees claimed recognition made them more satisfied with their jobs or positions in the company.

Appreciation can be shown in ways more meaningful than a card, a tchotchke or even a cash bonus. A sincere, in-person “thank you” is often the most impactful way to show organizational gratitude.

Following are three ways managers can show their appreciation to their employees throughout the year.

Offer both praise and coaching — in the right environment. Regular, sincere praise fosters high-functioning work environments and enriches workplace relationships. When appropriate, managers should be specific and generous with employee praise. The acknowledgement should include a description of the behavior, where and when it took place, and most importantly what changed for the better.

If coaching is required for a negative issue, the manager can speak to the employee in private and must keep the employee’s feelings in mind during coaching situations, especially when the conversation could reflect poorly on the employee’s work or professional reputation.

Communicate in real-time. Feedback should never be avoided, postponed or rescheduled. Managers should consider it a priority and try not to let more than 48 hours go by before bringing up an issue with an employee, positive or negative. Delaying a difficult conversation will only result in a laundry list of complaints, certain to overwhelm the recipient. These conversations are much easier to handle and more productive when addressed right away. A general rule of thumb: If a manager has more than three positive or negative examples of employee behavior to discuss, the conversation is long overdue.

Make feedback a priority. One of the most effective ways to acknowledge employees’ efforts is to ask for their feedback on high-priority decisions. Employees — especially millennials — want an active role in their organizations and in the decision-making process. Inviting employees to provide their perspectives and engage with managers at a deeper level will actively demonstrate appreciation for the employees’ hard work and commitment to the company.

Appreciating employees is one of the most undervalued, cost-effective ways to build a positive workplace culture. Sincere recognition can motivate and engage employees, leading to higher retention rates, increased job satisfaction and improved business results.

Halley Bock is CEO and president of Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training company. She can be reached at