gThankYou! knows a thing or two about employee thank you programs!Why start an employee thank you program? According to MIT’s human resources article, “Best Practices for Designing and Maintaining a Program,” it’s:

“ … to recognize and reward work and behaviors that support/further the mission, goals, values and initiatives of the [organization].”

And, as research shows, workplace morale, engagement, and productivity improve when you show appreciation for your employees’ work!

Here are some key steps toward an effective employee thank you program.

Reward the Right Behaviors

For a successful employee thank you program, your initiatives should reward behaviors that you want to see continued and perfected.

Too often, well-meaning companies implement recognition programs that don’t resonate with employees. An article by @ Magazine contributor Christina Pope, Pausing for thanks: 5 healthcare recognition best practices,” quotes Ken McCollum, vice president of human resources at NorthBay Healthcare Group:

“All the nice stuff that we thought did a great job of recognizing our employees was the opposite of what the employees wanted. And not that they didn’t appreciate the recognition, we just weren’t recognizing the right things.”

It’s a common problem, Pope writes. To avoid it, work with senior management to make sure you understand the company’s mission, values, and goals. Afterwards, identify simple, meaningful actions that help your business live its mission and reach its goals in the everyday.

Involve Management and Diverse Employees in Program Design

Find out employees’ preferred recognition and what incentives motivate them best. Learn through surveys or focus groups. Then, between a team of management and employee representatives, identify both the behaviors you’ll reward and how to recognize them!

Incorporate mechanisms for managers to thank staff both formally and informally through peer-to-peer employee recognition and employee thank yous to management. Don’t forget on-the-spot recognition!

Develop an easy way for your workforce to provide ongoing feedback so you can adjust the program as needed.

Announce Your Employee Thank you program

Use multiple communication channels to tell employees when the program will launch — include goals, design, participants, and importance. Consider sending a letter from your CEO or program executive with an invitation to a kickoff that gets everyone excited!

Use email and bulletin boards to increase awareness, then hold a kickoff meeting to explain how the program works. Provide snacks and possibly a small gift for each employee. Make the presentation high-energy to build excitement, and include examples of when and how people might thank each other. Allow plenty of time for employee questions and suggestions.

Lead by Example

Top-management support is critical for the success of an employee thank you program. Senior managers should look for opportunities to show appreciation often and visibly both to individuals and teams. Keep this up, and you’ll create an organization-wide culture of appreciation!

Keep Your Program Fresh

Employee thank-you initiatives lose their sparkle after a while — to refresh your program, create a recognition task force that reviews employee feedback and recommends program adjustments and new rewards. Your once-delighted employees will be delighted once again!

Follow Expert Advice

In, “5 Employee Appreciation Best Practices by Experts,” employee recognition software provider YouEarnedIt lists advice from recognition experts! The post includes an important reminder:

[Tweet ““Consider the power and science behind the positive emotions from both giving and receiving thoughtful recognition.””]

In other words, a sincere thank-you makes you happy whether you’re showing appreciation or being recognized. Happiness promotes wellness and engagement, so thank your employees, thank your boss, and thank your peers, even if you haven’t yet developed an official employee thank you program yet!

To learn more about building a vibrant, everyday culture of employee thank yous, download our FREE eBook,  “Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude.” You’ll be amazed at how easy it is!

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