3 Mini-Case Studies in Employee Appreciation

Share your heartfelt thanks this Employee Appreciation Day!

Celebrate genuine workplace gratitude and teamwork for Employee Appreciation Day on March 3. (Photo via AFGE, Flickr)

Employee Appreciation Day is this Friday, March 3. To get ready, we combed the news for case studies in effective, original employee appreciation to inspire your efforts.

What makes a good employee appreciation program?

Hppy’s infographic Top 10 Best Workplace Incentives has three criteria for worthwhile employee appreciation.

First, it reduces turnover. Watching coworkers quit in frustration is demoralizing. It feeds gossip and unhappiness among staff and slows down productivity.

Unappreciated, stressed-out employees will eventually seek happiness elsewhere, “joining the 2.7 million people who quit their jobs each month,” according to Hppy. “And as any HR professional knows, turnover is the bane of corporate existence. It takes at least 20 percent of a person’s salary to replace them — not to mention the time and energy you’ll spend conducting interviews and reading applications.”

Second, it saves money — but maybe not immediately: “Many companies hesitate to start incentives programs because of the costs it will incur. But these costs are relatively small compared to the money you’ll save in the long run.”

Third, it generates good. Ultimately, employee appreciation is “about creating a better workplace — and a better world,” according to Hppy. “Take Facebook: they offer moms and dads four months of paid time off to spend with their new baby, plus pay adoption fees. By supporting parents, Facebook contributes to a more stable, family-oriented society.”

Great Employee Appreciation = Attitude + Action

We’d add a fourth criteria for great employee appreciation: a strong, genuine sense of gratitude. Without clearly communicated gratitude, employee appreciation efforts fall flat.

Gratitude is also essential to your company brand.

Lack of gratitude drives job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism and burnout. It sours the culture. According to gratitude expert Robert Emmons, quoted in the Fast Company article “The Science of Gratitude and Why It’s Important in Your Workplace,” expressing thanks is the remedy.

“Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for,” he says.

Truly effective employee appreciation is a balance of action and attitude.

According to the Association for Talent Development, “Appreciation requires more than behavior; it requires ‘heart attitude.’ This is really the difficult part of appreciation — it has to be genuine. You can’t fake it.”

Inspirational Examples of Employee Appreciation

Gratitude-filled employee appreciation helps your team stick together, focus, innovate and pursue excellence. Here are three case studies of employee appreciation done right. Be inspired — and don’t forget to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day on Friday!

1. 27-year veteran brewpub server knows the secret to low turnover

In a Cleveland.com profile about her retirement, Great Lakes Brewing Company server Mary Asmus says she stayed with the brewpub 27 years because her employers hire quality people and treat their employees well:

“I love all the people I work with. [The owners] are so good at hiring quality people. That has developed over the years. In the beginning there were workers getting fired all the time. Now there is very little turnover. So many people have worked here 15, 20 years. You just don’t leave because it’s a good place to work.”

The brewery also has a stellar employee-recognition program that honors various work milestones, she says:

“For my 25th [anniversary] it was an eight-day guided bus tour for pubs in Ireland. They called it ‘a tour of breweries in Europe.’ I’m Irish and had never been to Ireland. It was an obvious choice for me. They’re wonderful people to work for.”

The feeling is mutual. The Great Lakes Brewing Company owners say Asmus is “kind, generous in spirit, unflappable, has grace under pressure, a good sense of humor, and is honest.”

2. Going out in the field for ‘hands-on’ employee appreciation

Experts say employee appreciation is best expressed in person by company leaders — and this is especially relevant for farm laborers working remotely in fields.

Taylor Farms of California did this kind of “hands-on” employee appreciation when it surprised two teams of pickers out on the field, according to an announcement in Perishable News.

Nearly 30 team members were honored and surprised with breakfast, coffee, handwritten Thank You notes from Taylor Farms and $25 gift cards. In addition, each crew got two raffle prizes.

“We pride ourselves on taking care of one another. With family culture being our foundation, it is essential that we show appreciation and support to team members across the company,” said Christina Barnard, director of marketing at Taylor Farms.

Taylor Farms planned the celebration with the help of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association and Labor of Love, an organization that raises awareness about and shows appreciation to farming employees with efforts such as breakfast on the farm for farm crews, random acts of kindness throughout the season and sharing stories of workers.

3. Writing letters to employees’ parents is the ultimate show of appreciation

You’ve probably heard about PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyis much-publicized tradition of writing an average of 400 Thank You letters each year to her employees’ parents. She recently explained why she started the practice — and the effect it has on employees.

She says the idea started on a visit home to her family in India, according to CNBC.

“When I got home and I sat in the living room, a stream of visitors and random people started to show up. They’d go to my mom and say, ‘You did such a good job with your daughter. Compliments to you. She’s CEO.’ But not a word to me.”

Nooyi realized it was her mother and her late father who were responsible for much of her success, and they deserved to reap the praise. She wanted to do the same for the parents of her executives at PepsiCo, and started writing letters.

The first paragraph is always about what their child is doing at PepsiCo, followed by, “Thank you for the gift of your child to our company.”

Nooyi says the letters opened a “floodgate of emotions.”

Parents wrote back to her to say they were honored, Nooyi recalls, and shared the letter with friends and family.

Some of the executives told her, “‘My God, this is the best thing that’s happened to my parents. And it’s the best thing that’s happened to me.'”

Want more employee appreciation inspiration? Check out LYONSCG senior project manager Sean Howard’s blog post on finding gratitude in the workplace, or Quantum Workplace’s “10 Low-Cost Employee Engagement Ideas.”

And, of course…

Download Your FREE 2017 Employee Recognition Calendar!

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author

Download the gThankYou 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar for resources and advice to help your organization thrive this year. Our calendar guide gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free.

Here’s to a happier workplace in 2017.

Click to download your FREE 2017 Guide to Building an Everyday Culture of Appreciation!

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