Celebrating your employees’ achievements makes them feel valued, allows them to strengthen workplace relationships and inspires them to work hard for your company. There are endless ways to recognize workers’ efforts—here are examples of great workplace celebrations from formal events to a simple employee picnic that any company can modify to fit their culture and budget. Now that springtime has finally arrived, you have more options than ever!
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Celebrate In The Great Outdoors
Time outside in the sun is a reward in itself—who doesn’t love getting out of the office to enjoy beautiful weather? Company picnics are a beloved classic. Keep it simple with a potluck meal and employee softball game or go all out with a themed event, such as a carnival or an international food day. TastyCatering post “30 of the Best Company Picnic Themes,” suggests a Caribbean picnic.
“[The Caribbean] has tons of unique flavors and combinations that would be great for any company picnic, such as a Caribbean pig roast and jerk chicken. Your picnic should be very colorful—include lots of blues, pinks and greens in your décor.”
A picnic celebration doesn’t have to be limited to just food. Include structured or unstructured games or activities to build community and cross-functional engagement. Maryland company Calleva specializes in hosting great workplace celebrations and shares some of its success stories in “Corp. Examples.” To empower its sales team, Winchester Homes took employees to Calleva’s ropes course for a day. Employees had to work together to problem solve and sometimes go beyond their comfort zones. One realtor:
“… talked for 45 minutes about what a great time she had out on the ropes course, and how she had done things that she never thought were possible.”
Don’t want to go all out with pushing people beyond their comfort zone? Just offer a high ropes course at your annual picnic for interested employees to try. That’s what The Carlyle Group did.
Share the Company Love Year-Round
Employee appreciation events should be just one element of a year-round recognition program.
In “Best Practices from Best Companies, Part 3 of 3: Employee Recognition,” Tiffany Barber, guest blogger for Great Place to Work® shows how one company, software company SAS, offers a comprehensive employee appreciation program.
SAS has an annual employee appreciation budget and ensures no one is left out – recognizing housekeepers (with a special quarterly award) to senior executives. The program includes:
CEO Award of Excellence: 25 peer-nominated employees and their significant others are flown to SAS world headquarters to attend an awards ceremony held in their honor.
Special Achievements: SAS publicly honors teams that go above and beyond. For example, when 58 employees garnered 30 new patents for SAS in one year (a new company record!), CEO Jim Goodnight honored them at a special breakfast, personally presenting each person with an inscribed plaque.
Peer Recognition: Employees can recognize their peers with “Starfish Shout Outs” by posting kudos to a Sharepoint site for all to see.
Give the People What they Want
Everyone values being recognized and thanked for his or her efforts and contributions. A sincere note of thanks is a memorable keepsake.
If you have a budget for recognition gifts, consider asking employees what they really want. You might be surprised. It could be time off, better life-balance support or an opportunity to do something fun with their family. It’s not going to be pens, water bottles or logo wear.
In her book, Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business: 24 Ways to Hang On to Your Most Valuable Talent, author Leigh Branham reports one company’s effort to stay in touch with employees.
According to Branham, Henley Healthcare polled its office staff to see how they’d prefer to be rewarded for their hard work. The results showed 42% preferred time off, 22% preferred clothing, and 20% preferred tickets to cultural events. The company used this information to create a meaningful recognition program for all employees.
We hope these suggestions will help you plan great workplace celebrations that fit your team, as part of your overall employee recognition program!
Download The Expert’s Guide to Celebrating Employees
To learn more HR professional tips on how to engage, recognize and build a happy and loyal workplace, download gThankYou’s FREE eBook, Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you to build an everyday culture of appreciation with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.
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