Employee Appreciation Day: How 2 Companies Make It Last
Employee Appreciation Day is always the first Friday of March. It’s the perfect time to pause, reflect and show gratitude to your staff.
Now, what about the other 364 days of the year?
Not every day’s a party, but a day shouldn’t go by when your team doesn’t feel appreciated in some way.
A strong, effective program for employee appreciation includes an Employee Appreciation Day celebration and lasts all year.
Why Employee Appreciation Deserves More Than One Day
The link between employee appreciation and its impact on engagement and productivity is well-documented.
More than 35 percent of employees in a recent poll consider lack of recognition the biggest block to their productivity, according to Forbes’ contributor Karen Higginbottom.
Appreciation isn’t just what employees say they want. Controlled studies show appreciation has a direct effect on employee behavior.
For example, a study conducted by researchers at the Wharton School showed that university employees who heard a message of gratitude were more motivated and productive. Higginbottom explains:
Researchers … divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group assigned to work on a different day received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”
Notably, when a recent survey asked employees to describe what makes them happy at work, they named pride, fairness, respect and feeling appreciated. These are the kind of feelings that take ongoing effort to develop — in other words, you can’t hand out holiday bonuses at Christmas and expect employees to still feel the glow of appreciation six months later without additional effort.
Ideally, your employee appreciation plan includes special celebrations as well as ongoing activities to engage and thank staff.
The good news is that employee appreciation done right can work well even on a budget. Sharing gratitude is often as simple as a heartfelt “Thank You.”
Read on for case studies in how two companies excel at making Employee Appreciation Day every day.
Mini-Case Study #1: Aveda Institute (Des Moines, IA)
“We treat them how we want to be treated, and it just works,” Jana Van Polen, co-owner of Aveda Institute Des Moines, tells the Des Moines Register. “We create this culture that allows employees to find their true worth and find potential they never knew they had.”
In addition to benefits like paid volunteer time and a biennial wellness-and-development summit, the Aveda Institute throws a formal staff-appreciation party every January.
The party is costly for the company, “but it’s such a morale booster that we can’t live without it,” co-owner (and Jana’s husband) Doug Van Polen says.
Significantly, the company reinforces the theme of employee appreciation so it “carries through the rest of the year,” too.
April King, Aveda’s director, attributes the company’s motivated culture to good communication and daily demonstrations of gratitude.
“Daily, we shout out what we love, and we respect each other enough to have open communication. When you can have tough subject conversations in a light manner and work together to accomplish something, it’s meaningful,” she says.
Mini-Case Study #2: Rivers Casino (Pittsburgh, PA)
Rivers Casino has been named one of Pittsburgh’s top workplaces two years in a row and was also voted best for making employees feel genuinely appreciated, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
How does the casino do it?
It’s no easy task: the casino employs 1,700 and is open round-the-clock. So, showing appreciation is “not always monetary,” general manager Craig Clark says. “It’s a work-life balance.”
One of the difficulties in managing the casino is being open 24/7. Employees have to work nights, holidays and weekends. So, extra recognition at the holidays is key.
“Recognizing the stress that comes with working during the holiday season, the casino offers employees traditional hams and turkeys to take home for their families,” the Post-Gazette’s Mike Danielewski reports.
It doesn’t stop there. Year-round appreciation efforts include:
- employee raffles
- rewards for attendance and good work
- a trained masseuse offering free massages
- tuition reimbursement
Listening is also a big part of the engagement strategy. Casino management encourages employee feedback through discussions and team-member surveys.
Take it from one of the employees, who noted in a survey response: “The leadership team stays involved with the team members and shows genuine interest in the engagement of everyone, keeping them informed and listening to their concerns.”
Ready to Start Recognizing Employees Year-Round?
Download your FREE 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Recognition Calendar, your guide to building a successful workplace culture of positivity and gratitude.
“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
The gThankYou 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar 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!
About gThankYou, LLC
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