Employee Appreciation Day is always the first Friday in March. Created in 1995 by a Recognition Professionals International (RPI) board member and his publishing company, the day is intended for employers in all industries to focus on employee recognition.
If your company has a coordinated, strategic recognition program, now’s the time to roll out the red carpet! If your company is just getting started on a recognition program, or renewing its commitment to one, Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect time to give your efforts an official kick-off.
Why recognition, and not bonuses or other perks?
According to RPI, cash bonuses are quickly spent on bills and perks are often forgotten. Recognition is different because it’s personalized to the recipient and creates a memory. These memories build higher performance as employees feel valued and understand clearly how important their work is to company goals.
But employee appreciation is important everyday! That’s right, but just like Mother’s Day and other similar holidays, it’s a great opportunity to slow down, really think why someone’s important to you and plan something special to celebrate them.
This Employee Appreciation Day, be sure you’re remembering everybody in your employee list — especially the ones that may slip through the cracks because they work different hours or behind the scenes.
Read on for the five types of employees who are often forgotten but deserve your Employee Appreciation Day, too!
5 Employee Groups Not to Forget on Employee Appreciation Day
1. Third shift or after-hours workers
These are the people who come in after the HR team and other office 9-to-5ers have gone home — your night receptionist, third-shift retail clerks, bakers, mailroom sorters, janitors and cleaning staff, or factory workers who keep the plant operational 24/7.
Night workers typically have little contact with senior managers, which can make an already challenging shift difficult.
“The night shift is physically and psychologically taxing, so acknowledging this sacrifice can greatly aid retention,” writes Alex Saez for AZCentral’s article, “Strategies for Keeping a Night Shift Staff.” SHRM recommends creating a points-based incentive program for night workers that makes it easy for managers to reward good work on the spot — so employees have direction and feel appreciated even when managers aren’t around. Companies using such systems have seen productivity go up by 25 to 45 percent.
For Employee Appreciation Day, set aside time for managers to give in-person thanks to your night staff, even if it means staying later or coming back in the evening. Regular face-to-face contact is crucial to making employees feel valued.
2. Consultants, freelancers and part-timers
“Unfortunately, few outsourced staff members get the same treatment” as regular employees, according to Entrepreneur contributor Rick Martinez. “As a former contract worker myself, I can attest to the value of a Thank You. A small show of appreciation makes more difference than you realize.”
Part-time or contract workers not only have limited contact with management, they also have limited contact with their coworkers at the company. This disconnect can eat away at their sense of belonging or commitment to company goals, so invite them to any Employee Appreciation Day events or activities you have planned, and be sure they have good opportunities to interact and socialize with the entire staff.
3. Remote workers
The challenge of “isolation and separation” is compounded with a distributed workforce, according to our Q&A with HR expert Kevin Sheridan, author of “Building a Magnetic Culture” and “The Virtual Manager.”
Technology is a blessing when it comes to recognizing these remote workers who can’t physically visit the home office. Sheridan recommends regular check-ins via video conference or Skype so everyone can see each other. Body language, like smiling and nodding, can convey gratitude just as much as saying “Thank You.”
Sheridan also recommends using Skype or video chat to include remote workers in employee celebrations.”The employee who’s working in, say, Peoria, Illinois, out of their basement, hears that corporate is celebrating a new client success and having a pizza party. Rather than just assume, ‘Oh well, they’re in Peoria, they can’t join us at the pizza party,’ why not send them a coupon so that they can have a slice of pizza at the very same time, and call in and celebrate the win as well,” he says.
4. Interns and temps
Your interns and temporary staff are potential future full-time employees, so treat them as such. Include them in your Employee Appreciation Day celebration as you would anyone else.
Younger workers especially — the up-and-coming Generation Z — expect and appreciate recognition and specific guidance from their supervisors. If they’re getting it right from the beginning, as interns or temps, it sends a strong message that your company takes employee recognition seriously.
Yes, supervisors need recognition, too! If they’re not getting it, how will they know how to give it?
Many experts now recommend “recognition training” for supervisors. As Globoforce’s Derek Irvine puts it, “Employee recognition is not a nice-to-have soft-skill.”
A supervisor who doesn’t feel valued by senior management can poison an entire team with his or her bad attitude. Don’t let that happen! Part of recognition training is by example: show your supervisors the appreciation you want them to show their reports.
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