Employee Recognition

The Power Of Authentic Appreciation [Webinar recap]

People don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. And at the end of the day, we all just want our hard work to be both seen and valued. So as an HR leader, it's crucial to inspire and direct your leadership team around how to create employee appreciation moments that authentically support your culture, as well as the personalized needs of your workers. That’s why we partnered with our friends at 15Five to host a webinar about the power of authentic employee appreciation. Our panelists included:

  • Kevin Yip, Co-Founder and COO at Blueboard
  • Shane Metcalf, Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer at 15Five
  • Susan Fierro, Vice President of People and Culture at Evisions
  • Trace Downey, Compliance and People Ops at Jane

Check out the full video and recap below. For more great HR webinars, stay in touch via our Resources page.

There are four main pillars that make appreciation truly authentic and valuable.

We share each below along with tips from our panelists on how to achieve each of these pillars:

1. Personalized Employee Appreciation

Make sure your recognition is personalized to the person receiving it. Otherwise, you risk the recipient feeling disappointed or even embarrassed by your well-intended act of authentic employee appreciation. For instance, if an employee doesn’t enjoy public praise, giving them a shoutout at an all-hands meeting may not be the best idea. Here are a few additional tips from our panelists to make your appreciation moments more personalized:

  • Ask, don’t assume. The simplest way to know what your employees want? Ask. Whether that’s during weekly 1:1s or through a survey, provide an opportunity for employees to share how they want to be recognized for their hard work and as a manager, begin to understand their language of appreciation. You can then program your recognition moments around their preferred style. Our panelist Susan offered to share some of her favorite ways for managers to guide authentic employee appreciation moments and conversations, we’ve pasted these at the bottom of the article for you to steal with pride.
  • Follow through. Simply asking employees for their appreciation preference isn’t enough. You have to check in with your employees regularly to make sure they feel like they’ve been appreciated for their hard work. Again, you can use surveys or in-person conversations for this. If your employees indicate they aren’t receiving the recognition they deserve, you can have follow-up conversations with your managers to better understand why.

2. Real-Time Acts of Appreciation

70% of individual contributors state they are recognized only once per year (or worse, not at all). This clearly indicates that employees aren’t receiving appreciation frequently enough. Instead of saving up all your kudos for a performance review six months later, which dilutes the impact of the appreciation, give it to employees in real-time. A few additional ideas to consider that can help you give recognition live.

  • Take advantage of technology. Technology, such as Slack, can be used to provide live recognition moments - which is especially useful for companies with remote workforces. For example, at Blueboard, we have a #loveletters Slack channel where our Concierge Team can share the amazing photos and feedback from our reward recipients they’ve caringly served. It’s a great way to create a space for our employees to celebrate their hard work, in a way that feels authentic, instead of boastful.
  • Make it a habit. Humans rely on habits to take action. It’s important to regularly prompt employees and managers to give appreciation. Whether that’s creating reminders within your communication channels or ending every meeting with a ritual of appreciation, provide consistent nudges to help build the habit and from there, make the appreciation moments feel more natural
  • Lead by example. The positive actions that company leaders take ultimately ripple throughout the organization. So make sure your managers and C-suite are modeling real-time appreciation, whether that’s by giving employees a phone call or sending them a positive message for their work. It’s all about creating a culture where everyone - from the newest hire to the CEO - is encouraged to openly share their appreciation for others.

3. Specific Work Recognition

Saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t cut it when giving authentic appreciation. You have to be specific about what the employee did to deserve the praise. This makes the recognition feel much more meaningful and also helps employees understand what’s expected of them in the future. Here are additional tips from our panelists on how to share appreciation that’s specific:  

  • Be clear. When it comes to appreciation, the clearer you are, the better. Instead of saying a passive and vague ‘thank you,’ be transparent about exactly what the employee did that’s deserving of appreciation. And don’t only highlight the action but also share the impact that this behavior had on your team, organization, or company goals.
  • Mark the action. In addition to being specific, make sure to pair it with our previous pillar of providing feedback in real-time. This helps you easily mark the behavior, action, or milestone that you want to see again in your employees.

4. Growth-Oriented Appreciation

One of the concepts that Kim Scott discusses in her book Radical Candor is how every opportunity for feedback or recognition is also an opportunity to inspire someone to improve even more the next time. We couldn’t agree more! Here are some recommendations from our speakers on how to provide growth-oriented employee appreciation:

  • Promote a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck’s research demonstrates the importance of encouraging a growth mindset, which is the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed. When you tell an employee “you’re so smart” or “you’re a rockstar,” you reinforce a fixed mindset because you’re acknowledging innate characteristics. Instead, recognize their effort and hard work since those aren’t fixed traits and can be continuously improved.
  • Create a culture of seeking feedback. It can be really difficult for people to hear appreciation and constructive feedback at the same time. So it may help to build in regular feedback conversations. For instance, after every presentation, ask the presenter “what do you think went well?” And “what do you think could have been improved?” This provides a great opportunity for you to share positive feedback and appreciation for what they excelled at as well as begin to create a culture of safety to share candid and constructive feedback. Making this a regular occurrence will create an environment where people actively seek out feedback and see it as a gift vs. a punishment.

We hope you find these tips helpful when it comes to understanding how to share authentic employeeappreciation. If you’re looking for personalized and meaningful employee recognition ideas, we’d love for you to browse some of our experiential employee rewards here at Blueboard. To learn more about Blueboard and get in touch with our team, simply reach out via the Request Demo button above ^^.

Stay tuned for more valuable webinars and upcoming events here on our Resources page- we can’t wait to see you again online!

29 Employee Appreciation Tips from Susan Fierro

“The deepest principal in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” William James

This quote really hit home to me, so much so that I am going to print it and hang it in my office as a daily reminder. Since recognition and employee appreciation are so important in maintaining happy and productive workforce, I wanted to share with you some easy and low-cost employee appreciation tips to show your team that they are truly valued and appreciated:

  1. Express an interest in an employee’s career development goals.
  2. Post a large “celebration calendar” in your work area. Tack on notes of recognition to specific dates.
  3. Design and give magnets with appropriate messages.
  4. Create and string a banner across the work area.
  5. Give a deserving employee a mug filled with treats.
  6. Give a framed poem (poster or card) as a thank you.
  7. Greet employees by name.
  8. Practice positive nonverbal behaviors that demonstrate appreciation.
  9. Support “flex-friendly” schedules.
  10. Encourage employees to identify specific areas of interest in job-related skills. Then arrange for them to spend a day with an in-house “expert” to learn more about the topic.
  11. Encourage employees to participate in community volunteer efforts.
  12. Share verbal accolades – forward positive voice mail messages.
  13. Actively listen to co-workers, especially when discussing their accomplishments and contributions.
  14. Use 3x5 cards to write “You’re special because...” statements. People can collect the cards and refer to them when things aren’t going perfectly.
  15. Give Mr. Goodbar (candy bar) Awards.
  16. Send them on a Blueboard award, and afterward, have them share what was most memorable with the team.
  17. Recognize employee’s personal needs and challenges.
  18. Give an employee a blue ribbon for achievement.
  19. Write a letter of praise recognizing specific contributions and accomplishments. Send a copy to senior management and the employee’s personnel file.
  20. When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible (Face-to-face is best, e-mail or voice mail are good in an pinch).
  21. Call an employee to your office to thank them (don’t discuss any other issue).
  22. Give a personalized coffee cup.
  23. Ask your boss to attend a meeting with your employees during which you thank individuals and groups for their specific contributions.
  24. Post a thank you note on an employee’s door/cubicle.
  25. Find out the person’s hobby and buy an appropriate gift.
  26. Make a thank-you card by hand.
  27. Cover the person’s desk with balloons.
  28. Make and deliver a fruit basket.
  29. Inscribe a favorite book as a gift.

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