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6 Practices That Make Every Day Feel Like Employee Appreciation Day

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Heidi Collins

Every year on the first Friday of March, companies across the world have a chance to recognize the hard work of their people by celebrating Employee Appreciation Day. But just like so many important holidays, it shouldn’t be celebrated just once a year.

As VP of People Ops at 15Five, I’ve seen how implementing ongoing practices can make a big difference when it comes to creating a psychologically safe culture of engaged employees. Whether you’re a CEO, an HR leader, or a new manager, here are six useful practices you can put in place today that will help show just how much you appreciate your people this Employee Appreciation Day, and beyond.

1. Ask meaningful questions

Throughout the course of a workday, things can become chaotic quickly, especially in a startup environment. Multiple projects may be happening simultaneously, deadlines are urgent, and bandwidth could be strapped, but during your daily interactions, when is the last time you took the time to ask a coworker how they were doing? Asking questions like this may seem like small talk, but in reality, they can help acknowledge a person in meaningful ways. 

When we become bogged down by everyday stressors it becomes easier to treat your conversations as transactional, but by bringing back those moments of care and genuine curiosity, you’ll begin deepening relationships with those around you.

2. Say “thank you, and…”

While this practice may seem a bit on the nose for Employee Appreciation Day, it’s surprising how often this one gets overlooked, especially for those in more tedious roles and whose efforts may go under the radar. Thanking someone for their hard work has immediate benefits, but I’d like to encourage you to take it a step further and share how their work impacted you.

Appreciating someone without this extra step runs the risk of sounding insincere. Sharing genuine gratitude with your employees can relieve significant amounts of stress and will help them see how they are contributing to the company’s purpose.

3. Consistently check in

One reason I love 15Five’s solution is that it creates the space for managers to continually appreciate their employees. Our Weekly Check-In feature gives employees a chance to share how they felt, their priorities, wins, and challenges at the end of every week. When managers review this before their 1-on-1s they don’t have to spend the whole time finding out what’s going on, they can step into the check-in already knowing what challenges need to be discussed.

This regular practice of checking in on your employees and dedicating your time and energy to keeping consistent 1-on-1s helps build stronger relationships and deeper trust.

4. Learn your employees’ strengths

When employees are gaining mastery in specific skills and are given the space to perform at their peak, they are more intrinsically motivated to do their best work. Support your employee’s growth by identifying their unique strengths and helping to seek opportunities that allow them to build on those attributes. Doing this will help boost the confidence of your direct reports and provide the right guidance to help them navigate through their career path.

5. Create an extraordinary onboarding experience

Often, when a person steps into a new role, HR ensures they receive proper training to do their job effectively, ramp-up quickly, and start contributing. While this is important for obvious reasons, the first week of an employee’s experience can influence their success at the company, and if done well, can improve retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent. Creating a memorable onboarding experience with a warm welcome is a great way to show employee appreciation and can set the tone for their entire time with the company.

At 15Five, one way we make our employee’s onboarding experience more human-centric is by introducing them to the whole company during our weekly all-hands meetings and asking them a series of questions. This gives the entire company an opportunity not only to learn about their role but to get to know them on a more personal level.

6. Encourage inclusivity

Creating a diverse workplace has myriad benefits including boosted creativity, more innovative thinking, and a broadened talent pool. But diversity without inclusion is useless. As we look back on Black History Month and approach International Women’s Day, we’re reminded that inclusivity isn’t simply a nice to have, but a basic human need that if left unmet will hinder a person’s ability to become their whole, best self.

Achieving inclusivity is simple when you have a homogenous group of people, but it can be far more difficult to achieve a feeling of belonging with people from a lot of different backgrounds and walks of life. To help employees participate actively and wholeheartedly (it cannot be forced), encourage people to connect on things that have nothing to do with business. 

One of my favorite ways to do this is through sharing your Intentional Energetic Presence, or IEP. This can be easily adapted in daily practices, like at the beginning of meetings, and the goal is to be open and honest about how present you are at that moment. You can share your IEP level using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing the lowest energy level and disengagement, and 10 being the highest, most present energy level. We also like to pair this with check-ins by asking a follow-up question such as, “what’s your stress level today?” or something more thought-provoking like, “describe your mood in one word.”

Through activities like these, you can learn a lot about what causes your coworkers’ stress, what brings them joy, and what they value. It’s also a powerful way to develop relationships with unlikely people, and show employee appreciation on a daily basis.

The truth is, we spend eight to 10 hours a day at work, and for a lot of us, that’s more than we spend with our own loved ones. We should aim to fill our workdays with meaningful practices that facilitate enriching relationships and conversations. By helping your employees experience an environment that is healing and growth-focused all year round, you’ll reap the benefits of a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce.

Heidi Collins

Heidi Collins is VP of People Ops at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360°reviews. Heidi is drawn to human-centric workplaces and brings 20 years of experience spanning over two countries.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash