1. Remember that any day (or multiple days) can be Staff Appreciation Day
Although Staff Appreciation Day is officially the last Wednesday in April, there is no rule that says you must do your appreciation event on this day, as well as only once per year. In fact, some companies choose to do multiple staff appreciation events throughout the year. The most important thing is to recognize your employees for their efforts. This is appropriate on any day of the year!
2. Make sure all levels of management are on board
Avoid miscommunication by including all levels of management. Make sure that everyone understands the purpose of the event and its importance. Inform management of the positive effects that feeling appreciated has on employee morale, satisfaction, and ultimately retention. Be certain they understand that this event is for all employees and that all employees should feel free to attend.
3. Pick a day that works for the maximum number of employees
If half of your employees cannot attend the event because of scheduling conflicts, then you have defeated your purpose. Pick a day that works for most employees to ensure that few, if any, of your employees are left out. Ask employees and managers for times of the year that tend to be quieter than others. Taking the time to determine when maximum participation is possible reinforces the message that you appreciate your employees and that you recognize the value of their time.
4. Set a budget
Having a budget will allow you to plan your event accordingly. A budget will provide you with a guide as you come up with ideas on what to do and how to do it. Starting small is fine. In fact, it’s better to start small than do nothing at all.
5. Set objectives
Determine what you’d like to accomplish during the event. “Staff appreciation” can mean different things to different people. Perhaps you’d like to give your employees a chance to relax and casually interact, or perhaps you’d like to give awards for performance. Knowing what you have in mind before you start planning will make the process easier later.
6. Ask for suggestions
With your budget and objectives outlined, reach out to a group of employees and ask them what they want to do. While having a catered lunch in the office might sound perfect to you, your employees might have something else in mind. Employees can provide important feedback as you plan the event and might provide you with ideas you had not yet considered. Reaching out to your employees also reinforces the message that this event is about them and for them.
7. Be creative
Think of ways to say “I appreciate you” that aren’t expected. If you have a limited budget, doing a potluck might be an option. Handing out awards for team work, creativity under pressure, or going above and beyond is another inexpensive way to say thank you.
For those with more robust budgets, if you decide to give a gift to your employees, remember that when providing a gift it should be something useful or it’s likely to be put in a desk somewhere and forgotten. A paperweight says, “I didn’t know what to get you.”
8. Start planning
Make sure you lay out a time-frame for getting the necessary tasks done. Depending on how large your staff is, you may need plan the event several weeks in advance. Some basic areas to consider are: location, time, and refreshments. As the date of the event moves closer, get all managers involved. Watching a team of managers develop an event in honor of the staff sends a powerful message of appreciation. Refrain from using staff to assist if at all possible. If you must include staff in this process, be sure that no one feels obligated to help.
9. Make it happen
Make sure that you follow through with completing the event. Too often there is talk of an event, but no event happens because of “unexpected” deadlines and circumstances. This can be extremely demoralizing for employees. Knowing your schedule and important work-related deadlines ahead of time will go a long way towards ensuring the event occurs and is a success.
10. Be genuine and be present
Employees know when you mean it – and when you don’t. If the event is designed to show your appreciation for your employees, it is important that you are fully engaged. Turn off blackberries, leave work conversations at the door, and invite your employees to enjoy their event.
10. Be fair, consistent, and thorough in recognition.
Each person who makes the same or similar contribution should have an equal likelihood of receiving recognition for their efforts. Recognizing only the highest performer will dissatisfy all other contributors, especially if the criterion for recognition is subjectively assessed. Be as specific as possible in telling the individual why exactly he/she is receiving recognition to reinforce what you would like the employee to continue to do more of. Don’t forget that sometimes great work is done behind the scenes.
Nothing says “I appreciate you” more than this!
* Heathfield S. (2011). “The Power of Positive Employee Recognition”.