The HR Specialist

12 low-cost employee-appreciation strategies that work

Money is great. Benefits are nice. But there’s one key thing that keeps good employees from walking away: knowing that management appreciates them and their work.

Employers do that in lots of ways: employee-of-the-month awards, holiday parties, years-of-service gifts, cash bonuses and even birthday cards.

Get clever with your employee-appreciation efforts. Here are 12 low-cost ways—suggested by our readers—that your organization can show gratitude to your employees all year.

1. Embarrassment committees. To celebrate a person’s annual anniversary on the job, form an “embarrassment committee” to make a ruckus as colleagues deliver a cookie bouquet and gift card.

2. Appreciation week. During one special week, serve breakfast one day, lunch on another and a make-your-own-sundae party on a third.

3. Children’s art contest. A couple of times a year, exhibit around the building the artwork that employees’ kids have created.

4. Door prizes for staff meetings. To add some fun and encourage attendance, hold a drawing for a small door prize before all-staff meetings.

5. “You’ve been caught” program. Encourage managers and employees to notify HR when they “catch” a colleague in the act of going beyond the call of duty. At monthly staff meetings, introduce all nominated employees, and mention what the person did. Choose one winner at random for a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

6. Baby blankets. Send baby blankets to every employee who welcomes home a new child.

7. Safety-record lunches. Host congratulatory lunches when employees meet safety goals and department milestones.

8. Newsletter features. Include a monthly “Employee Spotlight” column in the organization’s newsletter. The newsletter also can include comments from customers who have praised an employee’s work.

9. Mini-massage. Bring in a massage therapist every now and then to give complimentary five- to 10-minute shoulder massages.

10. Birthday shirts. Have your CEO sign a birthday card for each employee and send it to the worker along with a company logo shirt on his or her special day.

11. Perks for extra work. Surprise employees who have worked long hours to finish a project with a small cash bonus or a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast.

12. Feedback from supervisors. This one might be the best. Encourage management to orally recognize employees on an ongoing basis.


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