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5 Tips for Effectively Communicating Employee Appreciation

It can be tough being an executive. These higher ups are placed in positions of enormous responsibility, where the company's future - as well as people's livelihoods - are directly affected by the choices they make. Being an executive typically means working longer hours and spending a lot of time in meetings, many of which may not be as productive as they could.

Yes it is difficult being an executive, the C-level individual. That said, being a regular employee is arguably even harder. These executives in training make up the majority of the workplace. They come in every day, sometimes in inclement weather, and may also work long hours. Unlike the executives, the pay for this extra work isn't always there.

Employees make up more than the backbone of a company. They are often also its muscles, lungs, heart and any other organ analogy out there. Numerous research firms, including Harvard Business Review, have launched studies into employee psychology, always with the same result: Happy employees work harder.

However, executives may wonder when the best time to show employee appreciation is. Data indicates that certain times are more effective than others for showing employee appreciation. Follow these five tips to make sure that your workers feel like people in a place that cares rather than rotating cogs in the corporate machine.

1. The importance of an employee-positive mission statement

Mission statements can be overlooked. After all, everyone has them and some are not as strong as others. "We strive to promote excellence and be the best" sounds nice but doesn't really mean anything. However, the right mission statement can provide employees at all levels with a creed on which to model their decision-making.

An important clarification is that companies can have more than one mission statement. This is not to say that there should be a motto for every day of the week. The ideal is still a single, unified proclamation, however internal and external mission statements can work too.

External mission statements are the ones that people usually think of. They provide assurances of quality and timely delivery to any prospective clients. They also provide broad standards for employees to follow. In a sense, they can be seen as a short public rule book telling everyone that the company plays fair and works hard.

Internal mission statements are a lot rarer but arguably more important. These are in-company only, meaning that the client never sees them. Whereas external is for the buyer, internal should be for the employee. These statements should lay out the employee's path to success, as well as a promise from the company to reward hard work and treat its staff with dignity and respect at all times.

A good internal mission statement can make employees feel valued as soon as they walk in the door. Revisiting this corporate creed every year can ensure that it stays topical and relevant to all workers. If desired, executives can even open feedback for edits. Employees will appreciate this attempt at open communication.

2. How to create effective motivational posters and art for the office

Motivational posters and other art should be seen as extensions of the mission statement. Remember that quality matters here. A generic cat with the words "just keep trying" isn't likely to motivate anyone apart from cat lovers.

For effective in-office signage, executives need to be able to read the mood of their office. For example, if many people in the office like rock music then using images of famous musicians like Aerosmith or ACDC are likely to promote a positive atmosphere. If the office hates rock music, then its images are going to form a negative association.

Find out what motivates employees before committing funds to posters and other art. It is a more time-consuming process but also one much more likely to see a significant impact on employee morale.

3. Creating opportunities year round to communicate appreciation

Every company has its "push" period. That time of the year when the workload increases dramatically and it is understood that projects must be done or there will be severe consequences. These times are challenging for everyone involved. Dedicated employees will give up sleep and family time to make sure that these pushes are successful.

However, this can take a toll - and one that a pay raise cannot necessarily fix on its own. Employee burnout is a real and serious problem. Burnout occurs when, according to Kissmetrics data, exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency all mix together to create a breaking point.

Once a company has a reputation for burning out workers, it is difficult to lose it. These issues are currently plaguing industries like health care and video games but this problem can happen anywhere. No one wants to work at a company that takes and takes without giving enough back to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even the most passionate employee will eventually leave - probably right before posting a negative review on Glassdoor.

To avoid this problem, companies need to institute "passion protection" initiatives. A passion protection program will work to balance periods of push with reward. After a significantly long product has been completed, it is an excellent time for the employer to show appreciation.

This feedback can come in the form of company-wide recognition. This can take many forms. When I Work stressed that different types of employee appraisal were better suited for different events. While a simple ‘thank you’ can surprise a tired worker at the end of a week, it is better to go a bit more in-depth once a particularly challenging project has been resolved.

An acknowledging email is likewise an often appreciated gesture, but optimally used to celebrate the completion of small or medium-sized tasks. When employees perform exceptionally well, take the time to recognize them - in person - during a company meeting.

This personal touch will help enforce the genuineness of the gesture and show the entire company just how valued these recent efforts have been. If honoring a team of workers, employers should take the time to name every individual - thus ensuring that no one feels undervalued.

These small tokens can go a long way to reinvigorating a worker’s sense of pride. It will help everyone breath in between crunch periods and help keep the possibility of a burnout at bay.

4. Years of Service Awards

Employees don’t tend to stay at the same company for a long time anymore and part of that is the believe that the employer doesn’t care about longevity. A new mental mode exists throughout the various industries of the U.S., one that is opportunistic and anxious

Some workers simply want to maximize every dollar they can make. These will always be the most likely to leave. However, many people are happy with the stability that a stable job brings in their lives and only relocate because they view it as necessity.

Rewarding years of service can help fight the idea that bosses don’t care about loyalty. These awards can be a lot more than a generic trophy and a coupon to a local restaurant. They represent a time to celebrate the individual’s efforts toward the whole.

When giving an award for years of service, plan it out. Workers will be able to tell if the idea was only haphazardly thrown together at the last minute. Take the time to tailor the award and its presentation to the employee’s interest. Giving a 10-year service award doesn’t feel as heartfelt if it is done at a sushi restaurant - but its recipient gags at the mere sight of raw fish.

Customize everything, from the plaque on the trophy to the accompanying gift and venue. Knowing what an employee likes can go a long way toward making him or her feel appreciated.

5. Reward results

Comedian Chris Rock once said that being paid minimum wage was like the boss stating "Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law."

This statement reflects the problem with paying employees the bare minimum while demanding or expecting maximum effort. There is no incentive given for the employee to try hard. After all, every job must be paid at least the minimum wage.

However, not all companies can afford raises, particularly if budgets are tight. While salary may be the breaking point for a few individuals, others are happy to trade more money for feeling like an actual human being at the office.

To this end, the occasional corporate reward or employee gift will make a noticeable difference. This can vary greatly depending on available budget and other corporate resources. However, as long as the reward isn’t winning a chance to come in on Saturday, most employees should be pleased. The age-old saying ‘it’s the thought that counts’ holds true in this scenario.

Whether it is increased time off, the ability to work from home or a physical reward for consistent and healthy attendance, there is never a wrong time to bestow a small trinket of employee appreciation.

These changes may sound scary and massive but they all stem from one mindset: Treating employees as people beyond job-holders. The vast majority of people want to work and feel useful - to accomplish things that they can be proud of. A successful workplace empowers this mentality while nurturing every one of its people, not just those at the top.

Customer Favorite Employee Gifts

Updated Monday 03-19-2018
Lead the Way Stone Image Paperweight
Rating: | Reviewer: Hilary the Glue of Austin, TX

Lead the Way Stone Image Paperweight

Just Right
We used these as sales prizes for top performers. We wanted something different than the standard trophies. This will be a nice display for our people.

Walk The Talk Penguins Framed Desktop Print
Rating: | Reviewer: The Teacher of Northern Michigan

Walk The Talk Penguins Framed Desktop Print

Great graduation gift
Great gift for graduates. Something to inspire them to stay focused on their futures.

Attitude Drop Desk Clock
Rating: | Reviewer: Amy of Harrisburg, PA

Attitude Drop Desk Clock

Attitude didn't "Drop" it shot up!
The staff was excellent at getting this to us in time for our Christmas party and the employee who received it (and others who didn't) all loved it!

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