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12 Real-Life Employee Appreciation Strategies That Work

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Issue: March 10 is Employee Appreciation Day, but you can show your gratitude throughout the year.

Benefit: Studies show that employees who feel valued are more likely to stay, which helps your organization ... and makes your job easier.

Action: Choose your favorite ideas from among these real-life suggestions.

Money is great. Benefits are nice. But one key thing that keeps good employees from walking away is when management notices and 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.

Recently, participants in our online HR Specialist Weekly offered up their stories of successful employee appreciation efforts. Here are some of the best:

1. Embarrassment committees. To celebrate a person's annual anniversary on the job, an "embarrassment committee" claps and makes a ruckus as they deliver a cookie bouquet and gift card.

2. Appreciation week. During a week each April, the company provides breakfast one day, lunch on another and a make-your-own-sundaes party on another.

3. Kid's art contest. A couple times a year, exhibitions of artwork created by employees' children are displayed and award certificates are handed out.

4. Door prizes for staff meetings. To add some fun and encourage attendance, drawings for a small door prize are held before all full staff meetings.

5. "You've been caught" program. If employees are "caught" doing a good deed or going above the call of duty, employees and managers are encouraged to notify HR. At monthly staff meetings, all nominated employees are introduced, including what the person did. One winner is chosen at random for a gift certificate to a local store. The gifts can go to the "caught" person or the submitter (switch each month), so it encourages participation.

6. Baby blankets. The employer sends baby blankets to employees with a new birth.

7. Safety-record lunches. The company hosts congratulatory lunches when employees meet safety goals and department milestones.

8. Newsletter feature. The company newsletter includes an "Employee Spotlight" column each month that features did-you-know facts about an employee. The newsletter also includes a good customer comment from the previous month that highlights an employee's good work.

9. Mini-massage. The employer occasionally brings in a masseuse to give complimentary five-to-10 minute shoulder massages.

10. Birthday shirts. The owner of a 550-employee company signs a birthday card to each employee and sends them a shirt with the company logo.

11. Perks for extra works. The owner of a small company occasionally surprises employees who have been working long hours to finish a project with a monetary bonus, restaurant gift certificate or a weekend at a bed and breakfast.

12. Finally, feedback from supervisors. "Most important, however, is to encourage management to orally recognize employees on an ongoing basis," said Cindy Knight, an HR pro in Rochelle, Ill.

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