Employee appreciation falls on a particular day on the calendar. But consider the implications if it became a key aspect of your employee engagement strategy. Employee engagement is on the radar at organizations around the globe. But behind the employee engagement curtain is a key ingredient – employee happiness. According to Gallup, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged in their work, defined as "emotionally invested and focused on creating value for their organizations every day." Gallup also notes that engaged employees are more likely to be 'thriving' – on a zero-to-10 scale, employees would rate their overall lives highly. When you appreciate and value your employees, they see value in the work they do and the impact they are making.
The average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime. So how do you ensure that those 90,000 hours engage, motivate and challenge your employees and ultimately contribute to their overall happiness at work.
Happy employees = thriving organizations
1. Spread the appreciation year-round
Employee engagement and appreciation is a year-round activity. Annual performance reviews should be the opposite of their namesake – try ongoing performance reviews! Annual reviews don't provide equal opportunity to assess the happiness and performance of your people, while ongoing performance reviews allow you to consistently monitor the pulse of your employees. In Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, active disengagement in the workplace accounts for a drain in productivity and profitability. Likewise, ongoing reviews present an ideal scenario to let your employees know you appreciate them by providing feedback, recognizing and rewarding performance and encouraging communication.
2. Communicate, communicate, then communicate again
You've heard it time and time again – employees don't leave organizations; they leave their managers. According to Gallup, managers account for at 70% of the variance in team engagement. Managers who take the opportunity to connect regularly with employees (and it doesn't have to be for long – even 15 minutes will do the trick!) get a better understanding of the needs and aspirations of their employees to ensure they are happy and engaged in the work they do.
3. Set goals – and celebrate when you achieve them!
It's the basics of business – you have to measure employee competencies, skills and outputs. These are the metrics that align your organizational outcomes with your employees. But these metrics are only as good as the employees performing them! If your employees are unhappy or disengaged, it will be evident in the results. Measure your milestones and celebrate them – it ensures you understand performance metrics but it's also an opportunity to celebrate with your employees!
4. Create an experience worth talking about
Your people are the most important asset to your organization. Great experiences at work (including perks like free snacks, work-from-home, flex vacation and open concept office space) are a simple way to show your employees you care and encourage them to work like you! Great experiences = happy employees. And happy employees help you cultivate a strong employer brand, retain your talent and open the door to new talent opportunities through referrals.
Employee Appreciation Day should be 365 days a year
If you don't already, try year-round recognition, ongoing performance conversations and exceptional work experiences to engage, motivate and challenge your employees! Happy employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees do great things. If you invest time and effort into understanding happiness at work, you'll see the results!