Do something nice for Employee Appreciation Day

05 May 2016

ON on then, have a guess what March 4 2016 is. No idea? It's actually Employee Appreciation Day. Now before I immediately get hounded by proponents of the two very polarised views on this (the age old ‘you should appreciate your employees every day of the year' versus ‘they should just be thankful they have a job') let's take a quick time out and think about this.

First off, I believe that in an era where companies throw slogans around claiming that their employees are ‘core assets of our business' or ‘at the heart of our competitive advantage' (and in all honesty these statements should really hold true for any good organisation expecting to move onwards and upwards) then they should ensure staff are treated accordingly. If you say you value your employees, then show them that you value them. Don't be a hypocrite.

So what should or could we be doing? Well it's a given these days that most progressive companies offer things like health care, pensions, cycle to work schemes and all sorts of enticing employee benefits. If they don't then they simply shouldn't expect to attract and retain good, never mind great, employees.

But let's face it; these are now really just a baseline, something expected as standard for most staff. What about the little extras? Think about it. We (correctly) cherish our significant others all year long but don't we also do something special on their birthdays, on Valentine's Day or on our anniversaries? The little something that says we don't take them for granted?

It doesn't have to cost much to show employees that you appreciate them and we should also remember that money is not really personal. Cash bonuses are often spent on the most mundane of things like paying bills. They are often soon forgotten. Try to think about other little things that are more personal or that can simply be enjoyed for what they are at the time.

Do you take note of who works late on projects or is always away in another country and maybe send them and their partner out for dinner (remember it's not just the employee who suffers; someone has to be at home holding the fort)?

Think about the environment you work in. Could you install some cool items in the breakout area for people to play with? Can you upgrade the coffee, tea and biscuits? Could you get a barista to come in for the day and make really nice hot drinks?

Consider what you can do using external companies; you could bring in guest speakers on healthy eating, motivation or even dress sense and style. You can even leverage your internal talent. There is one company I know of who had an amateur magician working there and the impromptu Friday evening shows were (metaphorically) sold out.

And here's a thought: if you are really struggling for ideas, why not provide your employees with a voice and then listen to what they say. Ask them what they value and then hear what they come back with. You can even caveat this by saying you want to keep things reasonable or low cost. Employees will understand and you will be surprised how inventive they can be.

In terms of employee engagement and motivation a little can go a long way, so think about employee appreciation day. Sometimes doesn't it just make sense to do something nice?

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