5 great ways to show employee appreciation

Owning a small business – or really a business of any size – is often a balancing act of keeping employees motivated and efficient while making sure they’re enjoying their work and the business overall. In my experience, part of keeping employees happy and motivated is showing them appreciation. Most employees feel more excited to work harder if their boss shows in some way that they recognize and value the effort. If you’re looking for methods to boost morale, here are five ways you can show employee appreciation in your company:

1. Say ‘thank you’
It can’t be said enough: Simply showing sincere gratitude is one of the best ways to make employees feel appreciated and motivate them to keep up the good work. After all, if an employee feels like no one has noticed the extra effort and long hours they put in, they won’t be likely to do it again. Send individuals who are going above and beyond what’s expected of them hand-written and personal thank you cards. Detail exactly what you’re thanking them for and assure them their work isn’t going unnoticed.

2. Listen
If your employees feel they’re able to come to you to air concerns, whether it’s about their work or any home issues that could affect their work, it will make them feel respected and heard. Have an open-door policy, or simply designate an hour a day for employees to speak with you one-on-one. When they do need to talk about something, make sure you’re taking the time to listen and offer constructive advice or sympathy.

3. Have dedicated appreciation time
Whether you throw an employee appreciation party, treat everyone to drinks at happy hour or order lunch for the whole office, designate a specific time or event for acknowledging employees. If you do host a lunch or party in the office, make sure everyone knows they aren’t expected to work during this time. Having an hour or two to relax at work is a great way for employees to feel respected.

4. Offer perks
Employers often offer perks to acknowledge their employees’ hard work. Things like bonuses, discounted memberships (say, to a nearby gym), a half-day one Friday a month or even small gifts can all show appreciation. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to offer them to the whole office or as rewards for hard work or accomplishments. If you already have a bonus structure in place, make the reward a little more personal by sending individualized business thank you cards to everyone who’s earned one. That way, the bonus will feel like more of an achievement.

5. Create the right environment
You’re in charge of the office environment, and a boring or no-fun-allowed space won’t make employees feel good. Though it may seem backward, allowing employees to have a little fun with one another and take short breaks from work can actually increase their efficiency overall. Plus, employees will feel enjoy working for a company that allows for recreation time or short breaks, because they’ll know management is confident they’ll be able to get their work done anyway.