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Starting 2010 right - employee appreciation strategies

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During this economic downturn many companies are unable to dole out cash bonuses or provide fancy gifts as they have in past years. 

A useful strategy to keep employees engaged and committed to the company - absent cash or physical gifts - is to hold an "all hands" meeting outlining the state of the company. In this meeting, leadership should reiterate the company's vision statement and priorities, explain how each employee can help turn the company around and institute a variable-ratio schedule to reinforce certain behaviour. 

According to an article in the Canadian HR Reporter entitled "Performance-based rewards, line-of-sight foster ownership behaviour in staff," when employees understand and see the link between their daily work and their impact on the bottom line they are motivated to change their behaviour. The article goes on to state that 91% of employees said they understood how to make a difference in their company's business results reported being motivated to help the company succeed.

That said, it is important to share with your staff the company's  vision, explain the "big picture," and  let them know how their role fits in facilitating the company’s success. In the case of the operating staff, once specific goals or behaviour is reached, offering the employee a choice of flexible hours, telecommuting, or reduced work week (variable-ratio schedule) for a given period is a great way to show appreciation. By keeping the objective to create a sense of loyalty between the company and the employee in focus, leadership is more likely to retain talent who is willing to work through bad times with the hopes of receiving greater benefits when the company stabilizes.

Another appreciation strategy is to spotlight in a company newsletter or institute a recognition program that points to departments who have achieved specific goals or received external praise for service performed. In many instances when an individual sees his/her name or department in highlights it is tantamount to receiving a cash benefit.  This strategy can also elicit friendly competition, which may bring out creative, innovative ideas that may be instrumental in turning the company around.

A final and powerful strategy is simply saying “thank you.” Many times we executives, are so caught up in the pace and latest fire drill that we fail to properly thank our staff for their efforts in helping our respective departments run at its optimum.

Research shows employees perform better when they feel appreciated and when they understand that they are important to the company’s success. You can instill this top-down behaviour in your department by showing your appreciation for your constituents.

©2010 Penny M. Stein
Readers and media may contact Ms. Stein via e-mail.

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