I have to admit up front that I am not a fan of made up, fake holidays. I always figured if anyone in my life needed to use a made-up reason to say they love me (Valentines Day) or appreciate me (Mother’s Day), then they really don’t know me at all. I would much rather have someone tell me they love or appreciate me on a random Tuesday then sending me a dozen roses that cost $150 on one of those days. As an aside, this cynicism likely comes from working at a florist in my teenage years and seeing men forget their loved one until the last minute, then rush in to buy said $150 roses just to stay out of trouble.
Well, we are on the eve of yet another made up holiday…..Employee Appreciation Day. It’s coming to an office near you on March 6th. Don’t get me wrong, I am a BIG supporter of telling your team and all your employees how much you appreciate them. I am a fan of hand written notes, emails, phone calls, taking them out to lunch and more. What I am not a fan of is the leader who never tells their employee how much they appreciate them, then only does on March 6th as a way to think it’s “all good” for the year.
There are already articles and letters floating around from various organizations telling leaders how they can recognize their employees easily and with almost no thought at all. It is unreal. I’m here to say right now that if you are a leader, it is supposed to be hard, not easy. It is supposed to take time, you are supposed to give feedback and you should put thought into it. Here are 3 things you SHOULD do on March 6th, Employee Appreciation Day to turn the tides on the “easy” approaches that are not meaningful:
- Form Letters- First, do NOT send the form letters full of jargon and business-speak. At least, do not send them in the spirit intended. Instead, print out the letter with all the (insert employee name here, insert project here, etc.) left in. Then, hand write a note at the bottom sincerely telling the employee how much you appreciate them and that you’d never send them a form letter like the one the note is written on. It will be quirky and unique. Another option is to call the team together and start reading the form letter mentioned above to them. As they look at you completely perplexed, stop reading and tell them they mean more to you than a form letter could ever say. Go around the room, in front of their peers, thanking them and giving examples of what each person does to bring value to the team.
- Donuts- I know, you’re probably thinking that Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts is RIGHT on your way to work and you can grab a couple dozen from the drive-thru. Don’t do it! Instead, do some reconnaissance today and find out what kind of candy, gum, or healthy snack each team member loves. Go to the store and buy each employee’s favorite thing. It will take more effort, that much is true. The cost will not be more though and I guarantee that a sincere thank you as you hand the person their favorite snack will be well worth the effort. I once had a boss bring me a huge canister of Tootsie Rolls “just because” I was working hard. Since that’s one of my favorite candies, it was a wonderful surprise and I knew she valued me.
- Gift Cards- We’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy you love. The same holds true with a thank you. Sure, a $5 gift card for coffee is nice, but it’s the easy way out. Instead, do a more personal act of service. Something like asking each staff member if they would like something to drink, then going to your company kitchen or the local store, or even coffee shop, and picking it up or making it for them. It becomes an act of service and for a boss to do something nice that makes them go out of their way is much more meaningful to the employee.
So, there you have it. Three ways you can make a more meaningful impact in the way you thank your staff. Oh, and by the way….thank YOU for wanting to do more to recognize them. It takes a great leader to want to go the extra mile!