Medicine is a Team Sport

Four Ways to Show Appreciation to your Employees Regardless of Company Size

Several years ago, I was touched to receive a Patriot’s football signed by all my staff. I was working in healthcare at the time, myself and the CEO had a saying, “Medicine is a Team Sport”. The football, with the signatures and that saying written across it, symbolized the work we had been doing within our culture. It represented everyone on the team having an equal voice in the quality and delivery of care to our patients. It even represented my love for football. Receiving that very personal gift, was one of the moments I felt most appreciated in the workplace.

To me, employee appreciation means to feel valued for the contributions I make and bring to the success of the company’s mission and business objectives. I want to feel like I matter, like what I do and bring in the way of intellect and ideas matter, I am heard, respected, seen and have a sense of belonging.

Employee appreciation doesn’t need to require a huge budget or even a ton of time. Here are my top ways to show appreciation to your employees regardless of company size.

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Say Thank You – Really, Just Say It

The national research as well as our own, with our workforce, reinforces that a simple thank you is still the most important way and what most employees are hoping for in the way of feeling appreciated. A thank you can be delivered in person, a written note sent home, a public thank you during a department meeting, a word art email thank you, or even a simple text or phone call. Don’t overlook this often underestimated form of appreciation in the office.

Make Fun Mandatory

At Harvard Pilgrim, we like to show our appreciation to our employees in a variety of fun ways. Some examples include scavenger hunts, on-site bowling, on-site golf tournaments, cornhole tournaments, ice cream socials, chair massages, and even manicures. In addition, we have employee resource groups that host a variety of business and social events throughout the year like Chinese New Year parties and service projects. The events celebrate who we are as a collective people and show appreciation for what each of us bring to the mission of our organization. Plus, it strengthens bonds within teams and encourages people to make new connections.

Give Experiences

If you are going to provide something in the way of cash or gift cards, try and make them experiential. Pay for part of someone’s landscaping project so that every time they are outside with their family in the yard, they are reminded of the company while they are enjoying their new space. Work with a farmer’s market to gift an employee with an experience of someone coming to their home and doing a farm to table meal, or a gift card to a farm-to-table experience for themselves and nine of their friends. If your appreciation is going to be cash-based only, it will not create a sustainable culture of appreciation.

Make Holidays Worth Celebrating

Outline a communications plan that spans the calendar year and notes Employee Appreciation Day, professional appreciation days, holidays as well as days special to your organization and the communities your organization serves.

Consider, giving each employee their birthday off with pay or a half day so that they can spend it doing something for themselves or institute a small budget by department so that a monthly celebration can take place for everyone who celebrated a work anniversary or birthday during that month. Encourage employees to make it personal by sharing a story of their 5 years with the company or what they most like to do to celebrate their birthday while not at work.

Too many people still think that appreciation involves money and that if you don’t have a spot bonus program you can’t appreciate your staff adequately. Appreciation is not about rewards. Appreciation evokes a feeling or response to being valued for who you are and your contribution.

People naturally want to do well, to do their best, to make a difference and to help others. If we create an environment where we are visibly celebrating what people do, how they do it and what it does for the company, the customer or the community, we will inspire them to continue to do what comes naturally; i.e., their best. Like Maya Angelo once said, “People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel”.

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