Look, the truth is that most every employee on the planet would rather be at home sleeping. That’s why people get payed to go to work. Even the most rewarding and entertaining job requires monetary compensation. While a paycheck will go a long way towards motivating an employee to do his or her job, sometimes it’s just not enough.
Real motivation requires something extra, which is why bosses around the world are becoming so interested in employee recognition. Employee appreciation techniques can turn even the most lackadaisical worker into the next employee of the month.
Here are some tips on how to make the members of your team feel appreciated.
1. Where Appreciation Begins
You don’t need a reason to be polite. Phrases like “please” and “thank you” will accomplish wonders if you’re trying to show employees some real appreciation. You may be the CEO of your company, and you might be issuing an assignment to a summer intern, but that doesn’t give you the right to order him around. Instead of barking out commands, show appreciation by extending some common courtesy. Say “please” as you do so, and say “thank you” when your employees comply. I’ve seen enough boss-employee interactions to know that it’s a lesson many employers could stand to relearn. Few things breed resentment quite like being treated like a piece of equipment.
2. Keep track of accomplishments
Sometimes employees feel as though they are toiling in obscurity. It can be really depressing to work your butt off to solve a problem, only to have it go completely unnoticed. So take some time and keep track of your employees’ accomplishments. When someone performs well, be prompt about it and let that person know just how important their contribution is. Be genuine, and tell them how much they’ve helped the business. Let them know how proud you are of them. Be specific. If the employee knows that you care enough about his project to keep tabs on it, he will care more about it as well.
3. Give rewards for good work, and sometimes for no reason at all
Deep down, human beings are very simple creatures. When we are rewarded for specific behavior, then we instinctually learn to repeat that behavior. We then have hopes of receiving further reward. A free lunch, extra vacation time, or even some silly little trinket can all be great parts of an employee appreciation program. They can also condition your team members to work even harder in the future. Alternately, you can boost general moral and productivity if you spring for a company pizza-party (or something similar). Just don’t do it too often, or people will begin to expect it. After all, the surprise is half the fun.
4. Be friendly
Being friendly doesn’t mean slapping five and calling everyone “bro.” It means getting involved in your employee’s lives, having natural, non work-related conversations with them. And, for the love of Pete, please learn how to pronounce their names correctly. The difficult part is being able to walk the line between employee and friend. Some people say it can’t be done, but they’re wrong. It is possible to be both a boss and a friend, and those who achieve that delicate balance quickly find that their workers are that much more willing to go the extra mile. Not for the company; but for their friend who has shown them some real appreciation.
5. Don’t force it
People are great at picking up on a lack of sincerity. If you’re walking through the cubicles at the same time every Friday, dishing out non-specific praise just so you can check “improve employee moral” off of you calendar, you’re not fooling anyone. Most people would rather absorb an insult than have to act grateful for an insincere compliment. As you do your best to let your team know how important they are, let it come naturally.
Keep track of their accomplishments, get involved in their lives, reward their good work. Be polite, show some real appreciation, and recognize that without the employees the company wouldn’t get very far. If you can get to the point where you actually do appreciate the people working under you, then showing it will come naturally.