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8 ways to show you appreciate your employees

By Michael Crump | 05 January 2018

How much do you show that you appreciate your employees? It appears to be a common aspect of human behaviour that we often take things for granted. We do this with family, friends and our employees. Even though we know we shouldn't. Don’t let this appreciation no-show continue by following these ways to spread the love a little more around the office.

Token gestures can go a long way

The rewards for making your employees feel appreciated are invaluable and intangible. Instead of showing appreciation for convenience, make it an honest display of gratitude. A small gesture goes a long way, as studies have shown happy employees are more productive employees.

Think about yourself; wouldn't you work harder for a boss that emphasised her appreciation and respect for your efforts rather than a boss who only criticised your output? Of course, you would. However, it can be difficult to find ways to express your appreciation that aren't hokey, contrived, or costly.

The first thought many might have is, “Just give them a raise, stupid”. But it’s not practical to give employees a raise every time they perform well at work. Such a policy would not be profitable for even the wealthiest of companies, and furthermore, is mounting evidence to suggest that at a certain point, financial rewards are less effective at promoting desired behaviour than other, less tangible incentives.

nice gesture

Everybody likes to feel special. This is the mentality of the classic “Employee of the Month” concept. But rather than that uninspired old idea, why not try to make it a little more playful? It’s becoming common in recent years for sports teams to reward their ‘player of the game’ with an outlandish hat or a replica professional wrestling championship belt to wear - an idea worth borrowing. For example, you could buy a little trinket, something silly and colourful and place it on the employee’s desk.

Similarly, you could reward said employee with a coveted parking spot for the duration of the “reward period”. It’s important that this should be a fun exercise and not something that generates jealousy or unwarranted competitiveness, so it might be worth considering having your team choose the winner themselves with a vote or have the previous “champion” award it to the next one. This type of practice not only demonstrates appreciation for an outstanding employee’s work, but can also create a team mentality.

If You Can’t Give Money, Give Time

Something the top companies are beginning to learn is that a flexible work schedule can be as-appealing to employees as high salaries. You can never make up for lost time but you can always make more money.

As a general rule, it’s important to remember this and that your employees are not automatons who don’t exist outside the office (unless your staff are all robots, then you don’t have to worry about anything). Do not take up any more of your employees’ time with work than necessary. Furthermore, if you have a trusted employee who has proven themselves reliable and dependable, go out of your way to make their schedule more flexible. This could be as simple as saying, “You did a really good job, why don’t you take a long lunch today”, or, better yet, if you know an employee has an upcoming event of note in his life, try to accommodate.

For example, “Isn't tonight your son’s piano recital? You've been working so hard this past week, you can leave early today to get ready for it”. This is great because it not only gives them some flex time, it also establishes that you have a knowledge or interest in their personal life.

Which brings us to number three.

Establish a personal connection with your staff

This tip is perhaps the easiest and most obvious, yet many bosses fail to do this. For many, conversations between employers and employees revolve solely around work. People can get so wrapped up in deadlines, quotas and meetings that they fail to recognise the humanity of their co-workers.

This can be a real drain on the morale and the efficiency of a team. It is especially important for a boss to take an interest in their employees’ lives to establish a connection with them and also set a positive tone and environment for the workforce.

This can be as simple as making sure to use their first names often –  sounds silly, but it does work– or asking about their weekend. Ask them how their lives are going and really listen to the answer. Don’t hesitate to make announcements congratulating employees on achievements they've made in their personal lives.

Don’t make public announcements about anything too personal of course. You don’t want to be standing by the door at the end of the day shouting out, “Hey everybody, Jim’s trying to get his wife pregnant. Let’s all wish him good luck tonight!” Yeah, best keep that quiet.

productive brainstorming session at work

Note good work and appreciation

Saying, “Good job”, to an employee when a task has been performed well is always a positive thing. But it is rather run-of-the-mill. So much so that it can just seem routine or obligatory. Much like saying, “thank you” to the barista who hands you your morning coffee (with your name spelled a new way every time, somehow). You don’t really mean it. You’re just saying it to be polite.

So, how do you convince your employees you really appreciate their work? Well, you could stand there, vigorously shaking their hand and staring into their eyes saying, “No, I mean it, you really did a good job”, until it gets awkward and they literally run away from you. Or, better yet, send them a note.

Even better perhaps, is to leave an employee a handwritten note on their desk. That the note is handwritten may not seem like much, but subconsciously, it is likely to register with the employee that you took the time and actually thought about their work and that you’re grateful to have them on your team.

Fun times at the office

Work can’t always be fun and you can’t have everybody goofing around all the time. But at the same time, the constant grind of work in a drab atmosphere is unlikely to produce creativity or foster teamwork.

It’s important to spice things up with a short activity every once and a while. For example, one week you could have all of your staff bring in a baby photo of themselves and pin them all on a bulletin board and have people guess who is whom. A game like this wouldn't take long and it would inject a bit of fun into the office and maybe help people get to know each other better.

Deliver them their fix

Most offices have either a small kitchen or a table with a coffee maker, so why not go a step further? Once a week, take out a little food cart and wheel it around the office. Offer your employees coffee, or water, or a snack, or whatever and take the opportunity to talk to them a little bit. Not only will they appreciate you delivering the caffeine-high they so badly need in the mid-afternoon, but such a practice will help strengthen your rapport with your staff.

Remember anniversaries

While it’s important to reward employees for specific achievements or efforts, just making them feel appreciated in general is also useful in sustaining high morale and productivity. Try to remember how long employees have been working for you and do something to celebrate each milestone.

It could be as modest as announcing to the staff that Sheila has just finished her first month and that you think she’s fitting in well. For more momentous milestones, do something a little more elaborate. If an employee has a five-year anniversary approaching make a deal of it and give the office a break to enjoy some cake and celebrate.

colleagues having an office party


If you oversee a number of departments, you can show collective appreciation to each department. You can dedicate each week to a different department. One week could be accounting week, the next sales week. Take them out to lunch one day or if that’s not affordable, simply make a speech or memo praising their hard work and how important they are to the company.

Give them some flex time or let them dress casually throughout the week. This is a good strategy for those who have so many employees that getting to know all of them on a personal level can be impractical.

Make them feel special

Whatever you do, you have to make your staff feel special. Because they are! The machine needs every cog working properly to function, and that’s as true for you as it is for your employees. If you’re looking for more specific ways to generate teamwork, find them here. So, what do you do to show your appreciation for your staff? What have bosses done that make you feel special and respected? Let us know!

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