Making Employee Appreciation Day Last All Year Round

Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Experience Gifts, discusses the importance of making employees feel appreciated.

Celebrated in March, Employee Appreciation Day is a great time for businesses to focus on showing their team appreciation including rolling out rewards in recognition of all their hard work. But showing employees appreciation shouldn’t be confined to just one day. Although Employee Appreciation Day may be the starting gun for some businesses, it should be adopted as an ongoing approach to foster employee engagement all year round.

How employee appreciation helps to retain talent

In the current labour market, where labour shortages and rising inflation are making it harder than ever for businesses to attract and retain top talent, there has never been a more important time for businesses to offer their people added value to their employment package. That’s because employee appreciation is proven to be an incredibly important tool when it comes to boosting employee retention and productivity. 

In a recent survey of workers, SurveyMonkey found that 63% of those who are “always” or “usually” recognised by the employer are “very unlikely” to job hunt in the next 3–6 months. In contrast, only 11% of those who are “never” or “rarely” recognised would agree. The results show a direct correlation between the quality and frequency of a business’s employee appreciation programme and its ability to keep talented team members. 

Additionally, it can help businesses to attract the top candidates by making sure their employee wellbeing support stands out in a crowded market. The combination of improving employee retention and recruitment prospects can help to reduce costs associated with high turnover and training new hires, as well as boost morale by creating a more cohesive team.

With this in mind, appreciating employees through reward and recognition initiatives is vital for all competitive businesses.

Maintaining motivation through employee appreciation

Amid a competitive labour market, HR leaders need to find new and creative ways to reward employees for their efforts in a way that works for both remote and office-based workforces.

First and foremost, a company portal for employees is a great way to keep workers engaged with employee appreciation initiatives regardless of where they happen to be working. Once that’s established, you’re ready to begin creating your employee appreciation initiatives.

The key to a successful scheme is flexibility. Our recent whitepaper found that 86% of employees would like flexibility and choice in their rewards. Gift cards and vouchers are great options to reward employees while offering flexibility. Both of these options gained over 70% approval among workers.

Financial bonuses also received the seal of approval from respondents to our survey. However, businesses wanting to get the best ROI on their employee appreciation scheme should be wary of simply resorting to this option as a potentially “easy” fix. Often cash rewards can be frittered away on trivial purchases and the lack of personalisation means the bonus loses its resonance and employees are less likely to associate the benefits with the employer to the same extent.

Instead, businesses should consider tailoring their approach to employee appreciation based on the interests or needs of an individual or specific department. For example, offering parents flexible start and end times around core hours so they can take their kids to school. Or gift employees personalised experiences to enjoy such as a spa day or a football stadium tour depending on their passions.

At Virgin Incentives, for example, we recently bought everyone new merchandise including a personalised water bottle, organised a fun quiz, and treated everyone to a free food truck, where our members indulged in waffles and crepes. And of course, we topped it off with a Virgin Experience Days Gift Card so people can find new experiences of their choosing, to enjoy with friends and family. It is a great example of how simple, random acts of appreciation can be an effective way to boost morale by letting everyone know their contribution is constantly valued.

For those businesses operating on a tighter budget, there are cheaper alternatives to consider. Whether it’s as simple as a personal and heartfelt ‘thank you’ or finishing the working day early on Friday. These options don’t cost a penny and will always be well received. 

Although Employee Appreciation Day has now been and gone, it should not fall off the top of the agenda for businesses and their HR departments. To remain competitive in an increasingly challenging labour market, businesses must prioritise their employee appreciation strategy and keep their employees engaged within their company culture.

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