The first Friday in March is Employee Appreciation Day. While it’s fantastic to set aside a day to celebrate employees, gratitude and appreciation should not be confined to one day a year. It needs to be a daily ritual.
4 Tips For Instilling Everyday Gratitude
- Recognize and appreciate people for both small and big accomplishments.
- Get rid of silos and create connections among employees.
- Coach, don’t criticize, employees.
- Foster a culture of giving.
Creating a culture of gratitude means more than just offering thanks to your people. It’s about investing in employees. Gratitude changes who people are, in and out of the office. Creating a culture of gratitude is about leading by example and spreading the message company-wide.
Recognize Big and Small Accomplishments
Start by recognizing and appreciating people for both the big things and the small things on a daily basis. Don’t save your thank yous for Employee Appreciation Day alone or for an Employee of the Month award. Make sure your praise comes from a genuine place and that employees feel it. They likely know the immediate impact their work had, but it’s super powerful for them to see that you know and recognize the impact they had.
When team members feel respected and valued, the positive momentum spreads until your whole team is flooded with gratitude on every level, from employees to executives and everyone in between.
When building an amazing culture of gracious, engaged team members, it’s really important that you get rid of as many barriers between employees as possible and focus on creating connections.
It’s not enough to just have an Employee Appreciation event once a year and call that your company bonding activity. Relationships are affected every single day and it’s important to provide opportunities for your team members to connect on a regular basis.
When you encourage your employees to make friends at work, you’ll start to see connections form and even an increase in people feeling like they belong at your company. Employees who feel like they belong are more likely to be engaged in the work they’re doing, which means they are more productive, more effective and even more loyal.
Coach, Don’t Criticize
One of the best ways to show your team that you care is to help them progress in their current and future career. You do that by being a coach or a mentor, not just a boss. Would you feel appreciated if the only thing your manager did was criticize your every move? Probably not.
A few years ago, Forbes explored the difference between criticism and coaching. The article has a lot of great points, but one in particular stuck out to me: “Criticism is focused on what we don’t want; feedback is focused on what we want.”
During coaching sessions and reviews, be intentional. Don’t highlight all the missteps and failures. Instead, look at the bigger picture: what can you do to help this person become better at work, at home, in the community and in every other way? And, in the meantime, help them understand the importance of their work and even help them find ways to be a better contributor.
Leaders, Lead the Way
As a leader, you have the power and responsibility to create an environment where employees feel valued. Your team will be more productive, motivated and engaged if they feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.
Leading by example means actually doing the work by saying “thank you” often, opening the line of communication between departments and pairing employees with mentors to improve performance. Building a culture of gratitude starts with creating a two-way relationship with your employees where trust is the norm.
A culture of gratitude isn’t just about giving to your employees and making them feel appreciated. It’s also about going the extra mile in creating a company that gives. Finding ways to serve as a company not only gives your employees ways to connect with each other outside of the office, but it also helps your team focus on something outside of themselves. Encourage your team to be intrinsically grateful.
One of my company values that I love is “serve always.” It’s a powerful value that drives my behavior outside of work and has helped me to become a more grateful, grounded and humble person. As a leader, create opportunities or even values at work that can extend beyond the walls of the office and help your employees become better people.
The key to going beyond one Employee Appreciation Day and fostering a culture of gratitude is making it a priority and then actually doing something about it. It’s easy to start by just saying “thanks” and then move on to those bigger and better culture initiatives.