Photo: Theresa Thompson via Flickr
Today, March 4, marks annual Employee Appreciation Day, which has taken place on the first Friday of every March since 1995. Interesting timing, considering several recent studies show many employees may not feel very appreciated.Nearly 50 per cent of employees surveyed by MarketTools, Inc., an enterprise feedback management and market research company in San Francisco, have considered leaving their current jobs, and 21 per cent have applied for another job in the past six months.
“A strong correlation exists between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a company’s revenue and profitability,” said Justin Schuster, vice president of enterprise products at MarketTools, Inc. “Satisfied, engaged employees provide a better customer experience that leads to customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive surveyed more than 2,400 employers and 3,900 workers nationwide from November 15 to December 2, 2010 across industries and company sizes. The survey found 15 per cent of full-time, employed workers are actively seeking a new job. 70-six per cent reported that, although they are not actively looking, they would change jobs in 2011 for the right opportunity.
The disconnect between employees and employers, in part, seems due to lack of consistent feedback, recognition, and appreciation, according to Bob Nelson, the unofficial founder of Employee Appreciation Day and author of “1001 Ways to Reward Employees.”
organisations that have a “culture of recognition” have employees who report they are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with the company, six times more likely to invest in the company, and eleven times more likely to feel completely committed in their jobs, which has been shown to account for 57 per cent greater effort on the part of employees in research by Towers Perrin.
“There’s a big difference between getting people to come to work and getting them to do their best work. I noticed there was a Manager’s Appreciation Day, in October, and felt employees deserved equal footing on this topic,” says Nelson. “I believe employees should be appreciated on a daily basis when they perform well, so having this day in their honour is really meant to be a reminder to all managers to value their employees.”
I Love Rewards, located in Cambridge, Mass., helps company like 3M, Microsoft, and Marriot engage their employees every day through performance-based recognition tied to meaningful rewards.
“It’s important to take time, not only on this day, to provide meaningful recognition and rewards. For Employee Appreciation Day this year, we’re celebrating our most successful quarter in company history and have chartered a plane to fly the entire team from Toronto and Boston to New York City for a rewards and recognition luncheon. After that, each employee gets free time to celebrate in whatever way is most meaningful to them,” said Razor Suleman, CEO of I Love Rewards. “Employee experience is a determining factor in productivity, retention, and a company’s bottom line, which is why celebrating success is one of I Love Rewards’ values and a fundamental part of our culture. Empowering employees to choose their own rewards is the biggest motivator and drives business success.”
To raise some awareness about the holiday, they also created an office flash mob video.
Dawn Pieke, a marking manager at Hirease, Inc., a background services company located in Southern Pines, N.C., says Employee Appreciation Day is “an extremely important event.”
“Not only do the founders, Heidi and Paul Dent, bring in delicious food on this day and give a heartfelt thanks during a company-wide meeting, but they also carry this event throughout the year by having fresh flowers on each person’s desk, free oil changes each quarter, chair massages each quarter, reimburse for gym memberships, and give incredible Christmas gifts, which this year included iPads and iPods for each employee,” said Pieke. “They also give praise regularly to employees that give great customer service, bring on new clients, and also those that come up with exceptional ideas to help the company.”
Many of the rewards employees receive are tangible in nature. When asked why, Ron Orleans, CEO of GiftsOnTime.com, responded, “In the realm of employee appreciation, I believe that actions speak louder than words. Giving gifts to employees as a sign of appreciation sends a clear message – I value you as an employee, I value your work, and I appreciate what you contribute to this company. While employers may have the best intentions to thank their employees for what they do, they often get sidetracked by the day-to-day workflow and appreciation falls by the wayside. But, sending even a small token of thanks via a personalised gift is a simple way to express your gratitude.”
Perhaps it’s too late to pull off an official celebration, but Suleman offer some tips of how to effectively appreciate and reward employees:
Ask and empower employees. Ask employees if they’re engaged, ask them how they want to be motivated.
- Give meaningful recognition. Robert Half International, the nationwide staffing firm, recently conducted a survey of why people leave their jobs and found the number one reason to be a lack of praise and recognition. Recognition that is timely, specific, and meaningful is a powerful tool in employee engagement.
- Rethink rewards. Reward performance, not presence. Although, it’s proven that traditional service awards are ineffective, 92 per cent of organisations continue to practice yearly recognition and reward with them. Introduce rewards that work and give options.
Clearly Nelson is—and has been—onto something, even if it takes an annual “holiday” to remind employers about the importance of appreciating their hardworking employees.
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