Here are budget-friendly, but still impactful, ways to express employee appreciation during COVID-19 and beyond.
The pandemic has been — and continues to be — nothing if not a unique challenge for small businesses.
Thankfully, many leaders have teams of dedicated employees who have gone above and beyond during these demanding times. Even if your budget is thin, there are still plenty of ways that you can show your employees how much you appreciate them that don’t include giving out raises or bonuses.
Listen to their ideas
If you have talented people doing good work, recognize that by taking their ideas, suggestions, and criticisms seriously.
This is one of the simplest yet most direct ways that you can show rather than tell your employees that you appreciate them. If you have talented people doing good work, recognize that by taking their ideas, suggestions, and criticisms seriously. Even if you don’t end up implementing every suggestion you hear (such is an impossible task), follow up on the ideas they gave to you to show you considered them. If you didn’t implement them, explain why.
Offer fringe benefits
Even if you can’t offer raises, if your company has been putting in extra time, consider fringe benefits that can show your appreciation. Maybe you can start covering the cost of parking or public transportation to work, or you can offer a stipend to cover a portion of your employee’s cell phone or internet bill. These approaches spread benefits across your company rather than concentrating it on one person through a raise.
Unlike traditional macro-recognition tactics that take the shape of more formal employee recognition systems, micro-recognition is all about small, informal recognitions that occur on a moment to moment basis. It also hinges on being a real-time recognition system. It requires leaders and peers to offer praise and positive feedback as stellar performance manifests in both big and small ways. The key is to be immediate, frequent, and sincere in your recognition.
Unlike traditional macro-recognition tactics that take the shape of more formal employee recognition systems, micro-recognition is all about small, informal recognitions that occur on a moment to moment basis.
Highlight your employees on social media
Ditch the employee of the month plaque that hangs in the break room; opt for public-facing social media praise instead. Of course, you’ll need consent to post about your employees on your company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, but chances are they’ll be jazzed about the praise and happy to oblige. It can be as simple as a stock photo of employee appreciation text and linking to their personal account. Or it could be a photo of them in action with a caption that explains why their work matters.
Encourage your employees to recognize each other
Employee appreciation doesn’t have to be top down. One great way to increase employee recognition is to encourage and remind your employees to recognize their peers. Whether that’s through peer-to-peer micro-recognition or an employee appreciation system that requires someone to be nominated by their peers, the goal is to get appreciation coming at employees from all directions.
Celebrate their birthdays
It’s a small thing, but it can mean a lot to a lot of people. Even if it’s just a company-wide email noting someone’s special day. Or perhaps it’s cupcakes brought in and a card. An extra bit of recognition on an employee’s special day can go a long way.
Celebrate their work anniversaries
Everyone knows when another year passes at their job, but it’s an event that’s rarely celebrated. Unlike birthdays, this annual event is specific to your business and marks another year of contribution to the company’s success. You can treat an employee to lunch (send an Uber Eats, Grubhub or DoorDash gift certificate). Or celebrate in a way that’s similar to a birthday celebration. The key is highlighting how much you appreciate all the time they put into your mission and goals.
Promotion is one of the most direct ways to show that you appreciate your employees and it creates tangible benefits in terms of career development.
Promotion is one of the most direct ways to show that you appreciate your employees and it creates tangible benefits in terms of career development. Of course, a pay increase might not be possible along with it at the moment, but offering a promotion with a clear path and plan for when the money will be able to come is one way to keep promoting even while funds are running low.
Offer continuing education
The ability to learn on the job is important for almost all employees, especially those of younger generations. Whether that’s signing them up for webinars or offering career coaching services to help them identify the areas in which they want to grow, helping them improve their skills and ultimately their careers is a clear way to show that you value them.
Highlight their impact
Even in small businesses, it can sometimes be hard to see the impact you create as an individual team or employee. When your company hits milestones, outline which teams and people did what to accomplish that. This naturally shows that the work that they do matters.