10 Low-Cost Ideas for Employee Appreciation Month

award ribbon prize public domainIt could be that the fastest way to happy customers is by creating a team of happy employees. Good cheer is contagious and heightens the enjoyment in any setting. Further, enjoying their time on the job spent with coworkers is the biggest contributor to job satisfaction.

With these ideas in mind, it’s time to pack March – employee appreciation month – with special events to show your gratitude. And while we’re taking special note of this in March, don’t think this is a “one-and-done” process. Make expressing your gratitude a professional habit.

1.  Make it personal. Personally express your gratitude to each of your employees. This may be the most important step for you to take. While we are discussing employee appreciation month, this is an action item you need to schedule throughout the year. Provide yourself with whatever kind of reminders you need to be sure you get this done.

2.  Establish a suggestion program and implement some of the suggestions. You can use the old “suggestion box” vehicle or bring it into the 21st century with a special email address assigned to suggestions: e.g. suggestions@mycompany.com. Follow-up is the important part of this

3.  Give time off unexpectedly. Award your team with an early (paid) quitting time some day when you can work out the details. Another variation would be an extended lunch break.

4.  Solicit ideas for retreats, seminar attendance and other off-campus events. Find out what kind of activities employees truly see as beneficial to their job performance and careers. Work these into your future plans.

5.  Encourage continuing education. Let your employees know that you want to see them advance in their careers. If you can’t reimburse for supplies or tuition, introduce your employees to the wide range of free, high-quality training and college courses that are available online.

6.  Play well with one another. Have employees bring in their favorite games and enjoy a few hours of casual fun. You can also stage a company-wide tournament to find out, for example, who is the best Connect Four player. Bring in a 1,000-piece puzzle for people to work on.

7.  Plant a garden. If you have the space, give a little release time to employees who sport green thumbs. Some might be interested in preparing a plot of soil for a vegetable garden when the warmer months are here.

8.  Give an inexpensive gift. Lottery tickets and Starbuck cards are inexpensive items that virtually everyone will appreciate. How about holding a drawing where the winner receives a professional house cleaning? (Toss my name in the hat if you do that one!)

9.  Casual or humorous dress day. If your setting is more on the formal side, break the mold and go casual. If casual is standard, don’t wait for Halloween to allow costumes. I know some companies that have had fun with “dress like the boss” day; it can be hilarious when people point out your little habits.

10.  See what your employees want to do. It’s very important that you make suggesting and planning these inexpensive acknowledgements a year-round routine. Don’t wait for employee appreciation month. Solicit ideas from your team on a monthly or quarterly basis.

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