4 Sources of Employee Appreciation That Will Build Morale in Tough Times (Like Now)

 4 Sources of Employee Appreciation That Will Build Morale in Tough Times (Like Now)

Best Workplaces Employee Experience Employer Brand Thanking

Image: Employees at Asbury Communities going above and beyond during COVID-19.

This is an unusual year, with employees living and working in unexpected circumstances. 

People are showing up and carrying out the business of their companies every day. And they are not just performing at work, they are showing up for their families and for their communities.

How can we recognize the good work and extra effort from employees during these times?

Traditional recognition is about showing appreciation for employees’ good work or other achievements. But this year, we have an opportunity to recognize those who are responding to the extraordinary.

1.  Recognize employees’ commitment to their communities

When the pandemic hit, our Best Workplaces recognized early that they and their employees are connected to communities that may need extra support during these challenging times. 

Centro, an enterprise software for digital adverting and a Best Workplaces winner in Chicago recognized employees’ generosity by matching staff donations to local charities. The company recently provided nearly 5000 meals to those in need throughout the Greater Chicago area.

Here at Great Place To Work® in the United States, our leaders recognized our efforts with a weekly allowance for a local restaurant meal. This gave us an opportunity to give back to the communities that we would support during normal times.

Now is the perfect time to revisit or increase your nonprofit match programs. And encouraging employees to recognize the hard work being done in their communities is a sure-fire way to increase the impact of your mission and help your employees feel recognized.

2.  Appreciate your furloughed employees

Some best companies take For All™ – creating an outstanding culture for all, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization – to the next level. These companies showed appreciation for their furloughed employees because they were contributing team members just months ago, and many have tremendous tenure.

At Power Home Remodeling, a home improvement company named to the Fortune Best Workplaces in New York™, leaders extended appreciation to their furloughed employees by paying 100% of their benefits, as well as including them in communications and culture surveys.

Wegmans, a grocery store chain and perennial Best Workplace winner, took their commitment to employee appreciation to the next level by and inviting employees of other Best Workplaces to work at Wegmans’ during their furloughs.

3. Recognize your people for learning outside the box

During normal times, learning and development is synonymous with career growth. Most companies have a structured, once-a-year performance review process that focuses on job performance and goal attainment.

But this year, many employees are taking on new responsibilities and were asked to work in new ways in response to shifting demand. Job roles continue to expand, meanwhile, leaders are asked to have more frequent and more inclusive conversations with employees.

We can flip the traditional definition of development during times like these by supporting employees through ALL of their learning activities.

Noom, a New York City-based health and wellness tech startup and Best Workplaces winner reimburses employees for expenses that help them be a better performer on the job, whether it’s a leadership book or programming classes. Employees are encouraged to pursue development that helps them maximize their full potential.

These activities may not be captured in a performance appraisal, but they are still key opportunities to recognize the hard work and extra effort put forth by employees, particularly as it applies to growth and development.

4. Recognize a culture of doing things differently

This year has been a hard pivot for many organizations, where employees are often doing more with less, all while experiencing increased stress and anxiety, on teams with significant responsibilities both inside and outside of work.

Yet our people still try new things and share their ideas of what we can do better, for both our companies and for the world.

Amid branches shutting down and employees working from home, at Capital One – a financial services firm and Best Workplaces for Women™ front-runner – the spirit of innovation led a software engineer who liked to tinker on a quest.

He mobilized his fellow employees and community members to create PPE using a network of 3D printers, all with the full support of his manager.

Celebrate innovative thinking -  even when its not related to your core business.

Feedback and recognition matter more than ever

Pivoting to new ways of working comes with anxiety and a need for positive reinforcement. Without employee recognition, employees can burn out on the constant change.

Look at your employee recognition programs and ask yourself: do we appreciate employees for where they are right here, right now?

Recognition begins with the why. Knowing how to recognize your employees starts with listening. Best Workplaces keep track of what their employees care about right now through regular employee surveys. Ask us how our Trust Index™ survey can help you today.


Julian Lute