7 Small but Effective Ways to Let Employees Know They Are Appreciated (COVID-Safe)

Everyone is going through a challenging time right now, trying to maintain some sense of normalcy through the COVID-19 pandemic. Your team members may be worried about themselves or a family member getting sick, and how they will cope if that happens. Now is the perfect time to let them know how much you appreciate their contributions, and below are seven small but effective, COVID-safe ways to do so.

Two Words to Recognize a Job Well Done

The purpose of one of the most meaningful and motivating verbal or written conversations you can initiate is to say ‘thank you’ to your team members. Don Draper in Mad Men had a different approach. When confronted by a highly effective and talented employee about never saying thank you, his reply was a very loud and angry “That’s what the money is for!” As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well with his hard-working protege, who left the advertising firm shortly thereafter. While this is a fictional portrayal from a TV show, it clearly illustrates a real-world desire to feel gratitude for working diligently. It is not only nice to hear, it may also be hoped for. There is no downside to sharing this impactful sentiment.

Everybody Needs to Eat

When a team is working together in an office, the company having food catered is always a crowd-pleasing surprise. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working remotely and juggling home and career demands during the same hours, which means now is the perfect time to treat team members to a meal or snack delivered right to their houses. Something as easy and cost-effective as sending over a pizza for dinner means the employee doesn’t have to worry about making dinner that night, taking energy from stress and making it available to put toward work. For a fancier alternative that will require more individualized attention, consider utilizing apps that deliver servings of restaurant food, or home-delivered meal services for even more benefits to your team members.

Allowance for Remote Working Environments

It’s happened to every one of us – you sit down to work on a project at home, and either your child is suddenly hungry, your dog needs to go out, or something else unexpected happens in the household that requires immediate attention. Whenever possible, flexible scheduling should be a part of your business response to changes brought about because of COVID-19. For example, if a hard deadline needs to be met, as long as doing so would not cause the work to suffer, and any necessary collaboration can continue, allowing tasks to be completed when it is most convenient for your remote workers is a way to show trust, understanding, and support. Non-business hours might work better on some days for certain people – such as completing tasks after the kids are put to bed, or before the rest of the house wakes up – and a company being less stringent about when work needs to be in progress would be a great help.

Let Them Choose

Whether you believe “cash is king” or gift cards / certificates are the ultimate in convenience, giving team members a thoughtful surprise that they can customize to fit their preferences is always a great choice. Both are technically financial incentives, and usually done once a year for holidays, performance bonuses, or special events like birthdays or start date anniversaries. In this time of uncertainty, a little monetary boost can go a long way, not only for your staff. Many small businesses are struggling due to the continued mandatory closures intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, and purchasing a gift card or certificate from them now adds resources to their coffers, which helps keep these economy drivers afloat until they can reopen to customers again. This idea to show appreciation is definitely a win-win for everyone!

Develop Team Members to Foster Community in COVID-Safe Workspaces

It cannot be overstated how important self-leadership, interdependence, and skills-based knowledge are, especially at this challenging time, when the team is more separated due to social distancing and remotely working. Encourage confidence, empowerment, trust, and purpose in your employees through giving them project ownership and mentoring sessions over video conferencing. Make time to develop then employ skill-based knowledge, and you will see improvements in not only your team’s ability to work together, but in every link of the chain as well. The spirit of working together as a cohesive unit even when not together creates opportunities for individual and team growth and development.

Everyone Loves to See Their Name

One easy-to-implement way to show your appreciation involves something your company is probably doing a few times a week anyway - post on social media. When a new employee joins the team, you could introduce them on your social media channels. A nice way to jazz up the post and make it more engaging, as well as provide insight into whom your customers and vendors are working with, is to include a fun or interesting fact about the team member. Another reason to create a post centered around your employees is to celebrate milestones, such as birthdays and company-related anniversaries. When someone started with the company, was promoted, or participated in supporting a non-profit or other community-improving organization all demonstrate perfect opportunities to highlight an employee on your social platforms. In these posts, you could also include a photo (perhaps a headshot or the employee in the middle of a project). Be sure to write about your gratitude and appreciation for all their efforts, as that is especially nice for them to read. They'll feel seen and know you value their contributions.

Ask, Listen, and Implement

It’s kind of a long-running joke used in sitcoms and movies, but the truth is that many employees feel like they have no say at their jobs and the higher-ups don’t give a hoot about their opinions. One of the best ways to show you do care is simply asking questions or asking for feedback. This can be done at any time, and the overall subject can really be anything about your organization or the employee experience. Mai Ton, Vice President of Human Resources at White Ops, had the following to say about this practice:

"We distribute a quarterly pulse survey [that] allows them to give us [anonymous] feedback about the company at a macro level. We ask a set of 15 questions around teamwork, leadership, career growth, etc. each quarter to measure movement on any dimension. Then we give them three open text boxes to answer the questions: What are we doing well? What do we need to improve? What else is on your mind? We get our results each month with an average participation rate of about 75 percent and have more than 225 lines of data from the responses to those three open-ended questions. This allows all employees to feel heard and want to contribute to making our company win.”

Whichever options you choose to implement, there are countless opportunities to show your employees you appreciate them, and there are few more appropriate times than a months-long-and-still-going-strong pandemic to do so. Let your team members know!

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