Having staff who feel appreciated is key to a well motivated work force, who will deliver their absolute best for you. Not all businesses have luxury level budgets to reward and recognise their staff through bonus schemes and incentives - but the good news is that showing your team how much you appreciate them does not need to break the bank, with a few simple ideas.
Get the basics right
In motivation - and appreciating your staff is certainly usually intended to increase motivation, Maslow’s ’Hierarchy of needs’ model, first conceptualised in the very different working environment of 1943, still holds true. Maslow’s suggestion is that people have a set of different needs running from the very basic (physiological, safety), through social needs, and finally reaching the desired state of ’self actualisation’. Unless the basic needs are met, people cannot progress onto the next level, meaning hoping for any high level of motivation when structures are not in place to meet the very basic needs of employees is fruitless.
What this means for appreciating your team, is that you need to get the basics right. Make sure employees have the tools they need to do their job, are clear on the requirements of their work, are properly paid and feel secure. Once these things are in place, you can move to more elaborate ideas!
Know your team
A basic, but often overlooked, requirement for any efforts at appreciation, reward or recognition of your employees to be valuable, is to actually know your team as individuals. Remembering details of significant events, and commenting on them, asking how a child’s first day at school went, for example, builds relationships and improves the morale of your team. A little knowledge goes a long way - noticing when someone has just come back from holiday or has been off sick shows how much you appreciate it when they are there.
The more you get to know your team, the better able you are to truly show how much you appreciate then, as you will know better what makes them tick, what will be motivational and well received by individuals according to their tastes. Understand individual’s career aspirations and what motivates them to come into work every day, and you will be able to show your appreciation by helping them to develop along whatever path they have chosen.
Recognition, as opposed to reward which may take the form of financial motivation, is often the most beneficial way of showing your team you appreciate them. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also completely free.
Know your people well enough to understand who will appreciate public recognition, and for whom a quieter form is more appropriate. Say thank you, often, and mean it. Highlight good work and offer praise. Even if you are also giving constructive critique, the feedback will be appreciated and understood as a method of improving work, rather than personal criticism. Showing you care about an individual’s skill and expertise shows them how much you appreciate them, and you can also help enormously by being very clear on your expectations in regards the work being done.
There is a time and place for reward in different forms - be that financial incentives and bonus schemes, one off rewards of money or other gifts, or non financial reward such as increased time off work. A good reward scheme will not be enough on its own to show your team how much you appreciate them, but it can be used to motivate some individuals, and can be especially effective with some groups such as those early on in their careers, and new members of the team.
Perhaps the most effective form of reward and recognition to show you appreciate your team is to take the opportunity to spontaneously reward some or all of your employees. Allowing everyone to leave an hour early on a sunny Friday, or come into work a little late on the day the clocks change, will effectively cost nothing, but showing you trust and appreciate your team like this will certainly be well received.
When considering how to show your team how much you appreciate them, being authentic and finding ways to thank them regularly, catch people doing something right, and surprise them with small rewards, are little things that are worth more than the sum of their parts. Fostering a team culture where everyone does the same will lead to a fun and engaging place to work, where people bounce in happy, go above and beyond the expectations of their roles, and improve your business along the way.