In 2018, Deborah KL wrapped up her two year stint as the president of the Association of American Women in Europe. To thank her for the time and commitment to the organization, the group put together a ‘thank you’ Kudoboard highlighting Deborah’s two years in office.
The board includes dozens of effusive notes to Deborah recognizing her efforts. Here are just a few excerpts:
“Thank you for your leadership, your poise, your empathy, your spontaneous literary quotations, your unflagging humor and overall grace. As AAWE President you have nurtured our beloved association to a renaissance in membership and enthusiasm.”
“I have so enjoyed having you as President, your enthusiasm, efficiency and constant good humour were a pleasure. I know what that job takes and can profoundly appreciate all the time, work and love that you have given. Could we talk you into another year?”
“What a pleasure it’s been to work with you, and to see AAWE thrive and flourish, buzzing with fun events and innovative ideas. It’s inspiring to see how you dash from parties to financial seminars to support training, usually with a tin of home-baked goodies under your arm, and always with your finger on the pulse of what makes our club tick.”
The notes of appreciation go on (see full Kudoboard here), and it was a terrific treat for Deborah when she received the board. “I LOVE it!!!!” said exclaimed in a follow-up survey. “The photos, the messages, the whole idea was a wonderful surprise and is a precious memento from my dear friends.”
From all of us at Kudoboard, Deborah, congrats on the clear impact you had with your organization. And thanks for allowing us the privilege to share your Kudoboard story!
Numerous studies have shown that employee appreciation is one of the top factors in whether employees turnover — which has a huge impact on whether your team succeeds. For example, a Career Builder survey found that employee recognition was the 2nd most important factor in whether an employee stays with a company.
But not to worry. We’ve got you covered with 23 employee appreciation ideas to amp up your appreciation efforts:
1. Recognize birthdays & work anniversaries
When employees reach milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries, it’s a natural time for them to take stock and consider their futures. A surprising study by Harvard Business school revealed that the reflection that occurs around these big days is particularly crucial in whether folks stick around in their jobs. One easy way to get ahead of it is by going out of your way to recognize work anniversaries & birthdays.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t suggest Kudoboard as a great way celebrate your people. It allows colleagues to recognize an employee’s work anniversary or birthday with an online card that’s passed around and signed. Contributors can add pictures, GIFs, or videos – and gives the recipient something meaningful on an important day. Particularly if some of your employees are remote, it can provide an easy way a to bring everyone together.
Sometimes a handwritten thank you note is more powerful than an email ever could be. The key here is to write something unique directly for the individual employee that you are thanking. The last thing someone wants to receive is a handwritten “form letter.” It feels impersonal, and quite frankly – they’ll question your judgment (or at a minimum, your time management) for not just blasting an email out to everyone.
3. Non-work achievements
One of the hardest things about work is that things often remain “all business.” This is very efficient in the short term, but many folks crave a personal connection at some point. Taking a moment to publicly recognize employees’ non-work achievements can make a big difference in how employees relate to each other and ultimately the job.
Ok this one is not exactly rocket science. People love food. And when that food is a perk or reward – all the better. Bring some pizza into the office every once in a while; it will do wonders.
Have remote employees? Not a problem. Offering gift cards to eat at a restaurant nearby where they live can be a nice perk with a relatively low cost. And if you aren’t sure which retailer makes the most sense, you can always get them a Visa gift card that can be used to purchase virtually anything.
Taking the time to sent up a more formal mentoring system for your employees can make a big difference in whether they stick around for the long haul.
Even if employees are remote or part-time, setting them up with more senior mentors can make them feel connected and also encourage cross pollination of ideas across the company.
6. Continuing Education
There’s a well known quote from Richard Branson: Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to. One way to do both is to help defray some of the cost for your employee’s continuing education.
Whether a weekend course on a particular topic of relevance for their job, a conference, or even a course at a local college – showing your team that their ongoing growth and development is a priority can make a big difference in ensuring your employee appreciation efforts are successful.
7. One-on-one video chats
While much of your interaction with employees may be over email or chat, it makes a huge difference to set up regular 1:1 in-person check-ins with employees. It creates a personal connection and allows you to thank employees for their hard work in a more powerful and authentic manner.
8. Shout outs
When an employee does something well, give them a shout out. This can come informally, or you can have a more formal time (e.g. once a week on Fridays) when your team pauses for 5 minutes to come together and recognize each other.
9. If some employees are remote, respect that
People choose to work remotely for a variety of reasons. One of the most common, however, is the desire for more control over their schedule (and by extension, their life). Recognize that fact by giving your remote employees some flexibility in their schedules. The more you can move toward an output driven culture, the happier many of employees will be.
10. Unique Experiences
Employees have varying interests. Some want to go whitewater rafting, while others would rather curl up by the fire with a good book. If you are going to take the time (and spend the money) to give employees gifts – try to make them sufficiently customizable so that each employee can get what they want. One idea is to check out Blueboard, a site that allows your employees to select from a variety of unique, experiential rewards.
11. Employee of the month
It may sound cliche, but some things have been around forever because they work. Employee of the month is a great way to give a boost (and maybe a little gift) to someone who has been going above and beyond. This is particularly effective when it’s peer nominated and has some basic guardrails in place (e.g. don’t have the same person win again and again!).
12. Help with the Commute
There is nothing more soul sucking then a rough commute day after day. And if your office is located in a particularly high priced area (SF/NY — we’re looking at you), then you may even have some “super commuters” on your hands who are traveling multiple hours each way.
While you can’t dictate where your employees live, you can provide them help with the commute. For instance, you can cover the cost of public transportation, help to organize office carpools, or even set up a “work from home Wednesday.”
While this may not feel as creative as some of the other employee appreciation ideas out there, anything you can do to reduce this stressor will pay major dividends.
13. Add employees to your website
You know that sleepy “About” section of your website that hasn’t been updated in ages? Use it to highlight your employees.
Make sure to go beyond the mundane (e.g. name, photo, title). Have some fun with it by listing your employees’ favorite ice cream flavors, best vacations ever, etc. Bonus points if you can connect some of the fun facts to your company mission (e.g. Rotten Tomatoes employees should obviously list their favorite movie!).
14. Retirement Matching
Many of the items included on this list of employee appreciation ideas are simple and inexpensive. If we were being cynical, we’d even call them “hacks” (ooof).
But let it be said that often the best way to show your employees appreciation is to simply compensate them generously. This can come in the form of raises (obviously), or you can start offering a benefit like retirement matching.
Surveys indicate that only half of companies offer retirement plans, and of that group only about half offer matching programs. Put yourself in the top ~25% with a matching program and prove to your employees that your company will take care of them over the long haul.
15. Make Time for Volunteer Opportunities
Pay your employees to volunteer. It may sound counterintuitive, but many top companies give their employees PTO to go out and volunteer for causes that they care about. Some companies even go one further and will donate to these organizations on the volunteer’s behalf.
If you want to make it a bonding exercise, you can organize a group volunteering event among your team. Giving the employees the opportunity to have a say in the cause makes a big difference, so consider some kind of poll or vote (as opposed to volunteering again and again at that organization where the CEO sits on the board!).
16. The “Silly” Trophy
Senior investment bankers make millions of dollars. But guess what? Many still love to show off “deal toys” that they received after closing a big transaction.
Little trophies sitting on our desks can signify big accomplishments and give people a real confidence boost. Whether it’s for employee of the month or something more specific to your company — you’d be surprised at the mileage you can get out of a little trophy.
17. Suggestion Box
The suggestion box sounds like one of those employee appreciation ideas right out of 1970s Corporate America. Add cubicles and harsh lighting, and you can almost imagine the lifeless workplace droning away.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, giving your employees a public forum to give feedback can be a terrific way to show that you are listening, that you care, and that you will continuously improve.
In terms of exercise, this doesn’t necessarily need to be some morning routine schtick where all the employees are out on the front lawn doing Tai-Chi together. Something as simple as reimbursing employees for part of the cost of a gym membership can be the little push needed motivate someone who has put their health on the back burner recently!
When it comes to health, nothing is more important than food. So if you offer employees meals, try to have a healthy option available (and the same goes for vending machines). Don’t go overboard — we all need our M&Ms every once in a while. But making those healthier choices conveniently available can be what it takes to nudge people in a positive direction.
19. Employee Appreciation Week
Employee Appreciation Day is an unofficial celebration the first Friday in March (and is preceded by employee appreciation week).
It’s the quintessential hallmark holiday and everyone knows it — but still – why not use it as an excuse to do something special for your people? As far as employee appreciation ideas go, this one is about as simple as it gets!
20. Matching Donations
According to Double the Donation, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching donation programs to their employees. This is a terrific way to enhance your employees’ giving power towards causes they care deeply about while also tackling corporate social responsibility goals you have.
There are a few keys to a successful matching program that you want to consider. First, you need to publicize it among your employees on a regular basis; otherwise, they will forget about it and not ultimately see the value. Second, you need to make the process for accessing the match simple and straightforward. The more ‘one-click’ you can make the match, the more likely employees are to really consider it a benefit rather than a bit of a hassle.
21. Let Employees Make the Office Their Own
Ordering new furniture for the break room? Give employees a voice.
Looking to add some art to the walls? Give employees a voice.
Replacing desks with something more modern? Give employees a voice.
Updating the smoke detectors and installing sprinklers for safety? Ok this one you should probably just go ahead and handle!
22. Props on Social Media
If an employee knocks the ball out of the park on something, ask whether you can publicly sing their praises through your company facebook page, twitter handle, etc.
Some people won’t be comfortable with it (so always ask), but others will appreciation the public recognition — and as a bonus it broadcasts to future potential employees that your company recognizes its people for hard work and jobs well done.
23. Bring everyone together across multiple offices
Teams spread across multiple offices that interact regularly are an amazing product of the modern age. But the truth is – people still crave a connection to their colleagues. Bringing dispersed together on a semi-regular basis (once a quarter, once every 6 months, etc.) can seem like a daunting expense. But it will pay major dividends over the long run as it strengthens your company culture.
The new year is fast approaching. Take a minute to set reminders for yourself to use Kudoboard group ecards in 2019 here.
You can add next year’s birthdays, holidays, and special occasions into our reminder system now. We’ll email you one week prior to each of your events so that you remember to create your Kudoboard group ecards.
Thanks, and keep delivering happiness,
The Kudoboard Team
If someone’s passing around a paper card for a birthday, holiday, or special occasion – the answer to the question is simple. You sign your name, and that’s about it. Nothing interesting or inspiring about it, because quite frankly – there isn’t space.
If you want to sign a card from a group using Kudoboard, however, you’ve got decisions to make.
You can add a photo of you and the recipient together. You can upload a video you created on your phone (or embed one from youtube). You can grab a GIF from our GIPHY library. Or you can even write a heartfelt missive. The point is – you’ve got options.
As for the other contributors you invite to sign the card from your group – they’ve got options too. Folks can add as much to the Kudoboard as they want. With no constraints, the possibilities are endless. The only question is, does your recipient prefer dancing cat or dog GIFs?
So get out there – send a card from your group. But whatever you do, don’t just sign your name!
Earlier this year, Alight used Kudoboard to give employees a platform to recognize other members of the company for their work. Once such board was created for Shalini Arora. Here are a few choice quotes from the board:
“I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support and encouragement throughout. It’s soothing to know that I have such compassionate people surrounding me and together we can achieve great results. Thank you.”
“Thank you for converting my mistakes into Lesson, pressure into Productivity and Skills into Strengths.
You really know how to bring out the best in me. You believed in me and supported me in becoming better person and helped me to do better in my work every day.”
Earlier this year, Paula W.’s family created a Kudoboard for her a milestone birthday. Entitled “70 and Still Fabulous,” the board has pictures of Paula spanning back decades. Here are a just a couple choice quotes from nieces on the board:
“I’m so grateful, thankful and blessed to have you in my life. Family is so precious. I appreciate my family more and more each day. The time we spend, the laughs we share and the memories we have will forever be ours. This picture makes my heart smile. This is the first Thanksgiving my aunts and uncles came to break bread at our house. To see you all together makes holidays worth all the work. I love you very much!”
“I will forever be grateful for the many times you picked me up and spent time with me, those moments still bring me so much happiness as you were part of the woman I am today! Never judging me through my mess, reminding me of all the great things I have within me, teaching me that “beauty knows no pain,” making me feel like a powerful force to be reckoned with, and just transferring good vibes and good energy my way! Thank you for everything, you will forever have a special place in my heart! I hope you have a very blessed 70th Birthday and hopefully I’ll see you soon! ”
When Dave P. retired earlier this year, his colleagues created him an amazing retirement Kudoboard to wish him well. Here are just a couple choice quotes from Dave’s board:
“Words such as “Congratulations, Well Deserved, and You’ll be missed” aren’t enough to thank you for your contribution to the Forest Service, and the science community at large. Though as I look back at our five years of working together, I can’t help but emphasize those words. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement; it is so well deserved; and sadly, you will be missed! You have left a mark on our society, our Agency, the climate world and most of all, on me!”
“I have so many things to thank you for! Thank you for making me a better writer, for exemplifying professionalism, thank you for being understanding, and thank you for pushing me to be better! You have been the single most influential person in my career, and I fondly refer to you as “advisor gold”. The mark you have left on your students and colleagues has cascaded throughout our communities. Your work shows what a great scientist you are, and your interactions with individuals show what a great person you are.”
This past holiday season, parents of children attending Gumnut Kindergarten in Australia created a holiday card to deliver to teachers and staff at the school. There is clearly a tremendous sense of thanks and gratitude from the families of children attending the school, and as one parent put it:
“Thank you all to Gumnut kindy ladies for your love and support throught out these years. It’s so hard to believe this is our last year with you. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know you and we are very thankful for all your time and dedication, loving and nurturing our girls.”
Kandee’s colleagues created here a lovely retirement Kudoboard a few months back. To highlight just one among many messages on the board:
Every once in a while you have the great honor of working with a special person who you feel like will always be there. Then it is mind blowing when the day comes it is announced she is RETIRING!!! Kandee, I have learned so much from you over the last 20 years and not just about the credit counseling industry, but how to be a person of integrity and class. Congratulations on this new phase of your life! It is well deserved and I hope it brings you nothing but love, happiness and peace. “