In our series “A Helping Hand,” learn to show others how much you care about them through kind acts and thoughtful gestures. Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on March 4, but employers can — and should — carry the spirit of this holiday with them throughout the year.

No matter the industry, a business is only as successful as its employees. They are the lifeblood of a company, the engine that makes the enterprise “go.”

And whether your business is small enough to feel like an extended family or big enough to reach across the globe, keeping your employees happy and productive is essential to achieving your company’s goals.

With Employee Appreciation Day on March 4, there is no better time to show your employees how valuable they are — especially during such a unique period in history, says Kim Ellet, CPC and owner of The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta.

“Companies have had to take a step back over the past couple of years and figure out what their employees really want,” she says. “Employers need to ask themselves: ‘How has the world changed and what does this mean for my employees’ wellbeing?'”

In her opinion, year-round support and appreciation are key, and the upcoming holiday provides a perfect opportunity to kick that appreciation into gear.

“We’re seeing a shift from the almighty dollar ruling the way we appreciate our employees to people taking care of people,” Ellet says. “To really appreciate your employees, you need to shift the way you think about them and how you think about valuing them.”

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Here are five ways you can show your appreciation for your employees and boost morale in the workplace.

1. Listen

In Ellet’s eyes, the best thing an employer can do for its employees to truly show them it cares is to listen.

“Understanding what’s going on in your employees’ world is crucial to understanding appreciation in general,” she says. “We see this lesson all the time in shows like Undercover Boss: When employers step into the role of a worker, they learn so much about the inefficiencies of their companies, their processes, and their businesses, but they also finally have the opportunity to listen and learn from their employees.”

employee-appreciation-day: listening

Listening leads to change. It results in employees feeling valued, conversations opening up, and obstacles being eliminated. The best part is, you don’t need a camera crew to make this epiphany happen — all you need to is to listen.

“Everyone wants to be listened to, and doing that is the perfect way to show your employees how you value them as people and team members,” she says. “Even if you can’t make an immediate change and give them everything they’re asking for, you can still work together to brainstorm problems and provide feasible solutions.”

2. Say thank you

Thanking your people for a job well done creates a healthy work environment in which employees feel recognized and valued for the work they’re doing. This can go a long way toward making employees feel appreciated and keeping them motivated.

“Directly tell your employees that you appreciate them, but don’t just make a blanket statement — be specific,” Ellet says. “Say, ‘Wow, you handled that challenging client really well. It must have been frustrating, but you kept your cool and I appreciate having someone like you who can take the reins and handle these situations.'”

employee-appreciation-day: employees thanking each other

Of course, expressing gratitude and showing appreciation does not have to be a standardized process. You can develop a unique system of recognition and thanks that fits your business and the people who are a part of it. That might be public acknowledgement for some, while for others it might be a thoughtful gift or personal thank-you note.

3. Create a community

Above all, Ellet says, make appreciation a part of your company’s daily routine.

“Creating a culture together in your business where everyone has respect and love for one another — no matter how different everyone is — is a recipe for success,” she says.

employee-appreciation-day: company culture

A team that works well together thrives. Of course, in the world of modern business, creating a community in the workplace can be challenging. With the advent of remote work, the separation between departments, and other realities of the modern workplace, finding ways for employees to mingle and bond can work wonders for morale and productivity.

From simply encouraging cross-department interaction to arranging more casual workplace outings in a relaxed setting (food always helps!), bringing people together is key to establishing a healthy culture.

4. Communication is key

Employees can sometimes feel invisible or unimportant. One way to make them feel like valued members of the team is through clear, consistent communication.

Begin by making it a point to communicate regularly. From there, personalize your communication to the individual employees that make up your workplace family.

“Everyone communicates differently,” Ellet says. “A good idea is to host a team communication workshop and directly ask your employees how they prefer to communicate with each other and those outside your department.”

Don’t stop there, though. Ellet suggests designating an individual or small group that focuses on communication within the company and regularly assesses the way your team works together to communicate.

We’re seeing a shift from the almighty dollar ruling the way we appreciate our employees to people taking care of people. To really appreciate your employees, you need to shift the way you think about them and how you think about valuing them.

Kim Ellet

Owner, The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta

5. Understand your people

Viewing your employees as individuals and not just interchangeable links in the chain, so to speak, goes a long way toward creating a healthy work environment.

To Ellet, this means recognizing that everyone has their own “love language” as employees.

“Learn everyone’s own style,” Ellet suggests. “And if you don’t know it, ask them!”

Show your employees you appreciate them by surveying them about their work-environment love language, what they consider tokens of appreciation, and what connections they want to make.

“Connections make the difference,” Ellet says. “At the end of the day, an empty gesture won’t show your employees how much you value them year-round — but a special and meaningful one will.”

Author

Beginning her writing career as a print journalist, Hanna Marcus worked as a beat reporter and general assignment reporter in newsrooms throughout Florida including The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel, The Naples Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun. Now a full-time freelance writer, she writes for clients such as Hot Topic, New Balance, BoxLunch, and others.

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