Updated: Mar 21
We have a confession: our team has mixed feelings about Employee Appreciation Day, which will be observed on March 3 this year. As experts who help our clients communicate more proactively and intentionally with their employees, of course we love the sentiment around appreciating workers. But in our view, every day should be Employee Appreciation Day.
Not sure you agree? Consider the fact that only 21% of employees are engaged in their jobs* – there’s clearly A LOT of room for improvement when it comes to companies truly appreciating their people, which is a key driver of engagement. And that simply can’t be accomplished in a day. It needs to be an everyday focus from leaders at all levels.
While there are many ways to show appreciation for your employees, our team is best positioned to share the many ways you can use communication to accomplish this goal, so let’s do just that:
Communicate from their viewpoint, not yours. The number one rule in communication is to know your audience. When it’s time to share information, approach it from the standpoint of your employees, not the company. Simple tweaks to the framing of the message and the timing of when you communicate can accomplish this, making your employees not only feel seen and heard (read: appreciated!) but also ensuring your message actually resonates.
Help them know their work matters. When employees understand the company’s strategy and how they directly contribute to helping the company win, they’ll understand the value of their work. This is the biggest gap my team sees across organizations who haven’t historically focused on communication, and they’re not alone: Did you know only 5% of U.S. employees understand their company’s business strategy**? Communicate a clear direction and equip your people managers to help their teams understand their role in bringing the strategy to life.
Be transparent. Your employees are smart – that’s why you hired them, right? Don’t forget that intelligence when it comes time to communicate. Employees know when you’re not telling the full story… or worse, are leaving them in the dark entirely on key topics. Share what you can, when you can. If there’s something you can’t disclose, say so and explain why. If you don’t know something, admit that and let them know when you’ll circle back with an answer. This level of transparency goes a long way to making employees feel appreciated.
Be visible. As a leader, you’re busy and it’s easy to get stuck behind closed office doors with your head down. Don’t forget to interact with as many employees as possible, as often as possible. Listen to what they’re working on, get their feedback on how things are going, and thank them for all they do.
It’s ok – throw a party! While employee appreciation should be on the agenda every day, it’s ok to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day itself. Donuts, lunch, happy hour… whatever fits in best with your culture. Again, just be sure it doesn’t feel like a random, one-off effort that only comes once a year, because something like that can actually do more harm than good.
*Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report 2022 | **Harvard Business Review