This Friday, March 5th is National Employee Appreciation Day. Every year on the first Friday of March, employers celebrate employees and thank them for their efforts throughout the year.

As a one-day event it can be an important part of building strong employee engagement – but only if it’s part of a year-long appreciation strategy.

In fact, true appreciation involves taking ongoing steps to support employees. It’s about ensuring your people feel valued and seen for who they are, not just what they do.

It’s important to differentiate between recognition and appreciation.

Recognition, a subcategory of appreciation, is generally reflected as positive feedback based on a specific performance or behaviour, whereas appreciation is about leaders building an authentic, trusting and caring relationship with employees.

Genuine appreciation is not something you can build overnight. This is especially true during a pandemic when much has changed in the employer-employee relationship.

So, what should HR leaders consider when it comes to building a culture of appreciation? How do employees want to be recognized right now? The HRPA spoke with Janet Candido, Principal and Founder of Candido Consulting Group Inc., who answered these questions, sharing 4 key tips for cultivating a culture of appreciation in the remote world.


1. Be Authentic

For many of us, March marks one year of working from home. That’s one year of dogs making an appearance in Zoom calls and trying to keep your kids out of your home office during an online meeting. We’ve had no choice but to share more of who we are with our colleagues – and leaders need to do the same: Be real, be authentic.

“In the beginning of the pandemic the focus for organizations was on how we’re going to get the work done. It was less about individuals,” says Janet, “But employers need to ensure that appreciation efforts don’t suffer anymore.” Part of that is taking the time to talk to employees about their lives – topics not related to work. Getting to know your team builds trust.

The other half of that is ensuring your employee appreciation strategy aligns with your organization’s culture. “For example, one of my clients gave all her employees a gratitude journal to show appreciation,” says Janet. “That fit in really well with their culture, but I can think of a lot of other companies where this gesture wouldn’t work.” 

2. Simplify Your Strategy

There are a ton of ways to show employees you care. However, the trick is not to try and fit it all into one yearlong plan. Janet’s advice: “You don’t have to try and jam it all in. Instead, make sure it’s something you can maintain.”

Appreciation efforts don’t have to be big and can be relatively inexpensive. Start small and measure its impact. Go back to the drawing board as needed to ensure that your strategies are meaningful to your employees.

At the end of the day, remember that appreciation is just about making sure your employees feel seen, heard and understood. This can mean making sure you consistently listen to employees and telling them what you value you about them.

3. Involve Your Employees

A big mistake HR leaders and managers can make when it comes to employee appreciation is not involving employees. People are our biggest assets and before designing a plan to appreciate them it would be wise to find out how they want to be thanked in the first place. “You want it to be something you do with them rather than you do to them,” says Janet. “After all, they know what’s meaningful to them and so when you involve employees, you’re more likely to develop something that really reaches them.”

Surveys and polls can work in this instance, or simply asking employees one-on-one how they want to be appreciated.

After that, continue to monitor your strategy’s effect on employee performance. Are they more engaged in meetings? How has this impacted their contributions to the company?

4. No One-Size Fits All Formula

People are unique. We all have different experiences and backgrounds, which means there’s not a “one size fits all formula” for thanking employees.

Some people would like a handwritten “thank you” note, others would prefer regular check-ins from their boss. Leaders can also use recognition strategies to highlight employees for a specific behaviour or reward employees with tickets to an event after hitting a certain goal.

This is where understanding your company culture and your employees is critical. “Or at best it’s a waste of time and money,” says Janet. “And at worst you have the opposite effect of what you’ve intended.”

As long as you continue to be authentic, simplify your strategy and involve employees in the process every step of the way, you’re sure to appreciate your employees in a way that feels personal and impactful to them.

Interviewee Bio:
Janet Candido ,Principal & Founder, Candido Consulting Group Inc.
Janet Candido

Principal & Founder, Candido Consulting Group Inc.

Janet is the Principal and Founder of Candido Consulting Group Inc.

Janet combines strong business and HR skills to help organizations achieve their strategic goals. A creative problem solver with over 20 years in the Human Resources field, Janet is an authority on workplace systems and culture, and applies her expertise to provide innovative solutions for clients. Her goal is to help organizations, executive teams and their employees reach optimal performance. Janet also puts her creativity to use as a 3D artist, and is a founding member of Toronto Art Visions, a non-profit community arts organization.

Janet Candido ,Principal & Founder, Candido Consulting Group Inc.
Janet Candido

Principal & Founder, Candido Consulting Group Inc.

Janet is the Principal and Founder of Candido Consulting Group Inc.

Janet combines strong business and HR skills to help organizations achieve their strategic goals. A creative problem solver with over 20 years in the Human Resources field, Janet is an authority on workplace systems and culture, and applies her expertise to provide innovative solutions for clients. Her goal is to help organizations, executive teams and their employees reach optimal performance. Janet also puts her creativity to use as a 3D artist, and is a founding member of Toronto Art Visions, a non-profit community arts organization.

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