In the wake of the pandemic and the ensuing “Great Resignation” more and more people are approaching work through a new lens. With 87% of employers having experienced challenges with recruitment and 70% of employers facing issues with retention in 2021 itself, it is imperative to employ a people first strategy.1 Prioritizing holistic well-being, work-life balance employee recognition are the hallmarks of this shift. As we mark Employee Appreciation Day on March 4, 2022, the time is ripe for HR professionals like yourself to reflect on the needs of today’s workers. Indeed, employee appreciation is not limited to one day alone, and should be woven in throughout the year on an ongoing basis.

In other words, having employee appreciation integrated into your company’s total rewards program in an intentional, meaningful way, that is responsive to employee expectations is important and even necessary. Today, employee recognition can take various forms, depending on your organizational and broader context and the nature of employment and employees’ own value systems. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, employee recognition should be customized and personalized to meet the needs and interests of all employees in your workplace.

The onus is on HR professionals to devise nimble and comprehensive employee recognitions and rewards strategies. Some key principles informing such strategies include emphasizing holistic professional relationships and viewing work as far more than just a paycheck, but also ideally a source of purpose, motivation and drive. Employee recognition tools that build on this would encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work and would equip employees with agency in fulfilling job tasks.

Another integral employee recognition mechanism that you can wield is to support employees’ ability to meet the demands of life outside of work. In your workplace, this can look like instituting a flexible working hours policy, facilitating time off work, running wellness-at-work initiatives, making room for mindfulness and meditation and encouraging employees to take charge of their health and well-being. Creating opportunities for employees’ successes to be shared widely within their team or organization and through social media platforms is yet another way you and your department can practice employee appreciation.

Moreover, workplace programs that empower employees to further their professional development and career progression walk the talk of employee appreciation. From mentorship opportunities to team-building sessions, the possibilities you can implement are endless. In fact, flexible working options and learning and development opportunities are popular retention initiatives that your colleagues in HR are spearheading across industries.1 Other popular ways to consider showing employees that they are valued include enabling workers to recognize their peers’ contributions, organizing employee-directed community service events or days, and last but not least, issuing gift cards geared towards employees’ interests.

Overall, remember that employee recognition should be based on feedback from employees themselves. It is of the essence for you to ask employees what value recognition options would work best for them and following through to ensure that employees feel heard. This is echoed in the Josh Bersin Report, which states that employee experience will continue to rise in importance throughout 2022.1 This means that employees are increasingly seeking work environments that are growth oriented, inclusive, supportive and willing to listen to them.1 So, implementing employee feedback is vital to ensure employee recognition efforts are authentic and not tokenistic or superficial. Finally, as the world of work has shifted to virtual or hybrid formats, employee appreciation mechanisms must also evolve to keep up with employee engagement in fully or partially online environments.

Footnote 1: View the HRPA 2021 HR Trends Report