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Filling job vacancies has become a critical challenge for many employers in a market that creates jobs faster than there is the skilled talent to fill them. For some businesses providing goods or services hangs in the balance based on how fast key positions are filled. Today to attract and retain top talent has become a critical priority.

The time is now to seek fresh and unique ways to stand out as a good place to work to prospective candidates and retain talent. One key strategy is through the building and nurturing of a culture of employee appreciation.

What does employee appreciation mean to you?
Many well-intended programs fall short of actual meaningful recognition that makes employees feel appreciated. If you think about it what does employee appreciate mean to you? Employee appreciation means to receive and give on a frequent basis, praise and recognition for their contributions to projects, tasks, and goals. The idea of appreciation goes beyond a quick thank you from the boss. Wouldn’t a team of employees celebrating the accomplishment together carry more weight towards feeling appreciated?

It is the employee experience in the workplace is what can set businesses apart in their ability to attract and retain talent. Employee appreciation goes beyond a supervisory “pat on the back.” Employees want to celebrate successes together, called social recognition.

Successful social recognition efforts foster a culture of shared celebrations. It creates an environment where employees are free to express appreciation and cheer for each other. Effective organizations make it easy and normal to express appreciation and celebrate early and frequently. Leaders can lead by example and model how social recognition is best used in the workplace and encourage peer to peer recognition.

What are some good incentives for employees?
There are incentives that can maximize a successful social recognition effort and encourage teamwork. There are many team and social-oriented incentives such as:
  • Themed team lunches
  • Tickets to community Gala events
  • Expressing appreciation to an employee in company meetings or on the intranet site
  • Ordering in lunch for the team
  • Throw a small party on work anniversaries, birthdays or when a specific goal is reached 
Or you can provide a way for the peer to peer accolades such as a bulletin board or internal electronic platform such as Assembly. Assembly is a peer to peer employee recognition platform where co-workers can easily recognize each other with meaningful messages and rewards (see features here).

How do you show appreciation to colleagues?
Sending thank-you notes or saying thank you to someone in a team meeting is always a good thing. The key to success is to be sincere, be specific and be consistent. You can do all this on a peer to peer recognition software such as Assembly (free for unlimited users). Here's some example messages might include:
  • I wanted to say thank you for helping me with this project. Our company is lucky to have you.
  • I want to say thanks for making the workplace a fun place to be.
  • I have learned so much from you. You are a great mentor.
  • Thank you for your invaluable input and for always pushing me to be the best I can be.
  • I want to congratulate you on a job well done on this project. Because of your expertise, it was a success.
  • I am proud to work with such a great team of people who continue to band together and accomplish great things! 
What is the difference between reward and recognition?
When businesses set out to implement a good employee appreciation program it is important to understand the difference between reward and recognition. Rewards are tangible items such as monetary, a certificate or plaques. Popular rewards also include gift cards, cash or perks such as time off. Simply handing out a reward is not the same thing as recognition.

Recognition is intangible but has meaning. It is priceless in value. Recognition is something to be experienced versus consumed. Recognition can be in the form of a verbal expression of appreciation or in email. Or a team example of recognition utilizing competition might be utilizing a leaderboard indicating top sales or customer service performers.

When done well implementing a social component in employee appreciation can have a lasting impact on organizational culture and employee engagement. Ultimately it can help with your ability to beat the talent shortage blues.

About the Author: Tresha Moreland
Tresha is an HR business advisor, author, and an avid writer for those who are serious about partnering for workplace excellence. She brings to the table nearly 30 years of demonstrated business leadership experience in designing and implementing HR strategies. She is the founder of HR C-Suite, a resource providing thought-leading workplace practices.

Check out Tresha's website here: www.hrcsuite.com