Appreciating your unique teammates in unique ways to optimize retention, engagement & productivity

 

As strategists, especially when we’re in the startup world, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We want to use evidence-based practices and constantly check our progress with data, metrics and KPIs. When it comes to people, some things are not so black and white – their needs and motivations are all different shades of gray. Therefore, ways to recognize them are not one-size-fits all, meaning each employee will need something different to stay in the job, to remain engaged, and to be productive, according to a study from Walden University’s College of Management and Technology earlier this year. Ways to recognize them are even more tough if your team is remote.

In comes the trend of personalized employee recognition. C-Suite need to consider that not all employees FEEL recognized by the same things. One may love to be part of the growing team. Another may like to share their ideas and feel heard. Yet another might really enjoy happy hours and holiday parties. And the remaining employees might like praise, a hand-written note, or a massage, respectively.

Building on the popular book of Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, which explores how you can show your mate they are loved, now Appreciation at Work is looking at how signs of appreciation (instead of love) are felt differently by different people in the workplace.

Words of affirmation: regular one-on-one, and public recognition such as sending an email highlighting a win or simply saying “Thank you” or “I appreciate what you did – it was a huge help.”

Acts of service: team efforts such as support during a project or group trainings and opportunities for professional development. 

Quality time: team building such as in-person team events and/ or virtual happy hours. 

Gifts: using rewards to recognize employees such as personalized gift cards or hand-written notes.

Physical: encourage feedback opportunities such as consistent 1-on-1 meetings with employees. If they can’t be in person – they should be held via zoom with the camera on, to nurture this one. Fistpumps, high-fives and hugs (real or emojis) fall under this one.

If you don’t know how your team members feel appreciated or can’t get them to take the quiz right away, consider the trends based on data gathered at SurveyMonkey.com:

Most people feel appreciated with Gifts (33%) and Words of Affirmation (32%).

While words are more straightforward, gifts might still be a challenge. One company called PERKS, is looking at how to personalize digital gift cards for employees, using these three examples:

A working mom might appreciate childcare (Care.com), meditation (a Headspace membership), and snacks (Pressed Juicery).

A career guy might most appreciate tools (a laptop stand), training (an Audible membership), and Fitness classes (Crunch Live membership).

Finally, a digital nomad might most appreciate a flexible workspace (WeWork Pass), personal development (Duolingo membership) and experiences (Lonely Planet guides).

So remember that people are complicated, but with a little observation and planning, you can show them they are appreciated, in order to optimize retention, engagement, and productivity – even in a remote and/or growing team.

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