It's become obvious that companies must engage and motivate employees if they want to keep them. Research shows this is especially true of younger employees from Generation Y and Z. Employee appreciation can be difficult to demonstrate in larger companies, though. Being lost in the crowd isn't exactly an exciting, engagement feeling. But here are some employee appreciation ideas for large companies to keep the work experience personal and meaningful.
Gift card rewards
You can't take every employee out for coffee. But you can give them a gift card to that one coffee shop that means a lot to them, personally. Then they'll have warm and fuzzy feelings about your company when they curl up with their nitro cold brew and a good book.
A day off that creates buzz
A random day off not only makes employees feel appreciated, it can get people talking about your company. Observe:
"You're off work today? What for?"
"It's Reggie's birthday!"
"The office labradoodle."
That's definitely more interesting than Columbus Day and will get your company in people's heads! The buzz generates a positive image for your brand or organization, leading to those oh-so important word-of-mouth referrals.
Reward points program
A reward points program is more flexible and fun than cash rewards. With an online reward points system, you can tie employee rewards to overall company goals and keep track of how well they're working. You can also "brand" your reward points, like your own private company crypto-currency. Call them "Acme Gold Coins," for example, to reinforce appreciation and recognition from your company.
The human brain loves unexpected rewards. These type of rewards cause us to sit up and pay attention because they indicate a change in our environment, or the promise of excitement. They have a big psychological impact. As the smart brain-scientists say,
“In theories of basic learning, this degree of unexpectedness or surprise is important because it represents the new, unforeseen information that the brain must somehow incorporate into its model of ‘what happens next.”
Your employees are the reason for your success. What better way to show your appreciation for them than to remind them of this fact? When you share a portion of your company profits with employees, it sends the message that they have a stake in your company's well-being. Profit-sharing is one of the best ways to put your money where your mouth is in terms of valuing and appreciating your employees.
As the Harvard Business Review puts it,
"The company offers something for free, such as shares, in anticipation of worker reciprocation in the form of additional effort. These feelings of reciprocity are often linked to perceptions of fairness and justice underpinning the exchange between labor and rewards, and they can generate organizational commitment and loyalty in a way that a simple bonus or raise cannot."
Unique employee perks and benefits
This one is along the same lines as the random day off suggestion. As they say, actions speak louder than words. You can hang up all the poignant motivational posters and drill Yoda quotes into employees' heads as much as you want, but it's useless if employee appreciation isn't reflected in company benefits and employee perks. If you support employee wellness, for example, offer nutrition programs and gym memberships. Offer unique perks that show what you're about. This RecruiterBox article points out some of the more interesting, trend-setting employee perks out there, such as no dress code, pet insurance, nap rooms and adoption assistance.
Here's a lesson straight from a couple's therapy session: transparency builds trust. Be transparent with your employees and they will feel appreciated and valued by you. Be clear about your goals and expectations. Assume that your employees are invested in your success and help them understand your plans to achieve that success. According to Psychology Today,
“Management transparency has an extremely high correlation coefficient of .937 with employee happiness. The cost of improving transparency is almost zero, but requires an ongoing dialogue between management and staff. We see an increasing number of companies using transparency to attract and retain top talent.”
The great news is that there's no end to the list of employee appreciation ideas for large companies. As your Kindergarten teacher would say, your only limit is your imagination. Don't be afraid to try new things. Some employee appreciation ideas that may seem counter-productive or costly at first actually end up saving you money and improving your company culture in the long run.