Water Fights, Karaoke and Scrapbooks – 6 ways to make employees feel special on a budget.

Sunset High Five

Photo Courtesy of johnwiechecki on Flickr

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou, Author

Making others feel good is not just a nice thing to do, but it makes you feel good too. Showing your employees and coworkers that you appreciate them inspires motivation and improves morale and productivity within a company. Giving worthwhile recognition is not dependent on the amount of money you spend, recognition is about sincerely appreciating the hard work others do and really meaning it when you say “thank you”. You can’t put a price on memories.

Here are a few Low Cost Recognition Ideas, as well as a Recognition Playlist to get you inspired and spreading the love.

1.  Greet employees every morning, reinforcing the message “I’m glad you’re here.”  It may sound corny, but that’s okay – your job isn’t to win popularity contests, its to make your employees and coworkers feel special.

2. Organize a department-wide water-gun fight in the parking lot in their honor. It’s unusual, it’s fun, employees will remember it for a long time.  Super soakers for employees, tiny water guns for managers – think about it.

3. Let them park in your parking space for a week.  Often times, it’s the little things that make people feel special.  Don’t have a parking space? Buy them a weekly pass at a nearby garage.

4. Put together a scrapbook of memories for an employee who is celebrating a milestone anniversary. Give each person on the team a blank page to fill out with stories or pictures of their experiences with that employee. Then, after the public recognition moment, the individual has not only a treasured award from the company but something from their coworkers that captures their feelings.

5. Create a homemade fun award that is appropriate to what is being recognized. MeritShare provides a fun way to give out virtual awards to your employees and peers that can be humorous yet meaningful.  Customize an award to your company culture, make it fun for people to give and receive!

6. Gather co-workers to sing a light-hearted rendition of a song such as “You Light Up My Life,” “We Are the Champions,” etc.  We put together an employee recognition playlist for you.  If you do this, be sure to record it and put it on Youtube – then send us the link.  Seriously. 

Recognition Playlist:

Employee Appreciation Day

Happy employee appreciation day! Employee appreciation day first showed up in 1995 on calendars. According to SHRM’s “WeKnowNext” blog, Dr. Bob Nelson started the holiday on the first Friday in March, with the first edition of his book “1001 Ways To Reward Employees”. WeKnowNext says:

Dr. Nelson didn’t just want March 1st to be the only day of celebration, he says ” employees should be valued all year round, especially when they have performed well, but the first step is raising awareness about the importance of recognition on the part of every manager Employee Appreciation Day has helped serve that purpose”.

One of the best ways to drive awareness and motivate action is through a great visual based on data. Travis Pearl, co-founder of MeritShare thought it would be fun to provide a data visualization of employee appreciation day, so he created a real-time heat map that shows thanks and recognition given on MeritShare’s network. You can see the real-time heat map for the US here.

MeritShare’s appreciation heat map is a data visualization demonstrating the future of employee recognition: data-driven, real-time, and shared. Peer-recognition has already democratized recognition; we are now taking this one step further by using the metrics from this activity to measure engagement and performance. Just like democracy is powered by votes, engagement should be measured by action. MeritShare has a recognition index that companies can track their performance over time and against averages by industry and peer groups. I believe the future of recognition will become more data-driven with metrics that can lead to decisions and action. Online recognition also allows for instant recognition, the more timely the better. Web-based systems also make sharing of information easier, this along with the increasing transparency giving company recognition the opportunity to leave the corporate firewall and swim in the social media streams and world wide web.. Not all companies will let their recognition hang out, but some will. In fact, many of the companies that use MeritShare want the world to see their peer-based recognition shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-in to help them with their recruiting efforts.

With this heat map created by my co-founder of MeritShare in honor of Dr. Nelson and employee appreciation day, I see the future of employee recognition: democratized, data-driven, real-time, and shared.

Let’s turn up the heat on recognition, you can get started on MeritShare instantly and at no charge.