It’s almost the end of the month—and the end of the year! Perhaps your organization has already hosted a holiday party or celebration of some sort. ABR President & CEO Amy Fox hosted a gathering at her home last week for those of us who are Cincinnati-based. We love any chance to get face to face, and after-hours gatherings are certainly the most enjoyable.
For company owners and organizational leaders, this really IS an ideal time of year to celebrate your employees. Sure, there are plenty of priorities competing for your time and attention, such as wrapping up projects, ensuring a strong finish to Q4, and properly thanking the clients who have supported you. But intentionally and thoughtfully recognizing your dedicated employees for a job well done this year should be at the top of your list.
According to the 2015 Employee Recognition Report by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce, employee recognition significantly contributes to bottom-line organizational metrics and helps foster a stronger culture. Of the 823 HR professionals who took part in the survey, 90 percent said that employee recognition positively impacted engagement, and 86 percent said that it increased employee happiness.
The report also states that the top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning. One of the reasons for this is a strengthening job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 5.4 million job openings in April 2015, the most in 15 years. And for the first time since the Bureau started tracking openings in 2000, employers reported more job openings than hires. Many workers could be feeling comfortable enough to see what other options are out there.
Companies need to take action in an effort to retain their most treasured employees in the coming year. One of the ways they can do this is simply by celebrating with them. Let’s face it: work isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s downright HARD. But if you have an organizational culture that makes a genuine effort to acknowledge the hard work and celebrate the positives, employees will be more motivated and resilient during the challenging times.
I can attest to this—I feel very fortunate that the leadership at ABR, for instance, is intentional about celebrating successes and recognizing and rewarding employees. But I was once with a company where senior leadership made very little effort to engage with, let alone reward and recognize, employees. When I started there, festive holiday gatherings and even employee bonuses were the norm this time of year; but little by little traditions changed, such that by the time I left, the only end-of-year acknowledgement from leadership was in the form of a mass “Happy Holidays” email from the CEO to all employees. Not very motivating. And I wasn’t the only person who left—most of my very talented colleagues eventually found better opportunities as well, at places where they felt more appreciated.
So how should you recognize and celebrate employees? This time of year, a traditional holiday party is a great option. Taking some time to pause, express gratitude, and share successes face to face can lift a team’s spirits and create opportunities for employees to connect with you and each other in new ways. For remote teams or situations in which it’s difficult to get together in person, recognition is just as essential. A few ideas for celebrating remotely: a beautiful vase of fresh flowers delivered to an employee’s house; a handwritten note and a gift card; or hosting a virtual happy hour over a conference call in which successes are celebrated and employees are formally recognized.
Showing appreciation for employees and nurturing a supportive work environment helps to build a camaraderie that leads to higher employee morale and ensures that your most valued people will want to stay with you. It can also increase productivity, as people who feel appreciated are simply more committed to the organization and invested in its success. The best leaders know that celebrating is not only an opportunity to give back to employees—it is a way to strengthen the organizational bond that will drive future success. If you foster a culture that truly values its people and demonstrates this in authentic ways, you will have loyal employees and deeper relationships within your organization.
Happy holidays from all of us at ABR, and happy celebrating!