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How do you say "Thank you" to employees?

In a popular discussion on the SHRM group’s LinkedIN page, HR experts shared their favorite ways of saying Thank You to employees. From the 100+ comments, some themes and favorites emerged:

 Make it personal and say it in person, if you can

  • Look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and say “thank you” in person. (Rita Olsen)  Send an email CCing their direct report. (Adam Lieber)
  • If someone works remotely a phone call, pick up the phone and call them to say thanks.
  • Have a stash of Thank You cards in your office, as tangible cards have much more meaning than emails. (Stacie Dumond)
  • Write a Thank You Letter (Florence Obusingye)
  • I send chocolate bars and hand written thank you notes! (Michele Robbins)
  • Create a certificate with their name, saying we appreciate everything you do. [having it signed by the CEO is a nice touch] (Judith Griffin)

Say it with regularity

  • Make it a daily ritual
    • Demonstrate appreciation by being genuine all the time — Come in early to say “good morning” with a smile; stay late enough to big them each a “good evening”; throughout the day, acknowledge their contributions. (Wardell Sullivan)
    • I write emails, notes, and do “little surprises” for my staff that I know that they will appreciate (money to get their favorite candy bar, bringing in donuts). My department wouldn’t run effectively without my team and I want to continually make sure that they feel valued. (Anna Reilly)
  • Have a weekly meeting
    • My office loves pizza parties on Fridays (Bernadette Brown) or institute “Fresh Fruit Fridays.” (Susan Landay)
    • In our weekly supervisors/managers meeting I recently started asking for examples of specific, sincere appreciation this group has given to their employees. The goal is to make them more intentional in their approach to individual praise. (Sandra Fuller)
    • Try Employee Appreciation Friday. We give away $25.00 gift cards by random drawing every Friday at lunch time. The employee put their name in the drawing and the President pulls 8 names and each gets a gift card. (Pamela Hurd)
  • Have a monthly meeting
    • My department head (Director of HR) always drops off little note cards saying “Happy Month that just started, I appreciate all that you do.” Before we adjourn monthly staff meetings, our manager highlights all of the success for the previous month and expresses her appreciation. (Ezechiel Dezine)
    • Choose a different event to hold each month: even something like “Vote for your favorite new Lays flavor Day” and then buying all the employees bags of chips to try can make an impact. Have a chili cook off between departments. Ice cream truck day; all employees get to go out and get free ice cream. (Justin Jonas)
    • Have upper management recognize employees who have exceeded their monthly objectives. The names of these individuals are placed into a drawing for the parking spot closest to the entrance. (Kristy Brass)
  • Create a quarterly tradition
    • Quarterly, I take my department out for sushi, to decompress and get to know each other! (Paula Sahin)
    • Each quarter we recognize the employee who has gone “Above and Beyond” and had the most impact on the company. Nominees are presented and the Leadership team votes for the winner.  (BJ Johnson)
  • Have an annual Employee Appreciation Day – this can involve a picnic, ice cream truck, bean bag toss competitions, prizes and give-aways,
  • Give your employees a generous employee discount on your product/service (Jimmy Proffitt)

Make it public

  • Put your thanks in writing and share it with the individual’s direct supervisor (David McKale)
  • Champion employees’ extra effort at meetings, in company communications, and email. Make it part of the organization’s culture — from the top down.  (John Groth)
  • Whatever you do, keep a record of it for the employee’s performance appraisal (Charlene Bayne, M.A.)
  • Send an email company-wide if an employee “hits a home run.” (Carl Slicer)
  • To promote core values, we have a Core Value Award program where employees can be rewarded with a certificate and gift card for behavior that demonstrates our core values. (Christina Holthe)
  • When giving praise, share the “who, what, where, when and how” —  i.e. “Who?” Brenda. “What?” Kept the customer calm. “Where and when? At the morning meeting today. “How?” By listening and finding out … “Why?” “That was a really valuable because…” (Jennifer Metcalfe)

Create Peer-to-Peer Recognition programs

  • Have a way for colleagues to thank one another by making thank you cards available to all (Ashi Anjum)
  • Create a Google Form that employees can use to submit “thank you notes” to colleagues. They can sign their name or remain anonymous. These responses are collected on a Google spreadsheet and we send out an email containing the message to the employee being recognized and copy their manager. We provide a $100 giftcard to each of the employees. (Reena Rai)
  • Institute a kudos card program
    • Managers, supervisors and employees are encouraged to recognize one another for the little day to day successes by completing a kudos card. The colorful cards are about the size of a business card and say “Thank You”, “You Saved My Bacon”, “Rock Star”, “You’re Awesome”, etc. on one side and the other side has a place to list the details of the kudos.
    • The completed cards are then pinned to a large bulletin board in the break room.
    • On the last day of the month I collect all the cards and the Leadership Team votes on the top two kudos of the month and a third is drawn randomly from the remaining cards.
    • Winners receive a gift certificate and are named in a company-wide email. (Ivy M)
  • Thank You cards/ Wow cards work great in peer-peer relationships. (Vandana Gundumalla)
  • We have a points based peer-to-peer recognition program that allows anyone to show appreciation for helping to solve a problem, great ideas or even for being nice. Points are used to shop online for items that the individual selects themselves. Management uses this same tool as well as HR for rewarding particular initiatives. (Geri Labonte)
  • With our “Pat on the Back” program, staff can recommend a colleague to be recognized for acts of service both small & large. These are acknowledged with a firm-wide email loaded with accolades movie tickets for the recipient. (Beth Kallio)

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