Today, March 4th, is International Employee Appreciation Day.
Now, there are a lot of international ‘holidays’ out there, and obviously some of them are quite clearly insane. Yesterday, for example, was What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day. No, really. The chances are, you didn’t spend yesterday contemplating what life would be like if your dog could hold a spoon, and that’s probably for the best. But some days are worthy of our attention and, now more than ever, Employee Appreciation Day is one of them.
Why is employee appreciation day more important than ever?
Because of the ******* pandemic, that’s why. (Pass the swear jar). Covid has disrupted the workplace in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Businesses and employees are having to come to terms with hybrid working, rapid staff turnover, and levels of stress and anxiety that were unthinkable two years ago.
According to Forbes, “in the past, employers and bosses could have let this day go by without even realising it. But the dynamic changes brought on by the Great Resignation, Great Reshuffle or, if you prefer, the War for Talent, have lent new importance to the valuable role every employee plays in the success of an organisation."
It’s never been more important to show your workforce that they are valued, and to look after their wellbeing. In the first place, it is the responsible, caring, morally right thing to do. Of course, businesses still need to concentrate on the bottom line, and there’s no point in investing huge amounts of cash in buying every one of your employees a super yacht if you’re going to have to lay them all off the following week as a result of your largesse.
But, if properly selected and implemented, a proper scheme to look after your employees won’t just make them feel valued, it will offer a very good return on investment. “If employees don’t feel accepted or appreciated, they’ll walk,” continues Forbes. “But on the flip side, new research by Workhuman has found that people who were thanked at work in the last month are only half as likely to be looking for a new job. They’re also three times more likely to see a path to grow within the organisation.”
“Every organisation today is striving to recruit and retain great employees. And perhaps the best investment they can make in those efforts is to evaluate how they recognise the employees who make it all possible. Given all the challenges everyone has been through over the past two years, your team deserves that kind of thanks and recognition.” In short, a warm glass of Blue Nun or a paperweight just won’t cut the mustard. Companies need to step up and show that they care. In turn, your workforce will be happier and more productive. According to US-based employee wellbeing provider Limeade, “When employees feel supported by their employer, they’re 17 percent more likely to still be there in a year. In order to increase employee retention, focus on employees’ engagement and well-being — and always put your people first… We know that when a company invests in the well-being of employees, they’re more engaged. And more engaged employees, means better business results.”
According to the O.C. Tanner Institute, “By showing employees that they are valued, you increase employee engagement, boost employee morale, become an even greater place to work, and build a company culture where employees thrive. When employees feel appreciated, there is an 84% decrease in the chance they will experience burnout.”
The Harvard Business Review published a meta-analysis of multiple studies that showed an average of 31% more productivity and 37% more sales when employees reported being happy/satisfied at work.
But how do companies ensure their staff are happy at work?
Once upon a time, a couple of beanbags and a ping pong table was all it took for a company to be lauded as a great employer. But now things are different. The world has changed. The workforce is often stressed. Covid anxiety has been added to, by a dramatic upturn in the cost of living, not to mention worries about war in Europe.
And hybrid working, while welcomed by many, presents a whole new raft of challenges. In a recent global study by Tinypulse, more than 80% of people leaders reported that such a set-up was exhausting for employees. Another study found 20% of UK workers reported difficulties switching off from work and feeling ‘always on’; struggling to adapt to hybrid, and the permeable boundaries between home and work, was cited as a major factor.
If you can find a way to solve the cost-of-living crisis and eliminate Covid forever, that would be great. But we’re guessing that might be a bit much to ask for a Friday afternoon. Instead, then, you can help your staff through these turbulent times by looking after their wellbeing. A scheme that helps workers to feel less stressed, more on top of things, and in better shape physically and mentally, is just about the most important thing an employer can do just now.
This is where a programme like BuddyBoost can help. BuddyBoost is a proven employee wellbeing tool, where participants commit to doing at least 26 minutes of physical activity for 26 days in a month. They form into groups of buddies in the BuddyBoost app and support each another to complete the challenge. Participants rate their mood after exercise, and the data from thousands of participants shows that on average people get a 25% mood boost from the programme. And because the programme is app-based, users can access it wherever they are working – ideal for a hybrid workplace. And nothing makes employees feel more valued than being told to step away from their desks during the working day and go and do something for themselves.
Furthermore, a key aspect of the BuddyBoost experience is that it strengthens camaraderie and fosters a strong team spirit among co-workers. Everyone taking part in a BuddyBoost challenge stays in touch on their company’s private community feed, posting messages and photos, boosting engagement and sense of unity. This fosters a spirit of open engagement in a company that will inevitably boost morale and workplace satisfaction, improve colleague bonds, and strengthen employee loyalty. One BuddyBoost user, Simon, reported back: “I found BuddyBoost to be a real conversation starter with people I hadn’t really spoken to before. That was great and helps with work issues as it breaks down barriers.”
It's not just about one day
Of course, it’s Employee Appreciation Day today, so it might be a little bit late to implement a wellbeing programme before 5pm. But, actually, the idea of Employee Appreciation Day itself is analogous to a healthy working practice. HR Consultancy Intoo points out: “The need for a National Day maybe misses the point somewhat… The need for an ‘official day’ suggests, that as businesses, we are falling short in some way of regularly recognising and rewarding the exceptional value our employees deliver on a regular basis. Whilst having a national day to show our appreciation for the people that drive our businesses forward is a great initiative, we need to think about how we do this the other 364 days of the year.”
The HR software provider myhrtoolkit agrees: “Will marking one day out of the year to appreciate employees really help companies? It can certainly be a good start, but employee appreciation should be year-round for businesses to really feel the benefits of improved engagement as one of your key staff retention strategies.”
BuddyBoost is a wellbeing programme that will help your employees feel better about themselves, and about the company they work for. Another satisfied participant told us: “It says a lot [about his employer]. It says they care about their staff, their health and wellbeing, their mental health. It just shows they’re true to their word – they do care.”
In a competitive job market, and with a mentally drained workforce facing new challenges and working practices, employee appreciation shouldn’t be limited to a day. So why not implement an Employee Appreciation Year. It runs for the next 365 days, after which, the next Employee Appreciation Year will start. Your staff, your conscience, and your bottom line will all thank you for it.