How Great Workplaces Say Thanks

Posted by Tabitha Russell on March 14 2014

tabitha-russell By Tabitha Russell

While some companies dote on their workers on Employee Appreciation Day, celebrating what makes their success possible (their people), great workplaces make their employees feel valued every day, and not just for their financial contributions to the business. 

We’ve heard lots of great stories about how companies show employees they care in our We ♥ Our Workplace video contest – from fun staff parties to in-office rock climbing walls to pancake breakfasts, companies have found some truly creative ways to express their gratitude.

While saying thanks can be as simple as, well, saying thanks, formal appreciation and recognition programs at great workplaces have some common qualities that tie them together. 

They’re personal. It feels good to be acknowledged as an individual – like people are making the effort to get to know you. For example, rather than receiving a generic gift card, a great manager might find out what an employee’s favorite restaurant or shop is, and present them with a gift certificate along with a thank you note. For the same cost, they build a more personable relationship.

They’re specific. Getting positive feedback on a specific accomplishment shows employees the company is interested in their unique contributions, and encourages the behaviors and attributes they should put into their work.

They’re all-inclusive. Not everyone works on the front-lines of a project. Recognizing the role that people and teams who aren’t client-facing play is important in giving them a sense of ownership and pride in your business.

They’re reinforced by leadership. Peer-to-peer recognition is great, but is leadership intentionally creating a culture of thanks by taking the time to reach out and thank teams, business units or the entire company?

Here are some of the ways our great workplaces say thanks to their employees.

Whole Foods Market

The company has a permanent “Appreciations” agenda item in meetings (including board meetings), reinforcing the importance of recognizing colleagues’ efforts and contributions whenever possible. Whole Foods believes that publicly acknowledging team members’ hard work is crucial in creating a better working atmosphere for all. Whole Foods says that voluntarily expressing gratitude for coworkers’ thoughtfulness and helpfulness is a transformative practice that “releases more love” throughout the company.

Southern Ohio Medical Center

New employees at Southern Ohio Medical Center receive individualized recognition with the help of a “Bio Sheet” that they fill out when they’re hired. The sheet asks them about their hobbies, interests, family, favorite snacks, and also how they like to be recognized (not everyone likes shout-outs in big meetings!). The sheet gets uploaded to an employee portal, so managers and coworkers can find out how to thank their teammates in a way that’s meaningful.  

Professional Placement Resources 

Professional Placement Resources fosters a culture of gratitude (that extends to clients as well). On Thank You Thursdays, the CEO asks employees to send a specific number of thank you notes to both internal and external customers. Recognition and appreciation are standard fare in all great workplaces, and creating a custom to deliberately cultivate a culture of thanking reinforces this as a priority.

Tabitha Russell is Great Place to Work’s Content Marketing Manager.