It seems pretty obvious: when someone feels appreciated, they’re more likely to be loyal to their team. Check out these stats from a poll conducted by Maritz Research: Employees who are recognized on the job are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with the company, and 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to the company.
You can’t argue with those numbers.
But how do you actually create a sense of community and recognition within your team? We’ve compiled five research-backed ways to let your staff know that you’ve got their back:
When people are scattered all over the office—or around the world—it can be difficult to show appreciation. Enter: the magic of “celebration” Slack channels. This is a place for people to brag about their latest deal, share team photos, and recognize anyone’s amazing efforts.
Sound silly? The Harvard Business Review has conducted a ton of research on what creates a positive work culture, and they boiled it down to six things:
Creating a virtual space to acknowledge each other checks off a lot of those boxes. It allows you to let people know that you care about their accomplishments, think their work is meaningful, and support them in their growth. Try it out for a week, and see how it goes. You might be surprised by how much gratitude is shown!
Of course, gratitude shouldn’t be limited to the online realm. Why not start your meetings with some appreciation, as well? Even the most bland gathering can feel special when it starts with everyone acknowledging something positive that another team member did for them that week.
Ray Cheng heads up marketing at Convene, and he recently had his team start sharing gratitude with team members during their weekly planning meetings. “Growing up in Catholic school, I learned very early on that a simple thank you goes a long way towards being a respectable human being,” says Cheng. “At Convene, I’ve learned that a thoughtful expression of gratitude goes an even longer way towards building a great culture. Our team has adopted the practice of weekly gratitude not only as a better means to reflect on who has helped us become more productive and successful, but also a way for us to remind ourselves that we are all players a team sport.”
If you’re up for it, employee recognition can also take place on a bigger scale. Try offering some surprise swag to an employee who goes above and beyond, or featuring team members who are crushing it on your company Instagram. Not only will this make your brand more human, it will help your employees feel like they’re part of a team that truly cares about them. (Hootsuite does a great job of this.)
Hearing that you’re doing solid work feels great—and is even better when the person offering the compliment is specific.
The Harvard Business Review provides a great example: “‘You were so inspiring’ or ‘I loved your final pitch’ isn’t specific enough. Tell Carmen that her well-organized tables in part 2 helped you realize that the team’s new project is actually an extension of the previous one.”
A compliment like that is a double-hitter: It makes the employee feel great about their work, and highlights what behavior you’d like them to continue to do in the future.
A great way to strengthen your company’s community is by combining two worlds—your staff’s personal and professional lives. After all, you probably see your colleagues more often than their own family (That’s a harsh reality, right?). But, hey! You might as well meet the people who your staff are closest to, and give them the opportunity to learn a little about you at the same time!
Sprout Social accomplishes this by having a monthly all-hands meeting, followed by a dinner for friends and family. As Alicia Johnston, the company’s brand communications manager, said in an interview with MOO, “It’s a great opportunity to connect with coworkers on a deeper, more personal level… Our motto is ‘Open communication creates progress.’”
Goal-setting is a solid way for your employees to monitor their progress throughout the year. Yet if this process isn’t done carefully, the markers can lack meaning. Instead of focusing on KPIs alone, encourage your team to think about their personal development goals, as well. This could include new skills, a larger list of contacts, or trying something that’s entirely outside of their job description. This will provide your employees with a sense of accomplishment, since they’re the ones who are creating their milestones.
As MOO says on their blog, “Amazing companies motivate their employees by helping them understand how they want their job to progress. That’s why great managers give their team space to explore their career path.” Who knows? Bringing someone into a meeting with a different team, or giving them an afternoon off to attend a conference, could totally reshape their career trajectory in a positive way.