How Will You Show Appreciation in 2023?


How do your team members show appreciation for each other? At some organizations, they might write words of praise on an elevator poster. In other companies, co-​workers might join together and pay for a surprise lunch for a team member who has worked far above and beyond expectations. Leaders have also instituted formal programs at some organizations. And they allocate funds for team members to recognize each other with a monetary appreciation bonus. As we start a new year, it’s worth asking what companies want to accomplish with their appreciation programs and how they can achieve these goals.

How to Show Appreciation Through Programs That Matter

Your team members like to know that their daily work makes a difference. You might think that regularly paying them as promised and a random cubicle drop-​by for a fist-​bump are sufficient ways to show appreciation. It’s not. Paul White states that “words aren’t enough.” Why? In some cases, employees don’t believe what they are being told. Because of personal or work experiences, they could be skeptical.

Your team members might not see any value in your words because they think that the effort didn’t cost you much. It’s not like you offered to let them leave early to catch their kid’s soccer game, which is a perk they might really want.

If you send out a group email to your employees to thank them for the team effort in meeting a critical deadline, don’t count on making an impact. The team member who worked nights and weekends to make sure the deadline was met may harbor a grudge after receiving your group email. It won’t seem fair that the person who did the least amount of work receives the same amount of praise as they did. At the very least, send out a personalized email. Let each team member know how much you appreciate one thing that they did on the project. This kind of recognition lets them know you are paying attention.

What Employees Want

A better way to show appreciation is to offer what employees want most. Other than money, our survey of sales professionals revealed that the following rewards matter:

  • Professional development opportunities 40%
  • Unexpected drink/​sandwich/​sweet treat 38%
  • Time off (such as a pass for leaving early) 47%
  • Being recognized in front of your peers 32%
  • Experiential rewards (concerts, lunch with CEO) 26%

It’s always a good idea to use an assessment platform to understand what motivates your employees. With that information, you’ll know whether a cash bonus, or a different reward, will make the biggest impact. Hint: In many cases, your team member will appreciate the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree or some other type of professional credentials or certification.

Financial Rewards

Historically, recognition programs were tied to length of service. While these types of programs reward loyal employees, they ignore outstanding contributions made by employees with shorter tenure. These employees are often the ones you want to retain, especially if they are bringing fresh energy and ideas into the organization.

The annual expense of an effective rewards program can range from 1% to 10% of total payroll. But the cost of the program shouldn’t be the only concern. Your team members want to feel that they understand how the program works and what they can expect from it. Executed properly, a good rewards program can boost productivity by 1.7%. And it can also contribute to a positive workplace culture. The following types of appreciation and recognition programs might work at your company:

Performance: Employees receive a monetary reward connected to their achievement of a goal, such as meeting sales quota.

Service: These financial rewards are linked to the number of years of employment and can encourage team members to “stay for an average of two more years,” according to HRCloud data.

Spot:  While employees may begin to count on and take other types of rewards for granted, that’s not the case with spot gifts. Through this style of appreciation and recognition, managers can give team members a gift card or cash reward. In doing so, they are signaling what they like to all team members.

If you want to start the new year by strengthening employee loyalty, review the way that you show appreciation.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.