Leaders in 2021 are facing a major challenge: how to keep their teams engaged and pushing forward despite the tidal wave of change the global pandemic has set in motion. A June 2020 Gallup survey of U.S. workers revealed a historic drop in employee engagement, with just 31% reporting they were “actively engaged.” According to Gallup, this is “the most significant drop we have recorded in our history of tracking employee engagement in the U.S., dating back to 2000.”
So what should leaders focus on as they face this reality? One effort that can make a real difference is taking advantage of any chance to celebrate your team members.
What some companies are asking for in 2021 is a spirit of resilience that, for some employees, may be hard to muster. But if leaders focus on ways they can recognize, celebrate, and appreciate their team members for the extraordinary work they are doing in these extraordinary times, they will find opportunities to boost engagement and build resilience.
Four Tips for Creating Engagement Via Celebration
TIP 1: Turn Appreciative Thoughts into Consistent Practice
For many leaders, feelings of appreciation run through their heads all day long, but these thoughts aren’t always verbalized in their fast-paced environments. Commit to taking time out for recognition in some capacity every day. This simple act builds relationship equity, which is so essential right now. What you do to share your appreciation doesn’t need to be elaborate – a simple “thank you” and a few sentences of gratitude for the specific action an employee took or accomplishment they had will go a long way in helping team members feel seen and heard.
TIP 2: Take Time to Consider Ways You Can Celebrate
All of us have experienced being recognized or recognizing others at work. Reflect on what you’ve seen be most effective. A quick conversation with other leaders to crowdsource ideas is a great way to push your thinking when it comes to celebrating your team. Questions you might consider include:
- What recognition tools exist in your organization today? Is there anything new you could try?
- What is the best way you have ever been recognized at work? What made it so powerful?
- How have you seen recognition go wrong? What did you learn from it?
- What was the most creative means of recognition you have seen? How effective was it?
- What might you do to make sure you celebrate wins with your team on a consistent basis? How can you easily hold yourself accountable?
TIP 3: Connect Your People to Your Purpose
Particularly in these times, it’s important for people to know that the job they do, the hours they put in, the time they spend away from their family, and the risks they take matter. Make sure that when you take the time to recognize team members, you find a way to connect it to purpose. Knowing they are making a difference might be the one thing motivating a team member to keep going right now. Hearing this message from their leader will serve to reinforce their efforts. This is a simple but important action leaders can take with recognition.
TIP 4: Make it Personal
Personalization has become increasingly important to the consumer experience – but it’s just as important to the employee experience. When you consider how to celebrate individual team members, take stock of what you know about them and how they might like to be recognized. Some team members may thrive with public recognition, while others may shudder at the thought of having a spotlight shined upon them. Some team members might enjoy a celebratory lunch with the team, while others might prefer a gift card for lunch and an opportunity to treat their family. Recognition is not a one-size-fits-all practice, and leaders need to keep this in mind. Learn what makes the difference for your employees. If the answer isn’t clear, it’s okay to ask people about their preferences when it comes to being recognized, appreciated, and rewarded.
While giving deserving employees acknowledgement might not seem like breaking news, it’s something that often falls to the wayside as leaders are challenged with endless to-do lists. But as long as employee engagement levels remain subpar, celebrating your people is a simple but effective way to change how they feel, and creating an environment where people feel seen and heard is great for your culture and your business.
To learn more about unlocking talent, check out some of Root’s ideas here.