11 Easy and Impactful Ways to Thank Employees in Difficult Times

We are asking a lot of employees right now.

Practically overnight, employees had to shift where they work, transform how they deliver work and take on more work, all while navigating unprecedented health and financial uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although many organizations are investing in plans, surveys and committees to address safety, productivity and digital connectivity during these challenging times, according to Brian Kropp, Chief of Research for the Gartner HR practice, “these plans often do not address, nor impact, employees’ ability to focus on their work.”

How can organizations and leaders help employees stay engaged with their work, with so many distractions?

One of the easiest ways to boost employee engagement is to thank them.

How To Recognize and Thank Employees During Tough Times

1. Be available and check-in. 

Many feel isolated, ignored and unsettled when adjusting to a new or remote work environment. The best leaders cultivate strong connections by regularly reaching out, lending an ear, asking questions and taking a sincere interest in their people’s well-being during tough times.

2. Recognize specific actions. 

Communicate the action and impact. “The way you handled difficult questions during the meeting put our client at ease. You listened, understood the underlying concerns, and clearly supported your point of view” is more meaningful than “great job.”

3. Do it now.

Shoot off a text or quick email to deliver your thanks quickly and informally.

4. Express your appreciation one-on-one.

In times when you can’t relay your appreciation face-to-face, 2-way communication via a phone conversation or video call is an excellent way to make a deeper connection.

5. Send a handwritten note.

Taking the effort to notice, write and send your sincere thanks is a meaningful act of appreciation. Thank you notes deliver a classic, personal touch that never go out of style.

6. Go public.

Give a shout out on social media. Take over the last 10 minutes of a meeting for surprise high-fives. Weave recognition into company-wide communication. Hearing from a boss is nice, but recognition in front of others and senior leaders is even better.

7. Seek out the quiet employees.

O.C. Tanner says it’s important to remember “members of your team who provide support, who work behind the scenes to get things done, especially those who are consistently, and thankfully, the ‘low drama’ types.” They may not seek the limelight but their contribution deserves recognition.

8. Use existing tools to create a culture of recognition.

Leverage collaboration tools like Slack and MS Teams to highlight team successes. At PeopleResults, we have an #Applause channel in Slack to share big wins. It’s inspiring and motivating to see everyone pile on their congratulations, likes and positive vibes.

9. Establish networks of support.

Create small groups or pair team members together to answer questions, check-in with each other or offer informal encouragement.

10. Give a small, meaningful gift.

One size does not fit all; know what matters to the person. A book, a cookie delivery, a fun tech gadget, a bottle of wine are inexpensive gifts that could hit (or miss) the mark.

11. Continue the traditions.

Especially during challenging times, don’t stop celebrating team successes, individual achievements and major life events. Birthday celebrations, wedding and baby showers and team lunches bring a welcome dose of levity and festivity.

 We all could use a dose of appreciation in these days.

However you decide to recognize an employee or team, make it sincere, consistent and meaningful. A few words of thanks go a long way.

Marta Steele