Why employee appreciation is not just a day in the calendar

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This week, our President of Americas, Swinda Salazar-Piquemal, rightly flagged today as a key date in the HR diary, officially Employee Appreciation Day.

More than just a key date for HR teams, it should be noted in any manager’s diary. Easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day workload it’s important to spend time showing thanks to your teams across the globe.

The best and most visionary leaders will spend five minutes to down tools and look across the board to see how they might make it a better day for their workforce.

If we look back across last year, employee engagement was reported as stagnant by Gallup; it reported only 32% of all employees as being engaged, with that number staying flat since 2000. Gallup categorizes workers as ‘engaged’ based on their ratings of key workplace elements — such as having an opportunity to do what they do best each day, having someone at work who encourages their development and believing their opinions count at work — which in turn predict important organizational performance outcomes.

How sad, in a day and age of the gig economy, where employees have more choice and options than ever before, that such apathy exists in the majority of workplaces? Organizations really need to embrace an engagement strategy from the top down, and not just in the disruptive, high growth industries and businesses Sage People works with.

Surely another item on the board agenda could easily be: Great Jobs, Great Employees – it only takes a small amount of focus and effort to move the needle. We need to expand our board priorities from finance, sales, marketing and operations, to employee engagement. The former are all ultimately affected by the latter. We know they are, but often we cannot show or evidence it. A good culture has so many side effects, and technology is a key part of this cultural improvement. If you can’t see your staff, you can’t recognize them. Using technology for visibility and insights means that you will be flying on instruments, as opposed to carrying on blindly oblivious to your company culture and engagement levels.

However, research carried out by us in 2015 showed that even the most basic workforce data is unavailable to a majority of UK mid-market organizations. This is possibly still the biggest problem – not knowing what engages and motivates the modern workforce will prevent management teams from driving forward cultural changes and improvements.

Creating a sense of identity and belonging has created significant advantages for our customers. Take the growing company SDL by way of example; the initiative was to bring all elements of the company, including employee records, together into one system to create ‘One SDL’. The ‘One SDL’ programme drove a huge culture change across all departments and countries to operating as one company globally.

Start small, but just start this employee appreciation day. It’s not just us saying that. Speaking to global HR and people leaders, they all report the same thing. Ignore this at your peril. People are people, and most of us like to be heard.

Employee Appreciation Day takeaway? This shouldn’t be a day in the calendar at all, it should be an integral part of your leadership strategy.

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