7 Quirky and Creative Ways to Thank Your Superstar Employees
It’s hard to find two words in the English language more powerful than ‘thank you.’ We say them a lot, but most of the time this is out of habit or common courtesy. We rarely find ways to really express what we mean when we say thank you, and this needs to change, especially
Going out of your way to thank the employees who go above and beyond is a great way to improve workplace morale, foster good relationships and motivate people to keep working hard.
But how exactly do you say thank you? Bonuses are nice, but they don’t always accurately reflect what you mean (and they aren’t always possible), and things such as ‘employee of the month’ ceremonies and certificates of excellence can sometimes come off as cheesy. Finding unique and creative ways to thank your best employees will help ensure they understand your gratitude, helping positivity radiate throughout the office.
There are countless things you can do, but here are seven things you may not have thought of that are worth giving a try.
1. CEO for the Day
Everyone would like to be the boss, even for just a day. So, consider coming up with a program that lets well-performing employees become the head of the company for a day. Obviously, they won’t be able to make major changes about how things run, but you can let them do some fun stuff, such as change the dress code, hold a party, alter the schedule, etc.
Furthermore, as the boss, you could switch places for the day, spending some time doing your employees’ daily tasks. This helps express your gratitude, but it also gives you the chance to see what it’s like to be them for a day, which can help you become a better manager.
If you don’t want to or can’t do this for whatever reason, consider instituting a “lunch with the boss/CEO” day. This one-on-one time between employee and manager (where you ideally don’t talk about work) is a nice way to bring people together and to show employees how thankful you are for what they do.
2. Get them free stuff
Nothing says ‘thank you’ quite like a gift. But the key to making these things resonate with employees is to find something they will like or use. Ask around and get people things that are useful to their lives.
If you have an employee who’s nuts about golf, get them a free round at their favorite course. Coffee lovers will love a free coffee subscription service, and the foodies in the office will go crazy for gift cards to local restaurants and bars.
Too often we let the process of gift giving become repetitive; we buy a bunch of gift cards, throw them in our desk and then hand them out every few weeks or months. For your gratitude to really hit home, make sure you are giving something personal that will make people realize you’ve gone out of your way to make them feel appreciated.
3. Bring in some adventure
While the work you are doing may be exciting, everyone can use a little adventure in their life. Organizing offsite activities that bring an adrenaline rush can be a great way to bring people together and also to reward them with some fun outside of the office. A tailored event by Uplift Events, Skydiving, bungee jumping, ziplining, skiing, etc. are all great options.
If you’re worried people won’t like this level of intensity, you can opt for some tamer adventures, such as hot-air-balloon rides, parasailing or mini-golf. When trying to reward one or a few employees, consider letting them choose the event themselves. And make sure to do it during a workday. Asking people to give up their weekends is hardly a way to say thank you.
4. The amazing office
Everyone aspires to have that nicely-decorated, homely corner office. Well, to say thank you to your employees, don’t make them wait until later in their career to experience this.
Take some unused space in the office and convert it into an “amazing office.” Make sure it’s the best one in the whole place. You can then set up a rotation allowing those who you’re honoring to use the office for a set period of time. This works a little like an ‘employee of the month’ scheme, but instead of a plaque on the wall, you get a killer office to work from for the month.
5. Write them a card
It’s weird to think something like this could fall under the category of ‘quirky and creative,’ but that’s where we’re are at this point. Few people write each other hand-written notes anymore. And that’s really a shame. Taking the time to sit down and scratch out a letter to someone shows more gratitude than many of the other things we can do.
Pick out a nice card and make sure to write more than just “thanks for all the hard work.” Come up with some meaningful words that really express what you mean. This small and somewhat outdated gesture can work wonders on people.
6. The dunk tank
This works better when you are trying to say thank you to a group of people or the entire team. While you as the boss might be well-liked, people still have frustration they’ll want to let out.
And what better way to say thank you than to put yourself on trial on the dunk tank? As employees toss softballs and watch you get soaked, you’ll not only be demonstrating to everyone that you’re one of the team, but this nice break in the routine will show people how much you appreciate what they do.
Obviously wait until summer to do this, and make sure you’re wearing the right clothes, but this fun little activity will really provide a nice more boost in the right setting.
7. An awards ceremony
The best ways to say thank you are the ones that break up the day-to-day. When people get the chance to switch off from work and have some fun, they begin to feel like they belong to a community. If you’ve ever watched the U.S. version of The Office, you’ve likely seen the world-famous Dundies Awards. This is when the whole office goes to a restaurant and the boss performs an Oscars-esque ceremony, awarding each employee with a trophy for something they have done.
Now, The Office is a comedy, so don’t take it as an exact example, but running something like this can be a really fun and effective way to express appreciation to your employees. Uplift Events’ Your Generation Trivia would be perfect for a fun offsite awards ceremony. Take it offsite, have some fun with it and make sure everyone is included. Doing this once or twice a year is enough. It’s a lot of fun and helps build meaningful relationships with your employees.
Coming up with fun and unique ways to say thank you is a great way to boost morale, to show people you see how hard they are working and to motivate people to keep up what they are doing. Consider trying out one of these seven tactics so that you can demonstrate how thankful you are for your superstar employees.
About the author:
Caroline puts employee satisfaction at the top of her priority lists. She writes frequently about her experiences to encourage other business leaders to make the choice of treating their employees right.
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