Employees exchange a high-five during a workplace rally.

Easy employee appreciation ideas

Making your team feel valued helps retain and engage them longer.

This content originally appeared on theTrust20 blog. Trust20 was founded during a period of great uncertainty in the hopes of providing clarity, guidance, and support for businesses.

Employee appreciation is important, especially when it comes to staff retention, because the more an employee feels valued, the more likely they are to stay engaged with their job. The industry has faced incredible challenges in the last few years and it can feel overwhelming to add another thing to your plate, but there are some very easy ways for managers and operators to show their teams they care.

Say thank you

This first one should be a no-brainer, but with a global crisis and hungry customers harassing you online and IRL it might have slipped some managers’ minds. Whether it is saying a heartfelt “thank you” when sending someone home for the day or taking the time to write a thoughtful note about what you appreciate about each member of your team, remembering to lead with gratitude can go a long way.

Manager takeover‍

Does your staff hate cleaning the cooler? Do people fight over who has to clean the bathroom? An easy way for managers to show their appreciation is to show that they KNOW a task is terrible and offer to take it on themselves for a day (or even a week). The divide between management and the staff on the frontline can sometimes feel broad and deep and managers will earn more respect from their staff by jumping into the trenches with them. 

Plan a surprise

What’s better than expressing gratitude? SURPRISE expressions of gratitude. It could be as straightforward as throwing a surprise pizza party for lunch or ordering a special dessert to bring out at the end of a family meal. Other options could include buying each team member their favorite candy bar, organizing an after-hours happy hour, or ordering everyone a coffee at the top of their shift. Small surprises can go a long way in showing appreciation and boosting morale.

Invest in their growth

Continuing education is common, and oftentimes required, in most industries. Experts in staff retention repeatedly cite opportunities for job training and growth as a key to employee satisfaction. So what better way to show your staff you appreciate their efforts than investing in their futures? Providing access to food handler training for your staff during the onboarding process (and when it's time for renewal!), reimbursing someone for taking a mixology course, or hosting a knife skills session can all make your staff feel appreciated for their time and experience – all while showing them that you're invested in their success.

Ask for help

Don’t get us wrong – we don’t mean give your staff more to do! However, people love to offer advice. Want to re-arrange the dining room or better organize the cooler? Ask the people who work in those spaces what they think should change around the space. It is a straightforward and simple way to show that you value your employees by saying you value their opinion.

Show them the money

A little can go a long way and a random bonus can brighten anyone’s day. Keeping gift cards on hand to congratulate someone for a high sales day or finding some extra cash in the budget to boost someone’s morale after being stiffed on tips are two ways to acknowledge the extra mile that your team has to go as a part of the service industry.