You know the Golden Rule - “Treat others how you want to be treated.” It’s easy to follow, especially when applied to how you treat your employees. If you do not enjoy being yelled at, do not yell at those who work for you. Makes sense, right? But when it comes to employee appreciation gifts, is the Golden Rule really the best way to go?
Using your own likes and dislikes may serve as an average gauge for how to show your employees you appreciate them. If you enjoy free lunches, you may give your employees a free lunch to show your appreciation for their hard work in a tough quarter. It’s a nice thing to do, but it leaves something out: you offered your employees what you would want. You did not ask them what they would want.
Dr. Tony Alessandra coined the idea of the Platinum Rule: treat others how they want to be treated. This idea goes a step beyond the Golden Rule. The Platinum Rule includes what the person you wish to appreciate actually wants. If appreciation is about gifting someone else, to make a maximum positive impact, the gift must be something they actually want?
So, how can you apply the Platinum Rule to employee appreciation gifts?
#1 Get to know what makes your employees feel appreciated
A set of files is created when a new employee comes on board, usually covering personal information - addresses and phone numbers, etc. What if you included one extra question in this process: “What makes you feel appreciated?” or “What is your favorite type of gift to receive for a job well done?” Keep this answer on file, share it with your employee’s manager, and when the time comes for appreciating that employee, give the exact gift or type of gift the employee said they would enjoy. This personalization creates a strong connection between your employee and their manager as well as with the company.
#2 Provide options for employees to choose from
If you offer an appreciation event for employees, say a picnic or cook out, offer a few options for employees to participate in. Pull from the list your team curated of what makes your employees feel appreciated. If several employees enjoy music, see if you can bring in a band. If others enjoy time off or time with their families, make it known that they can leave the cook out early or they can bring their families to the event. And while you are at the event, make it a point to ask them for feedback and see if there is anything they would like different next time.
#3 Create an Employee Appreciation Committee to make appreciation a priority
There is a direct connection between recognition and better work. Employees who work in a strong company culture and are appreciated increase their individual productivity and are more likely to stay at the company, reducing turnover and increasing retention. Appreciation can be a big job. Ask for employee volunteers to create an Employee Appreciation Committee. Their purpose is to find ways to appreciate employees in small ways - such as thank you notes - and big ways - such as celebrations or gifts. Advise them to direct their projects around the Platinum Rule and see how your company culture can shift positively when you make appreciation about your people.
Read more about appreciating your employees by creating a company culture based around values, driving retention and employee engagement.