The employee experience is important for HR professionals and business leaders to focus on. And for good reasons. Positive employee engagement has countless and measurable benefits for organisations, including higher employee retention, more effective teams and higher productivity.

By exploring ways to enhance the employee experience, companies see beneficial results with their employees and their engagement within the organisation. Considering big or small changes offers a variety of directions a company can go that could meet their needs and are within their budget. One effective and easy way to boost the employee experience is to implement a program that celebrates employee moments in a meaningful way. 

What does celebrating the employee experience mean? 

In the simplest terms, celebrating the employee experience involves business leaders, HR managers, or colleagues taking time out of the workday to recognise the achievements or personal milestones happening with their staff members.

This can be done by:

1. Making announcements in meetings
2. Publishing in company-wide newsletters
3. Sharing public recognition 
4. Leaving simple notes on desk or workstations
5. Giving away swag or gift cards
6. Taking employees out to lunch
7. Throwing workplace parties
8. Showcasing employee of the month

How does this contribute to employees' sense of belonging? 

happy employeesThe employee experience is not just what happens during the hiring process or when the employee has their last day of work, but it includes everything in between. When you celebrate special days – even one-off moments –  together with employees, it boosts community and collectivism, creating stronger teams, enhancing psychological safety at the workplace and improving inclusion

By you, the employer, saying 'I see you, and I appreciate you,' the employee feels acceptance and appreciation of their individual contributions and preferences.

According to Gallup, 74% of teams that receive praise feel the work they do is valuable and useful, which reinforces their purpose. Through recognition and celebrating moments with their teammates, employees develop stronger bonds with their colleagues. Through mutual and shared appreciation, team members feel more inclusion in the group and become more efficient with the work they perform together. 

Why is celebrating these moments important?

According to Reward Gateway research, 70% of workers say that motivation and morale would improve if managers simply said thank you more. In addition, 50% of employees surveyed would leave a company if they weren’t regularly thanked and recognised for their efforts.

By celebrating employees’ accomplishments, achievements and special moments, companies improve the employee experience by building a culture of appreciation. When employees feel that their work is valued, they are more engaged and let’s face it – happier at work. 

social recognition wall

With a social recognition wall, ​​it’s even easier to shine a spotlight on moments of recognition to celebrate successes across your entire organisation. Consider the employee who observes others' recognition. What are they thinking? By seeing their coworker achieve goals and the celebrations that follow, these employees are more motivated to up their game, trusting their employer will give them the same reward when they achieve a goal.

What are some things companies can celebrate?

The great thing about recognising employee milestones is there are so many different occasions that can be celebrated. So limiting yourself to one or two is fine to start, but if you want to bring in more engagement moments, consider including as many as you can from the list of ideas below:

  1. First day: With celebrating the arrival of a new employee, you immediately give them the feeling of being welcomed and included within the company, and start their engagement journey right away.
  2. A successful quarter: By celebrating goal achievements or sales/production quotas is a great way to say 'great job' and share with everyone the rewards for hard work.
  3. Completion of projects: No better way to say 'thank you' than by acknowledging when a project is done and done well – just like throwing out high-fives or fist bumps, or having that Friday pizza party. 
  4. Promotions: Each step in the corporate ladder is an opportunity for growth for an employee. It not only rewards the individual for hard work or upskilling, but also lets the entire staff see their future at the company.
  5. Anniversaries: Recognising dedication, these milestones at every stage of an employee’s career are essential and not to be missed, whether it’s one year or over 25 years.

    greeting ecard examples
  6. Graduations: Putting in the long hours of study is even more rewarding when businesses recognise the long nights employees put in and the added knowledge the employees will now contribute to the company.
  7. Certifications: These normally come from stressful testing or course work and when earned, hearing congrats from others in the company who might have gone on the same journey is gratifying.
  8. Retirement: After an employee comes to the end of their journey, celebrating all they have accomplished will show not only your appreciation for their dedication, but will show all employees that you recognise all the steps and challenges it takes to see work to the end.
  9. Birthdays: Let’s face it, everyone wants to feel special on their birthday. Throwing a shout out, giving the day off or sending a gift lets employees feel seen and appreciated.
  10.  Life events: Every employee is on a unique path in life and joining them in celebrating weddings, new home purchases or a new baby creates community.
  11.  Holidays: Remember that your employees come from  diverse backgrounds and what is considered a holiday to celebrate may be as different and as diverse as your workforce. So, be sure to recognise all the holidays your employees view as important or sacred. What’s more, you could even offer floating holidays and let employees choose which holiday they want to recognise.

  12. Company anniversary: When employees are asked to join in the milestones the company has accomplished, it emphasises their connection to the company’s mission, purpose and values. Some long-standing employees may have seen the company grow from a small startup and it’s important to celebrate this journey.
  13. Great customer review: When a customer or client praises an employee, be sure to share it across the company. This not only makes the individual feel appreciated, but it also reinforces positive behaviours across the company so people know what 'good work' looks like. 

Quick tips

To be sure that you have the right steps in place for a successful employee recognition program, keep in mind these four tips or 'MUSTs':             

1. Meaningful

Make moments of recognition matter by making them detailed and meaningful. Why does your fellow colleague deserve recognition? Ensure the person knows specifically what they’ve done, and how they’ve helped you.

thank you

2. Unified

Make sure to build an initiative that allows for all to give and all to receive recognition under one brand to better connect your people.

3. Spotlight

Shine a spotlight on moments of recognition, either through social capabilities or other public means, to celebrate achievements and to reinforce habits for the rest of the company.

4. Timely

Make recognition more impactful by sending moments of recognition instantly that are easily accessible anytime, anywhere.

Final thoughts

If you are in doubt of what to celebrate at your company, don’t be afraid to ask your employees what is important to them with an employee survey. Celebrating all parts of the employee journey with your company is key to improving the employee experience and in the long run employee retention. 

If you're ready to get started on your own rewards program to celebrate the employee journey, we're here to help. Get in touch with an Employee Engagement Specialist today.

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Jon Fulluck

Jon Fulluck has spent the last 8 years guiding companies all over the world on their employee engagement journeys. When he isn’t showing people how to level-up their benefits and reward and recognition programs, he’s travelling around Australia or either snowboarding or playing tennis.

Employee Engagement Consultant

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