How To Use Employee Appreciation To Make Your Business Better

employee apprriationDoes the company you work for care about you?

Beyond doing your job, do you feel valued for your role in the organization?

I ask because:
How you feel about these issues are key to employee appreciation.

From a business perspective:
Employee appreciation goes beyond “Good job!” and “We care about you” lip service.

Rather, employee appreciation delivers value to your bottom line.

Don’t take my word for it!

Instead listen to Richard Branson:

“Customers do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard BransonClick To Tweet

To clarify, employee appreciation doesn’t mean employee advocacy.

  • Employee Appreciation nurtures and helps your employees to grow and feel fulfilled as individuals.
  • By contrast, Employee Advocacy systematically gets your staff to participate on social media and help distribute your content marketing messages. Often, this taps into specialized technology. In the process, your marketing loses its human voice and feels forced.

Why does employee appreciation matter now?
Because in the current low trust environment, employees trust the businesses they work for and look to their leaders to make positive changes in the world. These changes should be strategic and sustainable.

Check out these 2 charts from 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer:

Employee expectations of company

Employer trust chat


What does this mean for your business and your marketing?

  • Understand employee appreciation. Examine how to recognize and communicate with your staff to apply these elements to your organization.
  • Find out what your workforce expects and needs by talking to them. (Yes, it’s that easy!) Don’t assume that you can apply what works in other businesses to your firm.


Why Is Employee Appreciation Good Business?

Employees are your most valuable strategic asset.Click To Tweet

If you’re a solopreneur, entrepreneur or small business, you may overlook this point due to your low headcount. 

Beyond payroll and benefits, Human Resources played a strategic management role when I worked at Citibank.

Management regularly assessed employees in terms of their ability to:

  • Contribute to the division’s bench strength. They assessed job performance, individual contribution, and job tenure.
  • Grow and handle new challenges. They supported promotions and found new positions within the bank. Additionally they provided necessary training.
  • Cause business risk by taking another position. They assessed the cost of personnel turnover including how long jobs remained vacant, new hire expenses, and loss of clients.

Employee Appreciation Survey Results

3 Ways Employee Appreciation Helps Your Marketing


1. Employees embody your brand

As your representatives, employees give your business a face through their interactions with your prospects and others. They engage across a variety of locations, platforms and devices.Click To Tweet

Regardless what’s happening in their personal lives, your staff must be friendly and helpful as well as knowledgeable about your brand and products.

Since you only have one chance to make a good first impression, how these people react matters.

To accomplish this, your business must take a stand on social and political issues to win your employees and your customers. According to 2018 Sprout Social research, 66% of respondents believe that businesses should do good both politically and socially.



2. Employees humanize your business

People do business with people.

In a period where your audience seeks personalized experiences, they actively seek to buy from stores and businesses where they have a relationship with  employees. It helps when businesses that align with their beliefs and support their communities.

From a marketing perspective:

  • Allow prospects to deal with people. More importantly, make it easy for them to connect to a real person.

Further, employee interaction help close sales. Since they can answer more specific questions.


3. Employees help distribute your content and social media marketing

Research has shown that employees’ personal networks have limited overlap with your organization’s addressable audience.

As a result, when they share your content and other marketing across social media and other platforms, they broaden your reach. Because your employees are trusted purchase resources, this adds credibility to these messages.  

Trusted sources-Influencers

People trusted by consumers -2019 Edelman Trust Barometer chart

Further, since face-to-face interactions continuously take place but may not tracked, you’ve probably have broader reach than you measure.

Don’t force employees to use pre-formatted messages and related systems!

Because you may reduce:

  • Message delivery frequency.
  • Employee trustworthiness (since messages may sound canned)


How Businesses Show Employee Appreciation

For many organizations, changing to show employee appreciation requires major changes.

Since these modifications involve personalities and pre-existing relationships, they take time and are difficult to accomplish.


1. Start small with management controlled activities

Avoid confronting or singling out specific individuals.

Your goal is to improve your organization’s working environment and to better support your staff.

At an individual level, this translates to respect and communication.

Instead of waiting for employees to resign:

Proactively encourage and motivate employees and direct reports.

What does this look like?

  • Giving direct reports plum assignments to keep them interested and learning. I’ve done this to motivate my direct reports.
  • Ask for staff input on key decisions. This surfaces fresh ideas.
  • Help employees to get other positions within your company and improve their skills.
  • Create cross-functional teams.
  • Host fun activities to get employees to engage with each other.


2. Let marketing transform your internal communications

This includes your Intranet, employee emailings, employee handbooks and other content. Avoid sleep-inducing internal communications!

Make internal content attractive and readable like your acquisition marketing.
If you don’t want employees to read it, then why create it?

Working with Fortune 100 companies that have large employee bases, I’m always surprised that smart marketers miss the power of keeping staff informed with the use of marketing created communications.

For example, I tried persuading the CEO of a travel site to send marketing style communications to the firm’s 90,000+ employees. But he refused.

His response:
The employees already know that information!

While he was technically correct, the information was buried in HR manuals that no one read! As a result fewer employees used our services.


3. Celebrate your internal experts and their achievements

One of the most frequent questions I get is:
How do I get internal experts such as PhDs to create content for me?

I recommend the “John F. Kennedy approach” to internal experts:
Flip your request and ask: “How can we help you share your smarts with your peers as well as a broader audience?”

This shows that you support them.

At the same time, you remove the fear of looking bad due to poor writing or speaking skills.

As a result:
Your employees feel proud of their accomplishments and you get amazing content.

At the same time:
You extend your business visibility to new related areas.


4. Celebrate employees who pass key milestones

Acknowledge staff that receive a patent or finish college or graduate school. For example, IBM gives employees a financial bonus for their first patent. (BTW did you know that Mark Schaefer has 7 patents?)

To this end:
Help these employees extend their personal platform. It benefits your business even if they leave later!

Allow employees to attend key conferences in their area of specialty:

  • Help staff to get speaking opportunities (and then help create a great presentation.) While at SAP, Michael Brenner took advantage of creating an executive presentation to make a content magnet.
  • Encourage staff to develop post-conference content. Use this information across different niches. For example, Lee Odden has taught his Top Rank Marketing team to excel at live blogging.

    Example of liveblogging Carlos Abler session by Ashley Zeckman


5. Create a business alumni group

Accept that employees will eventually look for new professional challenges. And, when they leave, you’ll lose irreplaceable institutional knowledge.

Instead of cutting ties with these employees: Celebrate them by creating an alumni group using LinkedIn or other platform.

I was surprised that Citibank didn’t have such a community. Many employees left to work for a competitor and returned to Citibank years later. Even though Citibank knew these qualified candidates, they had to pay headhunter fees to source these people.

By contrast, McKinsey maintains its alumni community. The consulting firm knows its consultants land positions at companies that qualify as potential clients. As a result, past employees refer McKinsey to their new employers.

So it makes good business sense to maintain relationships.


Employee Appreciation Conclusion

When it comes to Employee Appreciation, if you don’t care about an employee, then why did you hire them?

Face it–most people spend more time at their job with their co-workers than they do with their family and friends.

So it’s no surprise that getting along with peers and being respected are one of the most important elements of employee satisfaction.


Employee appreciation is smart business since it makes your staff loyal and improves their natural word of mouth!

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
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