Remember back in elementary school, when it was a big deal to get a good grade on a paper with a smiley face from your teacher? People don’t outgrow their desire to receive praise, especially from their boss.

Are you giving your employees that smiley-face kind of joy? And are you aware of how your thank-you’s affect your ability to retain your valued staff?

Acknowledging your team members’ hard work can boost morale, instill loyalty and help you build a more cohesive team. And even if all or some of your team members are working remotely now, it doesn’t mean you can let your recognition efforts slip.

Here are some ways to celebrate your team members regardless of where they work and how much budget you have to work with. We’ll also look at some common employee recognition missteps to avoid.

Show them that you mean it

  • Put your praise in writing. Verbal praise is essential, but documenting great work in writing is even better. A thank-you note — especially one that the company’s leaders add their congratulations to — can serve as a motivating message that an employee can keep and look back on.
  • Sing their praises widely. Announcing key achievements during a regular meeting is a good thing to do, of course. But if the accomplishment is significant enough, consider scheduling a special event, virtually or in person, to celebrate the success as a team.
  • Broaden the recognition. Consider calling out everyone who played a role in a big win. This reinforces the benefits of collaboration.
  • Consider monetary rewards. As you recognize the professionals who work for you, explore the possibility of providing spot bonuses, raises and other financial rewards if appropriate and budgets allow.

Find out how benefits and perks can be just as important as salary when it comes to retaining top talent.

Employee appreciation mistakes to avoid

  • Don’t underwhelm them. The form of recognition should fit the degree of achievement. For example, giving a strong performer a $5 gift card for coffee to mark their fifth anniversary doesn’t quite convey that you view the milestone as significant.
  • Don’t let smaller budgets lead you to skip appreciation. Recognition doesn’t always need to be extravagant to be effective. Saying “thank you” or giving credit for good ideas can be a powerful motivator, provided your actions are timely.
  • Don’t be vague. Telling an employee “You rock!” or “Nice job!” during the course of everyday work can be meaningful, but including more detail with your praise is better, especially when an employee delivers a standout performance. Properly give thanks by tying acknowledgments back to specific actions, so the employee knows exactly what they did well and how it made an impact.
  • Don’t let one star outshine the rest. Although some workers naturally gravitate toward the limelight, don’t forget to celebrate the unsung heroes who make significant contributions behind the scenes.

Skilled talent is in demand in any job market. Don’t risk losing your top performers to the competition by not letting them know how much you appreciate their contributions and commitment.

For more tips on prioritizing employee recognition all year long, see this post!