According to the 2021 State of Rehab Therapy Report, 40 to 50% of therapy professionals report feeling more burned out now than they did pre-COVID-19. With burnout at an all-time high in the rehab therapy industry, simply coming into work every day can feel like a gargantuan task. In order to retain employees through these hard times, clinic leaders need to support their staff. The simplest way? Show your appreciation.
Everyone needs encouragement—especially during hard times—and showing appreciation for your employee’s hard work can go a long way in helping them maintain a positive attitude. Fortunately, even if you can’t afford things like annual bonuses to incentivize your staff, there are less expensive ways to show them you appreciate all of their hard work—anything from an office barbecue to tickets to a local theater production.
The Fundamentals of Employee Appreciation
Before we dig into our staff appreciation ideas, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to expressing thanks to employees:
- Show equal appreciation. Make sure your appreciation doesn’t come across as favoritism—particularly if your gift giving is public knowledge. Appreciation, regardless of its form, should be fair and spread evenly across the team.
- Understand your team. Communicate with your staff to get feedback on what they would enjoy. For example, certain employees may love group activities outside of work while some may dread fitting it into an already packed schedule. Additionally, some employees may have food allergies or restrictions that make treats a tricky choice.
- Show continual appreciation. Appreciation is a marathon, not a sprint. While grand gestures are a great way to express your thanks to employees, it’s most important they feel appreciated and supported throughout the year.
- Check your motives. Employees will sense if you expect something in return for your generosity. On the other hand, when your generosity comes from genuine gratitude, your team will pick up on your sincerity.
Many clinics have yet to resume their pre-COVID patient volumes—and thus, their pre-COVID revenue. The good news is that even if you’re on a tight budget, there are low cost ways to show your employees you appreciate their hard work:
- Thank you notes. The cost of writing a handwritten note is very little, but the impact can be great. A simple “thank you” can brighten an employee’s day and reassure them that they truly matter.
- Outdoor activities. Recreational activities like hiking, walking on the beach, or playing frisbee at the park are a great way to get everyone out of the office and having fun in nature. Want to take it to the next level? Add a picnic lunch!
- Public recognition during team meetings. Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work. Commending employees during team meetings will make them feel seen and valued—and encourage the entire team to keep giving their best.
If you feel overwhelmed thinking about the time it takes to plan and implement staff appreciation efforts, have no fear! Here are some ideas that don’t require a lot of time, but are sure to be a hit with your team:
- Gifts. Who doesn’t love getting presents? Giving small gifts to your employees is a surefire way to make them feel special. Tried-and-true gifts include:
- Gift cards;
- Coffee for the whole team from their favorite coffee shop;
- Tickets to museums or sporting events;
- Company swag; and
- Desk or travel mugs for the coffee and tea drinkers.
- Activities. Simple office activities are easy to execute and are a great way to boost office morale. Some activity ideas include:
- Organizing catered lunches or treats. This could be as simple as bringing in popsicles on hot summer days or having a hot cocoa bar during winter.
- Celebrating employee anniversaries. Whether it’s a celebratory lunch at a local restaurant, a balloon bouquet, or a fruit basket, there are endless ways to mark those milestones.
- Letting employees recognize their teammates. Ask everyone to write down something that they appreciate about another team member, and share their responses during a team meeting. Warm fuzzies guaranteed.
- Surprising employees with a fun activity in lieu of a team meeting. Head out for a neighborhood walk, take a field trip to a local cafe, or bring in a mobile massage therapist.
Nothing shows someone how much you care about them as much as a personalized gift. Check out these ideas that will make your employees feel extra special:
- Personalized experiences or gifts. Use programs like Alyce to send personalized gifts to your employees, and even let them choose a gift themselves.
- A free PTO day or a floating holiday. This will allow employees to spend their time off in a way that they will truly enjoy, whether it’s to attend their niece’s kindergarten play or book a spa day.
- Employee awards. This is a great way to bring the office together, show recognition for specific employee traits and accomplishments, and bring attention back to company culture and core values.
- A donation in their name to organizations they support. Depending on an employee’s preferences, you might donate to a cat rescue program, a specific kind of cancer research, a local art program, or a mental health walkathon. Investing in these charities creates a beautiful ripple effect of positivity. It also shows appreciation in a way that truly matters to your employee—by helping them make a difference in the world.
Looking to go the extra mile to show how much you appreciate your team’s hard work? Here are some ways to really wow the pants off of them (not literally, of course):
- Purchase group tickets to entertainment or sporting events;
- Book cooking classes or food tastings;
- Take a bus or walking tour and be tourists in your own city for a day;
- Upgrade your employee break room; or
- Share in a group volunteer project or give employees time off to volunteer for an organization that they are passionate about.
Showing staff appreciation through gifts and other creative ideas is fantastic, but keep in mind that those efforts are just one part of the entire employee experience. Strong connection, communication, and compassion are essential in motivating employees. In order to combat burnout, continue to foster a supportive work environment, and encourage employees to focus on the positive things that happen each day.
Do you have some ideas that we left out for how to show staff appreciation? Leave ‘em down below—we’d love to hear your thoughts!