Employee Appreciation Day comes once a year. And we love it. It’s sort of like our Super Bowl. Helping employees give thank-you’s and recognition to each other every day is our raison d’etre. And one big day full of positive employee recognition – well – we’re all about it.

Each year, we hold a contest where we ask people to tell us why one of their coworkers deserves an appreciation party. We send a pop-up party in a box to a few winners, so their coworkers can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with them.

This year, we got 150 submissions to our contest. As we looked through the list, we saw some trends in what employees appreciated in their coworkers. And here’s the big surprise:

The traits employees appreciate most contribute to business performance.

The nominees weren’t just people who scheduled happy hours or had a massage chair in their office (although a few of those definitely got nominated!). Mostly, we got stories of people who skipped happy hour to work hard for their team, supported huge teams with a smile, came in early and stayed late, or were willing to put aside their own ego to let teammates shine.

Trends Worth Recognition

Looking over all the nominations gives good tips on what employees want in their work experience. We’ve seen that encouraging these behaviors with public recognition can strengthen them. And that contributes to a stronger culture. (And you can see our post on Alarming Statistics of Employee Engagement 2017 to see the business value of having an engaged culture!)

Here are five traits that we saw repeated in nominations:

  • Teamwork. The word ‘team’ was included in 30% of our nominations. Sometimes it talked about leadership. Other times, it talked about self-sacrifice. But teamwork is an essential part of a positive experience. “Even though she has more experience than most of us combined, she chooses to use her talents to let her team-mates shine.”
  • Got your Back. The word ‘help’ showed up in 39% of our answers. Offering help, helping others, and being helpful all got covered. But we also saw a lot of nominations for volunteering to train coworkers, mentoring, and coaching. “He is my Obi-Wan Kanobe – always willing to help me with any technical question or snafu I have.”
  • Service with a Smile. The words ‘positive attitude’, ‘positivity’, and ‘smile’ described 33% or our nominees. An employee who comes into the office with a positive attitude is contagious. And that energy spreads outward to encourage others. “She gets to do all the dirty work and does it all with a smile on her face.”
  • An Open Door. Coworkers appreciated approachable teammates . ‘Welcome’ or ‘Welcoming’ showed up in 10% of our nominations. The words ‘Open door’, ‘available’ and ‘listens’ also popped up frequently on our radar. “She has a great ear for listening and an amazing eye for noticing where help is needed.”
  • Taking the Extra Step. 10% of our nominees were described as “going above and beyond.” After adding in words like “hard-working”, “self-starter”, “commitment” or just descriptions of coworkers who gave more than what’s expected – the numbers jump closer to half of our nominees. Coworkers appreciate other employees who perform and give it their all. “She bends over backwards for her accounts, her clients and her team!”

Recognizing these behaviors can help you make every day a day your employees appreciate. If you want more ideas for encouraging these behaviors in your office, check out our guide on Rewards and Recognition Systems That Work.

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Susan Mack