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Why organizations should celebrate employees' small victories

Heather Nolan
October 22, 2020
Why organizations should celebrate employees' small victories

A successful membership drive, unprecedented enrollment numbers in continuing education courses and record conference attendance are major accomplishments for an association that are worthy of celebration.

But these kinds of achievements only happen after months of grinding. How do you show your team you value their contributions every step of the way?

Business coach and leadership expert John Spence suggests giving employees praise at least once every seven to 10 days. Start by recognizing accomplishments of all sizes.

When you set a goal, take the time to celebrate all the little milestones along the way instead of saving the praise for when the goal is accomplished. 

When you only celebrate major victories, it becomes difficult to keep employees engaged and motivated for the long haul. It also sends the message that big accomplishments are the only work worthy of recognition. 

Show your employees you value their daily work. That way, they’ll feel as if every work day matters and that they are making an impact in the association. 

Frequent praise is a tried and true way to boost employee morale and engagement.

It helps combat the negativity bias, which is the human tendency to see the bad before the good. If you save celebration for big accomplishments, your employees are more likely to pick out and dwell on all of the missteps and failures along the way.

Praise is not one-size fits all. Different people respond better to some forms of praise than others. 

Some might appreciate verbal praise in person, others might find that embarrassing and prefer you send a note in an email. As a leader, your job is to determine what works best for each member of your team.

Here are some ways to give praise and celebrate the small victories in your organization:

  • Recognize employees’ work anniversaries. Have everyone sign a card, leave some sweets in their cubicle  or treat them to lunch.
  • Send out a staff email recognizing the employees and their achievements each week.
  • Include a mention of the accomplishments on your meeting agenda.
  • Make an achievement bulletin board or Slack channel for frequent recognition.
  • Pick individual attributes that each employee consistently brings to the table, and give out certificates recognizing those attributes. Examples: ingenuity, resourcefulness, problem-solving and adaptability.
  • Treat individual employees or entire departments to gourmet coffee for a week when they accomplish something. The upgrade might be a welcome change from the office coffee. It’s also a great solution for remote teams because you can opt to ship bags of coffee to multiple addresses.
  • Write frequent hand-written thank you cards.
  • Email employees individually to thank them for their hard work.
  • Arrange one-on-one meetings to recognize employees’ accomplishments.

Every employee deserves to feel valued and seen. Frequent praise is one proven way to retain your talent.

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Heather Nolan

Heather Nolan is a marketing specialist at Sidecar. A former journalist and social media manager, Heather lives in New Orleans with her husband, son, and grumpy rescue dog.

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