Celebrating Your Team – Reflection and Appreciation

Reflecting upon this past year and the unprecedented levels of disruption impacting our team members at home, in their community and at work, employee appreciation continues to be a top priority for all leaders. We can add up all of the days, weeks and months in 2020. However, for most of us, the time has felt much longer than a year.

We have hit the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, and leaders have at least a year’s worth of achievements and milestones to celebrate. Despite all the challenges and adversities, employees at every level in all departments rose to the occasion, persevering through difficult times while providing insight, creative ideas and dedication to keep things moving forward. Our team rose to the challenge!

COVID-19 may have changed how we work, so how do we provide that “sustenance for another day” at work for our employees? It is by showing ongoing appreciation. Many organizations have instituted recognition programs, pictures and stories of inspiration and hope throughout this past year to celebrate our true heroes.

Often, we forget about the little things such as how our words and our actions as a leader can empower our team, positively impacting the whole organization. Employee appreciation is your leadership “secret weapon.” It’s finding a way to balance one of the most basic human needs, appreciation, in a way that supports getting the work accomplished. It’s important because feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing.1

Leadership Considerations

Appreciation does not have to cost anything. Being present and planful in your words and actions will go a long way. Below are a few appreciation reminders for leaders.

Say “Thank You.” Although we do this daily, remember to take a moment to pull someone aside, look them in the eye and say thank you – it can have a profound effect on someone’s spirit! Employees appreciate sincere recognition from their managers, supervisors, coworkers and leaders. It lets them know that their work is having an impact and it makes them feel good.

Connect for a few moments. Spending a few moments to talk with employees (different departments and shifts), asking them how they are doing, how their family is doing and what you can do to help them – goes a long way.

Send a note. In today’s digital world, often forgotten is sending a short written note, acknowledging an employee’s efforts and saying thank you for a job well done. It allows leaders the opportunity to reflect and acknowledge all that has been accomplished this past year and to craft a message to each of your team members, recognizing them for a job well done.

Engage your team in decision-making. Organize “what’s your thought or opinion” meetings, regular open forums for your staff to ask questions, share their thoughts and ideas to specific challenges, new business lines, regulation updates, etc. You cannot do it alone as a leader. Your staff has wonderful ideas and suggestions to move beyond the challenges that your organization is facing. Harness the collective brainpower within. Engaged staff feels trusted, needed and treated as insiders in their organization.2

Even in the best of times, employee appreciation is an important element in engagement and organizational culture. So, during tough times like this, it’s even more important for employee appreciation to stay a top priority for all leaders. The show of appreciation they get from you can be the spark that inspires them to press on.

1 – Why Appreciation Matters So Much. Harvard Business Review
2 – 5 Strategies to Support Your Employees Through a Crisis. Harvard Business Review


Lisa A. Thomson, BA, LNHA, CIMT – Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer