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Why your business should run an Appreciation Week at Work and how to do it

On the first week of September, parents of school age children all over the UK rejoiced that the six+ week summer holiday juggle of 24 hour childcare and work was over. Routine could return! Hurrah!

A few days later and the realisation then hit that it also meant we’re facing shorter days, colder weather, and a long, long period until the festivities of Christmas can begin. Autumn and Winter can be gloomy but this year it’s made even worse by the cost of living crisis, and of course, the death of our dear Queen Elizabeth II. It’s safe to say your workforce will be in need of a lift.

The International Week of Happiness at Work is just around the corner – running from 19th-25th September but with the Queen’s funeral taking place on the 19th, if you plan to mark this event, we recommend undergoing a swift pivot, renaming your event and delaying it by at least a week. Instead, we suggest all businesses hold an Appreciation Week starting no sooner than the 26th September. We’ll provide details of how you could organise such an event later in this article. But first, whether your business celebrates Awareness Days or not, this is one to take part in and here are five reasons why…

Five reasons why you should hold an Appreciation Week at work

It’s empowering

If you encourage people to think about their own skills, talents and achievements, as well as those of others, as part of the Appreciation programme, you could help restore/build their confidence or inspire them to set themselves new challenges within the business.

It will help staff retention

According to research, 55% of people planning to switch jobs gave a lack of recognition as their number one reason. 69% even said that better rewards and recognition would encourage them to stay on at the company. 

Despite there being so many ways that team leaders can show their employees that they’re valued, not enough is done. By holding a week in which everyone from the top down shows their gratitude and appreciation for their employees’ and colleagues’ hard work and results, you could kickstart a long term positive change.

It will bring your workforce together

Never before has remote working been so easy and many businesses are now struggling to get their workforces back into the office. If where your employees work is still being ironed out, this week is a great excuse to get everyone back together in person (and it might persuade some reluctant employees to spend more time there going forward too).

It will remind people that they can be happy at work

It’s been a tough few years but this is the opportunity to help your workforce fall back in love with their roles and their company. We’ll explain how later in this article.

It can be a boost to your company culture

Many businesses have seen their company culture suffer or even disappear over the last few years but introducing activities to the workplace that don’t actually involve “work” will really reverse some of the impacts of Covid-19 as they’ll help people to make friends and develop relationships.

It’s an opportunity to get people to open up

By asking people to think about what they’re grateful for and consider their feelings, it could spark some interesting conversation and may even help you identify people who could be in need of further help, particularly with the cost of living crisis putting pressure on much of the population.

It’ll help your business long term

According to the group behind the Happiness Week, happier employees are “more involved, more productive, more cooperative, more creative, and more innovative. They are less likely to call in sick and there is a decreased chance they will experience a burnout.” By building an Appreciation Week that helps people take a moment to appreciate themselves, each other and the business, you should build a happier workforce.

Hopefully, we’ve now convinced you to mark the week but just how do you do it respectfully, especially with limited funds and time? Let us explain.

How to hold an Appreciation at Work Week

Step 1: Get the message right

With the Queen’s passing, marking a Happiness Week will be seen as insensitive and disrespectful. Before you can start creating your plans for your Appreciation Week, you should agree the purpose of your Week as well as how it should be referred to.

Step 2: Get your senior team to commit

The organisers of the Happiness Week created a Happiness manifesto which all supporting organisations can sign to show their commitment to creating and maintaining a happy workplace. We recommend using this manifesto as a steer for creating your own Appreciation Week goals which you can then ask your leadership team to sign.

The official International Week of Happiness at Work week is essentially a launching point for a new way of working for a company, where everyone, from the top down, ensures the workplace is full of “fun, appreciation, positive feedback, awesome challenges, trust and meaningful results.” Consider how you can edit this to create something that works for your business.

Step 3: Plan

Once your senior team is on board (and a budget, if any, has been agreed), it’s time to plan the week. The goal is twofold: to inspire appreciation and satisfaction at work which means scheduling engaging and inspiring activities that everyone can take part in; and to encourage conversation and spark ideas about how the workplace can change to ensure it fulfils the manifesto your business is signing.

Step 3: Communicate

Let your employees know that the week is approaching and that you’ll be marking it with a series of events. Share the schedule and encourage people to attend the office as much as possible to participate as one company.

Step 4: Ensure you capture ideas

While a major part of your Week is to empower and show appreciation for your employees, you also want to ensure that this behaviour continues long term. To do this, your senior team will need to learn from across your workforce about what’s important and how things can be improved.

Make sure your leadership team has a clear diary for the week and organise a company-wide breakfast panel on Monday morning to set out the agenda, kickstart the process of showing appreciation and inform people of know how they can do the same as well as give their ideas for the future. It could be you use the session for employees to share initial thoughts either verbally or via a tool such as Slido.

Then, throughout the week, encourage team leaders to find time in meetings to brainstorm some ideas and gather feedback which can be correlated ahead of Friday when you can hold a wrap up panel and set out the company’s intentions to be better place to work.

Step 5: Organising the fun   

As well as holding workshops and other means of gathering views and ideas from your teams about how to make the workplace more supportive and appreciative, you need to bring some immediate rewards and recognition to the office with some simple fun.

Here are some ideas you could steal:

  • Start every team meeting during the Week with a segment on one thing everyone is thankful at work
  • Book a comedian to perform one lunchtime to the whole workforce
  • Invite experts in meditation, wellbeing, and motivation to give talks throughout the week
  • Offer free meals in the canteen one day
  • Book masseuses to ease everyone’s aches and pains
  • Finish early on the Friday and bring everyone together for free pizzas and drinks

Step 6: Hold yourself accountable for ensuring the company’s intentions are met

Hopefully you will have wrapped the Week on a high and given your workforce a good time as well as new hope for the future. Now it’s on you to ensure the business meets the promises it has made.

Put everything in writing, assign responsibilities and deadlines, and then share them with your leadership team so that the plan is clear. Then check in regularly to ensure progress is being made.

It may sound like a lot of work but there’s no better time to act and make a huge difference to your business. For further help, contact us today.