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5 Simple Gestures & Perks That Are Workplace Pixie Dust

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In today’s roaring economy, the war for talent is at a fever pitch. Companies that are looking for ways to improve their employment brand and worker experience to attract and retain workers need not rely on expensive additions to their benefits and culture (though of course splurging on this can help). Even small, thoughtful improvements can have a significant impact. Start by expanding the fun perks, rewards, and individual recognition that your company offers – these can be powerful components of employee engagement, attraction, and retention. Three-quarters of employees who say they are highly engaged at work also feel that the level of employee recognition is correct. Begin building goodwill at work with these low – and even no – cost ideas.

1. They Say It’s Your Birthday

In a recent survey of talent, 7 in 10 told us they would love to have the day off on their birthday, yet only about 1 in 10 enjoy that simple perk. What an underutilized, easy to implement idea! If your company doesn't go for this, are there other birthday recognitions that can be considered – what about free lunch or coffee in the cafeteria (or gift cards if there’s no food on site). Scratch off lottery tickets are fun, as are movie passes. Come on – it’s their birthday!

2. Project PR

Borrow an idea from the sales department and start promoting big wins and accomplishments across the organization. Think about the unsung heroes in Accounting or Facilities? Are you marking the delivery of a big project, implementation, or process improvement? Gestures like this help people feel like their contribution is part of the bigger mission of the company. While management can select recipients,  having workers suggest colleagues for recognition is a great way to build camaraderie. Monetary rewards or plaques are lovely, but if budgets are tight don’t underestimate the power of the written word. A company-wide email and a handwritten note from the department head or, even better, CEO goes a long way.

3. Pop-up Post-Its

It shouldn’t take the implementation of a new phone system to get a fist bump. Sometimes just handling a demanding customer with finesse, or voluntarily proofreading something for a colleague, or pinch-hitting on a pitch deck deserve a shout out. How smile-inducing would it be to find a note taped to your workstation acknowledging your good corporate citizenry? Ask any parent:  reinforcing the nice and good begets more nice and good.

4. Now THAT’S Brilliant

Elevate the ol’ employee suggestion box to an ideation/innovation incubator. When an employee comes up with a crackerjack idea to improve the way things run or how employees feel at work, celebrate both the improvement and the genius behind it. Have employees vote on the best idea of the month, quarter or year to get even more mileage and participation in the program.

5. Hall Pass

If you don’t offer remote work options, consider giving your employees a pass to work from home one day, no questions asked, once a quarter seems reasonable.  Or this pass could also apply to an additional day off – to be used as a mental health day when employees feel like they just need a break from the grind. If you’re in a managerial role, remember, most of these ideas can be implemented on a team level if, say, your company isn’t motivated to make such organizational improvements.  Chances are you will have the most motivated, happy, and loyal direct reports as a result. Humans have a visceral need to be seen, heard, and valued. These simple ideas are a memorable way to communicate how important an employee is to a business’ success. And they are sure to become talked about features of your employment brand, helping differentiate you as a destination employer in a competitive talent market.