REI has been making massive waves this holiday season by closing nationwide on Black Friday. Both the corporate offices and the retail branches locked their doors and turned off their lights, but the employees still received their holiday pay. All REI employees celebrated Thanksgiving with their families, not having to lose out on pay by missing a day of work, and enjoyed Black Friday while hiking their favorite trails. As adventure is the REI mission, they have proven that they make it a priority.
In previous years, it has been a big deal when stores announce that they won't be open on Thanksgiving. For a store to close on the biggest shopping day of the year is unheard of. However, there is a good chance that it will not hurt REI's profits for the year. This is because both employees and customers view REI as such a family-friendly, honorable business that they will be more likely to shop there during the other 364 days in the year. It has also started a dialogue across the country regarding the importance of engaging employees in a positive way.
Engaging employees and introducing creative employee appreciation ideas, especially through means that allow them to enjoy an appropriate work life balance, does more than just make the employees happy for a single day or event. It allows the business to retain the employees for the long term and attract more employees as the business grows.
For example, with REI's bold move, they are not only setting the stage for their employees to be happier. They are encouraging them to be hard-working and loyal. These employees are not going to want to lose or give up a position at a company that shows them how much they are appreciated.
By lowering the rate of turnover within the company and fostering an environment that is loyal, REI will ultimately have to spend less on training, replacing, and recruiting. They will be able to depend on the people they have currently, and allow the existing employees to move upward and laterally to their best fit in the business.
Not all acts need to be as extreme as closing on Black Friday to show appreciation. There are much smaller tokens of appreciation that a company can implement in order to show their employees that each and every one of them is valuable to the success of the business.
Here are several employee appreciation ideas:
- Tell the world. When employees, a group or an individual, are doing great things, spread the word via the company newsletter, a press release, or social media.
- Say thanks with food. Don't simply put out a box of donuts you picked up on the way into work. Provide them with a catered meal and accompanying party to give them a chance to unwind after all their hard work.
- Give gifts and bonuses. Everyone loves to have a token of appreciation, especially one with dollar signs. Although, even small tokens the employees can keep at their desk reminds them that their hard work doesn't go unnoticed.
- Recognize their passions. Many companies allow employees to use a limited amount of their paid work time on a project they feel is important to the company, even if it isn't a direct order from their boss. It shows them that their superiors trust them to make decisions and propel the company forward in ways they may not have thought of.
By incorporating employee appreciation into the culture of a workplace, it is also fostering an environment that retains the right kind of employee.