As I write this, I'm on a bit of a road trip with my husband and co-founder, Dave. 

We're heading from San Francisco to join the ThirdLove team in our Chico office. It's customer service week, and since our team in Chico consists mostly of Fit Stylists--the people who interact directly with our customers--we're using the week to celebrate them and the work they do. 

Throughout the week, there are a number of activities, games, or food offerings in the office, and on Friday during customer appreciation week, we shut the office down and held a party for the team from 4-8 pm--which is what Dave and I are driving in for. We like to make the most of opportunities like customer service week for a very simple reason: employee recognition is a crucial part of running any business. Recognizing team members for the work they do is about letting them know that you know they're contributing in a meaningful way. 

Without recognition, people can begin to feel like their contributions don't matter. They'll be less likely to do anything beyond the most minimal interpretation of their duties, and your entire office culture will begin to suffer. 

Luckily, celebrating employees for the work they do isn't difficult. You just have to keep a few rules in mind.

1. Come up with custom ideas for each team.

Every team has its own personality and preferences. And if you're running multiple offices, you have to understand that each of them will develop its own culture and concepts of achievement independently. 

For example, our customer service team in Chico is not the same as our team in Argentina. They're two different groups, working in different countries, focused on different aspects of the business. For Chico, we use this week as an opportunity to have a weeklong celebration and punctuate it with a party. The team in Argentina likes to hold a holiday party, which we fly down to join. They also hold monthly cookouts and give out ThirdLove-themed swag like backpacks and shirts. 

Each office or team should feel comfortable with the way they recognize teammates. If you're fair and flexible about budgeting resources between teams, then it shouldn't be a problem to have a little diversity when it comes to recognition. 

2. Celebrate moments that are relevant to the company.

No matter what your company does, there will be holidays, company achievements, or celebrations that are specific to you and your business. Use those relevant moments to recognize and reward your team for the work they put in throughout the year. 

For example, on National Lingerie Day, we gave all the women on our team a new bra style we recently launched along with a pair of underwear. For the men, we reached out to the men's underwear company Mack Weldon and offered a swap--if they hooked our guys up with their underwear, we'd do the same with ThirdLove gift cards for the women on their team. It worked out beautifully, and everyone walked away with some underwear. 

Whatever makes your company unique, look for moments to celebrate it and recognize your team's contributions. 

3. Set traditions for company-wide recognition.

Celebrating your team's achievements shouldn't be an irregular, top-down process. Ideally, you want to involve the entire company and create a tradition of recognition that people can count on. 

For example, at ThirdLove, we've been holding company value awards every quarter since 2016. Leaders throughout the company, in all our offices, nominate someone on their team they want to recognize for the way they exemplify the values of our company. Then, at the end of each quarter, five of the nominees are chosen to receive the award. Each of them is given a $500 Amazon gift card and they're added to the list of past winners. 

But before we announce the current quarter's winners and talk about why they won, we take a moment to recognize all the past recipients of the award. It's a good way for people to continue to feel recognized for their work, and it lends an air of tradition and continuity to the awards. 

We also use the tool Bonusly so that teammates can give each other shoutouts and earn credit towards gift cards and other rewards. Monitors around each of our offices showcase a feed, which provides a way for our team to publicly recognize each other in real time, and to learn what others are working on. 

4. Find quiet moments for recognition.

While it's great to publicly celebrate teammates for their accomplishments, work anniversaries, or even birthdays, it's not the only way to go about recognizing their contributions.

In fact, many people are happier with more low-key recognition. One way Dave and I like to do this is by finding some time to personally email teammates who we know are doing great work on an important project. It's not a company-wide shoutout, but a quieter acknowledgement that we know the contribution they're making. 

Whether you do it personally or in front of the entire company, recognition is essential to not only your company's culture, but it's growth and potential for success.

Published on: Jan 7, 2020
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