Toolkit: Say a virtual ‘Thank-you’

Wherever we are getting our work done these days, we know that being appreciated matters.  Not only does it improve satisfaction and boost retention rates, but according to studies, 75% of employees surveyed agreed that motivation and company morale would improve if leaders simply thanked their people in real-time for a job well done.

So, in the hybrid working environment here are some simple ideas to say ‘thank-you’ that will surprise and delight every personality in the team – why not suggest some of these to your leaders?

For those that like things to be straightforward

  • Just say ‘thank-you’

Very obvious we know, but saying “thank you” is the simplest gesture and the one we often forget. If you want to show sincere appreciation why not call or send a WhatsApp saying something like “You did a great job.” or “Thanks for all your hard work”.

  • Ask them

Everyone wants recognition for their contributions, but not everyone feels recognized in the same way and it’s worth remembering that they may want to be appreciated differently if they’re working from home.  So why not ask them “How can I show you I appreciate you right now?

  • Involve them in decision making

Sometimes the mere act of asking an opinion is enough to make that person feel like he or she adds value. It can be tempting as a leader to want to have all the answers, but next time you’re in a meeting try sharing a problem and ask for their input.

For those that love private recognition

  • A handwritten note

It sounds so simple, but if you have ever received a handwritten thank-you will know how good it feels (for the person writing it too!)

Douglas Conant, the former Campbell’s Soup CEO, takes this practice to the next level. Conant says he wrote at least 30,000 thank-you notes to employees over the course of his 10-year career. He committed about an hour each day to writing thank you’s, an eternity in a busy Fortune 500 CEO’s schedule. He usually made time for it during his commutes or while traveling.

For those that love public recognition

  • Rotating Trophy

During your online meetings, consider giving out a virtual trophy of the week for someone who goes above and beyond.

  • Hold an impromptu 10 minute Zoom call

Schedule an impromptu online meeting “I’m going to be online this afternoon at 2pm” and give your team the option to join if they’re free or watch the recording.   Take the opportunity to tell team members “thank you” for their hard work. The surprise meeting, combined with perhaps a special treat, throws people out of their same ol’, same ol’ routine.

  • Acknowledge them in meetings

What better way to say thank you to the team than by acknowledging them in meetings? When someone has a good idea, performs above and beyond, or does something worthy of mentioning – it is always a good time to acknowledge it in front of their peers.

  • Write them a great LinkedIn recommendation

A great way to tell the world why you appreciate someone and help their future career too.

For those that are hungry to learn

  • Offer up some time to work on a project they are really keen on

If a team member has had their eyes set on a particular project and it can be done remotely, see how you can get them involved as a way to appreciate them and it can also serve as a professional development opportunity where your team get to try new things.

  • Buy them a book from kindle

One of the best, and least expensive ways to do so is to send them a great book in the area they want to learn about.

  • Introduce them to a mentor

Say thank you by investing a little time in their career growth. Introduce them to someone either internally or externally that could become their online mentor/coach.

  • Get them a conference pass

Ask them which virtual seminars, workshops, and conferences they’d like to attend. These can be a great way to say thank you and have them learn something new.

  • Invest in their development

There are many online learning providers – so encourage your team to take the time in their working day to learn new skills as a way of showing your appreciation. Even better give them their own learning budget to spend with something like Learnerbly

For those that appreciate the flexibility

  • Give them time off

There is nothing that shows appreciation more than being trusted to manage how, when and where we do our work. An extra special thanks might be giving a spontaneous day/afternoon off.

For those that like to give something back

  • Contribute to their cause

This can come in the form of time off to volunteer in their community or a small monetary donation to a charity of their choice. Not only would this allow your people to feel like they are giving something back, but it would also help them know you care about their personal beliefs and values.

For the team member who likes to be centre stage

  • Celebrity shout-outs

Dribbble uses Cameo to surprise its employees with shout-outs from celebrities. Since its workforce is 100% remote, Dribbble, has to get creative when it comes to recognizing the team. One of its favourite ways to show its gratitude is by using the Cameo website (many of the celebs are donating the money they make to charities to support covid-19) to order short videos in which celebrities give a personal shout-out to employees who’ve gone above and beyond. These videos are then played at team meetings so the whole team can get in on the fun.

  • Wall of fame

Snap photos of your team’s accomplishments or take candid shots of them hard at work. Celebrate their contributions by creating an online Wall of Fame.

  • Say it on Social Media

Dedicate part of your website homepage to say thank-you, post a comment on your social media platforms with a photo – even better if your customers see it too!  

For those that like to feel special

  • In-home experiences

Blueboard is a great example of a recognition and incentives platform powered by hand-curated experiences. They make it easy for companies to give meaningful rewards, incentives and gifts—and at the moment the are offering some great ‘in-home’ experiences from online cookery classes to learning to sing.

  • Name something after them

Name a project or even a product after them to show how much you value them.

  • Celebrate work anniversaries for the right reasons

This shouldn’t be the boring engraved gold watch for time served, but a celebration of their value and what makes them special to your organisation – join companies like Sony Music and Uber who use online reward provider Snappy to send their people digital gifts straight to their homes!

For the healthy ones

  • The gift of wellness

What better way to say thank you than by supporting your people’s health and wellbeing, particularly at times like this? Give them a subscription for their favourite online workout or just extra time in the day to pursue their passion for keeping fit.

For the team players

  • Peer to peer

For some it will be as (or even more) important to get appreciation from others in the team as it is from their manager.  Introduce a way that peers can recognise each other through e-cards, social media high fives or even giving each other gifts. 

General Motors (GM) partnered with engagement app provider Achievers to launch their recognition programme, which included a one-click recognition feature that makes it easy for any employee, including leadership, to recognize others. They achieved a 97 percent activation rate and, more importantly, people leaders at the company send an average of four recognitions per month and eight out of ten managers send recognitions monthly.  

  • Gamify the rewards

The SnackNation Member Success Team (MST) designed a recognition program in which team members earn badges for hitting milestones related to their most important metrics. Think of it like a video game achievements program come to life – complete with custom-made badges for unlocking milestones and participating in team campaigns. MST employees are awarded in elaborate fashion during the team’s weekly department meetings.

  • Use a public recognition feed (with points!)

Kazoo’s social-media inspired recognition platform means peers can recognizing one another for the whole company to see and engage with in real time. They can earn points for each piece of recognition they receive and can cash in their points for fun and meaningful rewards and experiences — like donating money to their favorite charity, gift cards, or buying more points to send to their peers.

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4 comments on “Toolkit: Say a virtual ‘Thank-you’

  1. Salima Shariff on

    Great reminder about the many ways to give recognition and a Thank You. Above al,l get to know your people as human beings and consider the right approach for them as individuals.

  2. Zahid Khokhar on

    It’s so important to remind colleagues that they’re doing a good job especially in this current climate, where we search for the smallest bit of positivity to keep us motivated.


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