Most of us have probably not heard of National Employee Appreciation Day. According to Wikipedia, it’s an “unofficial holiday…gaining in adoption in the U.S. (which) has become an opportunity for managers, company leadership, and HR to remember the importance of appreciating employees”.

My name’s Nick and I’m the owner and MD of Appetite4Recruitment. Rewarding employees and recognising their contribution to a business is something which has real personal resonance for me. Let me explain why.

Back in the day…

In the early 2000s, I got my first job in recruitment for a well-known high street company. My job was to place talented temporary and motivated secretaries and administrators into clients’ businesses. At the time I joined we had no business! A cold desk.

I was a hungry young man who wanted success for himself and to be the very best at what I did. During a hectic 2001, I became determined to be my regions top biller – I was going to work as hard as it took to get to the top of the table. I often worked four hours more a day than my very colleagues constantly finding new clients, meeting new applicants while the process.

I may have taken a holiday that year – to be honest though, I can’t remember. All I really remember from that time was making absolutely sure that I climbed the table one new booking at a time.

After 12 months of sheer persistence and hard graft, I made it – I was the top performer in my region. Result (!) and with 110 temps in offices daily I relied on rolling time sheets and new workers.

Being top of that leader board wasn’t the highlight though

Climbing that ‘league table’ was great. As a young man, I earned more money that year than I expected, genuinely not focusing on the money. The highlight was the award I won from my company for having the highest billings which I received at an end of year award ceremony/ party!

The recognition of my peers and my managers meant an awful lot, so much so it’s still something I think about today every now and again and it still brings a smile to my face. In any job – including jobs in recruitment consulting and catering – you have to love what you do to do really well at it on a consistent basis. When others recognise that effort and they decide that it’s worth giving you an award for, that takes the feeling to another level.

Transferring those lessons across to Appetite

Not long after this brief experience, I set up Appetite and we’re now in our 15th consecutive year of business.

To reward and recognise our team’s individual achievements:

  • employees never have to work on their birthday
  • we recognise the top biller every year
  • recognise the company’s most productive employee every quarter
  • arrange team days and nights out

The experience I had nearly 16 years ago shaped me as an employee then as an employer. I’ve made certain that my staff benefit from what happened to me and I’m finding that more and more of my clients are using reward and recognition schemes within their businesses.

Incorporating reward and recognition into hospitality

More and more companies in the hospitality sector use reward and recognition to retain and to motivate their staff members.

For example, Best Western’s customers have been challenged to “find the jewels in Best Western’s crown” when staying as a guest, reports Big Hospitality. The staff members singled out can then use their vouchers to collect reward points and the company also send them a jewel pin to celebrate their excellence in service delivery.

The Exclusive Hotel Group, based in the South of England, launched their “Wow!” Award allowing team members and managers to nominate their colleagues to recognise great service in the business. Management report that it has triggered a wider discussion within the group about how to deliver “Wow!” experiences between staff members and to customers.

On the Continent, 150-branch Italian restaurant group, Vapiano, run monthly recognition awards in addition to a new bonus scheme and training opportunities. Each branch spends around £400 a month on activity days which improve staff-management relationships, engage employees more, and boost team spirit.