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10 Ways to Appreciate Employees Like a Pro

employee appreciation

Employee appreciation is an important component to the overall success of your club. Having staff that feel recognized and appreciated for their hard-work and initiatives in the workplace can go a long way in relation to their continued performance and the amount of employee retention your club maintains — along with the quality of employees that want to work for your club.

“A happy club is like a magnet that attracts talent,” said Jules Philippi, the programming manager at the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC). “Fostering a culture of happiness sets people up to evolve and grow. If they are unhappy, they will evaporate and leave.”

WAC understands the importance of employee appreciation and takes different efforts in making sure their employees know their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Derek Deprey, the general manager and director of training and development for WAC, believes that praise and recognition start with the leaders of a company.

“Praise and recognition definitely start at the top,” said Deprey. “A primary driver of engagement is how a leader communicates with his or her team. Genuine praise is the most important form of communication.”

10 Ways to Appreciate Employees Like a Pro:

1. Have a system in place to recognize important moments. “I recently had a chalkboard painted on my wall for the staff to capture WAC Moments, [which are times team members go above and beyond for members and guests]. When a team member walks through my office, they might see their name on the board. Or, they can add a moment to the board that I might not know about, so that I can go praise the person, too.”

2. Implement a peer recognition program. “We have a peer recognition program called our WAC Bucks program. We reward WAC Moments with WAC Bucks,” said Deprey.

Some of his favorite WAC Bucks that have been written over the years:

  • “Thank you for running out into the cold to look for a member’s pair of gloves in the parking lot.”
    “Thanks for driving a member home after he rolled his ankle.”
    “Way to make a two-and-a-half-year-old feel comfortable in the kids’ club by speaking in French, the only language she knows.”
    “Thanks a billion for showing a deaf member new equipment and doing sign language with him.”

3. Random acts of kindness. “I recently sent my two maintenance technicians to lunch with my credit card. Just a simple way for them to bond about life after a hard morning of cleaning extremely high ceiling fans on a lift,” said Deprey.

4. Make your employee feel like a rockstar. “A few months ago, we hired a new personal training intern named Andy,” said Deprey. “I invited Andy to shadow with my regular trainer, Justin, during my routine physical training session. I praised Justin during most of the session in front of Andy to help teach him what Justin does well. Justin felt like a rock-star, and Andy learned a ton along the way.”

5. Host a team-outing. “We love to do team-outings,” said Kim Miller, the service manager at WAC. “This September, we’ll be doing a full team, family and pets picnic/cookout at a local park.”

6. Keep it personal. “We have a private team member Facebook Group where we are constantly posting pictures of team members doing awesome things, such as work anniversaries, birthdays, team member personal accomplishments [such as weddings/due dates/engagements],” said Philippi.

7. Take a minute (and a half) out of your day for a small gesture. “I like to write handwritten notes and to insert a mission/core values card,” said Philippi. “Then, I like to circle the core value that I’m praising them on to get laser-specific. Last year, I timed how long it took me to write a handwritten note, and to my surprise, it was only 90 seconds.”

8. Hold a team-member appreciation event, like the WAC Awards. Giving awards that highlight an attractive trait of a team-member’s personality can make them feel recognized and appreciated. Some of the awards Wisconsin Athletic Club gave at the event:

  • “Most likely to greet each member with a smile, their name, and kind eyes.”
  • “Most likely to let their personality shine and be memorable.”
  • “Most likely to own and immediately resolve problems.”
  • “Most like to have fun and create a home away from home.”
  • “Most commitment to making health and fitness a part of their life.”

9. Start the day off on a positive note. “We start all our meetings in our organization by sharing WAC Moments,” said Deprey. “Then, we dive nuts and bolts into discussions. We start energized!”

10. Give a gift. “We highlight team members who help create success stories for our members,” said Philippi. “For example, one of our wellness coaches and her client has a poster displayed in the club with their pictures and their story. We gifted the team member $100 in club cash as a form of praise.”


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