The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many people view their employers. Some workers have grown appreciative of the care and consideration that their managers have shown them, while others have become frustrated at how poorly the situation was handled. According to a survey by PeopleMetrics, 55% of employees are unhappy with how their employers responded to the pandemic. While most employers like to celebrate and reward employees around the holidays, there’s value in making small gestures throughout the entire year. Even during a pandemic with staff working remotely, there are creative ways to show your employees how much you care. Here are 6 small gestures you can make that won’t cost your company much. 1. Share a Few Kind Words Sharing praise with your team members and giving them recognition for their efforts can have a lasting impact on your staff. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, only 1 in 3 employees report getting positive recognition for their hard work over the previous 7 days. Your words have power, especially if you’re in a leadership role. The most memorable recognition from respondents came from their direct manager (28%) or a higher-level leader or CEO (24%). There are many ways to recognize your employees. You can pull them aside individually, praise your team members directly in company meetings, or write out your encouragement in a card or email. Consider what each employee would prefer and select that format for the best results. 2. Host a Virtual Office Party Office parties are typically when employers celebrate employees with food, games, and gifts. With the pandemic limiting gatherings and driving people to remote work, in-office parties have become a thing of the past—but that doesn’t have to be the case if you host virtual get-togethers. Consider hosting a virtual office party with awards, icebreakers, and games. You can even gift each team member a DoorDash or Uber Eats credit to order food for the online event. A digital office party can bring employees closer together and encourage collaboration and improved teamwork. Additionally, these virtual parties can provide some much-needed socialization—especially considering the months of isolation from lockdowns. 3. Create Superlatives and Awards Another creative way to share praise with team members is with superlatives—or designations of exceptionalism. If you offer superlatives, there are a few important guidelines to follow. First, make sure nobody is left out. This allows you to get creative with awards like “The Most Punctual” or “The Most Organized.” You can also ask employees to nominate their peers for various superlatives anonymously and share positive quotes from people who recommend them for different titles. Finally, have fun with these awards—and go big. Consider printing certificates for in-office workers or sending digital ones to remote employees. You want people to feel recognized but also don’t want to create stress or jealousy around different titles. 4. Give Your Team a Half Day Many employees have holiday hangovers following the end of the year. People put a lot of energy and effort into holiday shopping and end-of-year quotas, so it can be challenging for most people to get back up-to-speed quickly once January comes. Considering this, it may be a good opportunity for you to give employees some extra time off through partial work days. Maybe let your staff clock out a few hours early on Fridays or come in late Monday mornings. This small gesture can go a long way with your employees and may even help them acclimate back to work more smoothly. If you need team members to be on call even when the company is closed, stagger these days so that everyone gets a little extra time off without impacting your overall productivity. 5. Send Digital Gift Cards If you want to give a little extra to your employees, you can send gift cards digitally to arrive in their work inboxes. These don’t have to be expensive: you can give in $10–$20 denominations just to let your team members know you care about them. When choosing gift card options, make sure you get something anyone can use. Avoid gift cards to specific restaurants, and never give cards to bars or liquor stores. Look for universal options like Target, Visa, Walmart, and grocery chains—that way, there’s something for everyone. And don’t forget to consider options from your local small businesses. 6. Launch a Monthly Perks Program If you are looking for ongoing ways to reward team members, consider offering a “perk of the month” program and picking a different team member each month as its recipient. This might mean getting a favored parking space for 1 month or having a longer lunch break for an employee during the next period. Keep working through your staff list until everyone has enjoyed a special perk and then start the process over. A Small Gesture Goes a Long Way All of these small gifts and comments are completely optional, but they can have a major impact on the morale of your employees. Your team members go above and beyond for your business—so it’s always nice to send some love back their way. Not only can small gestures go a long way to improving employee satisfaction, but it can increase productivity and improve your bottom line.