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Awards are a big deal in the military. Giving them out is one of the most common ways of acknowledging positive behavior. Your business can capitalize on this by adopting the habit. Major accomplishments should always be celebrated, of course, but you can also reinforce good work by praising smaller achievements:

Give recognition for reliability. Reaching milestones of numbers of days without taking a sick day, or number of hours worked without a safety violation.

Praise in public. Awards don’t have to be expensive or even physical. Sometimes just telling people that they’re doing a great job in front of their peers is enough.

Celebrate non-work-related accomplishments. Got a marathon runner in finance? Tell everybody. Your receptionist’s band is playing a gig at a local coffee shop? Organize a get-together to go listen.

Think "green." Money talks—raises and bonuses don’t have to be huge to be effective. A weekly gift card given to the top performer in a certain area is a small price to pay for what could potentially be a big motivator.

SHOWING APPRECIATION QUIETLY

Even if your military employees aren’t “in the spotlight” kind of people, a little recognition will go a long way. Here’s how you can celebrate your veterans without putting them on the spot.

Mark your calendar. Make veteran-related holidays a big deal, such as Military Spouse Appreciation Day on the Friday before Mother's Day, and use them as an excuse to identify employees who have served (or are currently serving).

Throw an annual party. Celebrate your veteran and spouse employees annually through a recognition or social event that includes families.

Consider decorations. Offer veterans and military spouses a way to distinguish themselves through a pin or athletic bracelet.

Show others you care. Educate your civilian employees on requirements of your National Guard or Reserve employees.

Give them a voice if they want it. Give your veteran employees the chance to share their story when appropriate (internal newsletters, etc.).

Acknowledge their awards. Celebrate military accomplishments (like promotions) of currently serving National Guard and Reserve employees.