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Everyone likes to be appreciated and employees at utility companies are no exception. But do they know they’re valued? Do you know that employees who feel valued are more likely to provide quality customer service?

Every employee, in one way or another, impacts your customers. Even employees who have no direct contact with customers have an impact on them through the services they provide to staff members who do. Thus, it’s in your utility’s best interest to make sure that all employees receive recognition for their efforts. Besides, they deserve to be honored for a job well done.

Here are 15 ideas for demonstrating employee appreciation.

No 1. Mail a personalized note to each of your employees at their home thanking them for their hard work and dedication. If possible, acknowledge special accomplishments, length with the company or anything that personalizes the message. Create a plaque with their name on it that sits in the lobby for the world to see. I recommend “1001 Ways to Reward Employees” by Bob Nelson as a resource for those looking for ideas on employee recognition.

No 2. If your company has a newsletter, print a thank-you letter from the president, chief executive officer or department vice president that shows appreciation for employees’ efforts.

No. 3. Hold an internal open house. Encourage departments to visit other departments so everyone can see what it takes to run the company. Every department, job and employee is valuable.

No. 4. Surprise your employees with a small gift each day of national Customer Service Week in October. Small gifts are a great way to let them know you care. Possible gifts include a donut on everyone’s desk, a gift certificate to a movie, a small candy bar, a balloon inflated and tied to their chair and a gift certificate for an ice cream cone.

No. 5. Have a “trading places” day when senior management spends an hour or two on the phones while customer service representatives supervise them. This exchange can have benefits far greater than expected.

No 6. Focus on exceptional customer service representatives by giving them a special reward or a mention in the company newsletter or both.

No 7. Name a “Customer Service Rep of the Day” or an “Employee of the Day” for each day during a special employee recognition program. Send an e-mail to announce the daily winner. Ask the winners to present some of their success tips and techniques at the next staff meeting.

No. 8. Distribute special awards or certificates of appreciation. Acknowledge outstanding customer service and special victories. Acknowledge those who took a risk even if it didn’t bring the expected results. Reward those who try.

No. 9. Decorate the department with posters, banners and balloons to create a festive atmosphere.

No. 10. If appropriate, encourage the staff to decorate their cubicles or workstations. Make it fun.

No. 11. Recognition is not just about saluting the top performers; it’s about recognizing people who improve their skills every day to provide better customer service and sell more products and services. Your investment in recognition will have a stronger impact when it touches more people.

No. 12. Recognition is not just the annual awards banquet or the monthly meeting where people are acknowledged for their efforts. Recognize a positive attitude or behavior immediately. Compliment and reward people when they are using those skills they have learned. Create that special recognition award that you can put in their hand to reward them on the spot for a job well done.

No. 13. When you hear a positive remark about an individual, repeat it to that person as soon as possible.

No. 14. Ask your employees for their ideas on how they would like to be recognized for a job well done. You might be amazed by the low-cost suggestions they share with you. The more personal the recognition is to the employees, the more impact your efforts will have and the longer they will remember it.

No. 15. Most companies have a hard time investing money in something that doesn’t give them measurable results. Establish a process to measure the impact that recognition has on sales and service. Survey the customers, survey the employees and track sales or productivity before and after you implement the recognition program.

Studies show that most employees place a high value on simply being recognized or being complemented for a job well done. Many employees are looking for a pat on the back or a work environment that spurs them on to do outstanding work. I guarantee there will be a trickle down to your customers and that they will notice.