When was the last time you felt appreciated by your employer? In fairness, it’s not the most straightforward question to answer — for starters, you’ll need to determine what you consider appreciation to mean in the first place. Is it a quick ‘thanks’ via email? A bonus day added to your holiday allowance? A pay rise?
According to a recent study by Workhuman, nearly half of the 1,000 employees surveyed reported that they were thanked by their employers and colleagues sometimes, rarely, or never. And though I wish it weren’t the case, it’s a statistic likely to resonate with many of the readers of this blog — how many times have you worked extra hours or taken on additional responsibilities while receiving little to no recognition?
With the workforce having made it through the worst of a global pandemic only to be struck by a cost-of-living crisis, 2022 was a year characterised by a shift in employee priorities. Workers wanted flexibility and better work-life balance, of course, but they also wanted to be valued. If you’re an employer, then, you need to focus on how your employees are feeling.
As if by magic, along comes Employee Appreciation Day, providing an ideal opportunity to foster a sense of positive recognition. Whether you’re wheeling out small acts of acknowledgment (e.g. quick DMs on Slack to say cheers for work well done) or foundational rewards (e.g. set-in-stone company-wide benefits packages), you can make a big difference.
But you need to be careful. However good your intentions may be, taking the wrong approach to celebrating your employees’ achievements can end up making things worse.
Image: Know Your Meme
While I’ll concede that pizza is never a bad thing (and I say that as someone with an extreme intolerance to dairy), it shouldn’t be used in place of, you know, tangible benefits and bonuses. If your team just landed a major retainer worth thousands of pounds, offering them another 12” deep dish by way of thanks might come off as a little unappreciative, however tasty said dish may be.
2022 was a great year for Seeker, and while we consumed plenty of pizza, we also shared the spoils of victory and took time to highlight those who went above and beyond. A positive culture leads to positive results, and with Employee Appreciation Day upon us, it’s the perfect time to showcase how gratitude and recognition play significant roles in our achievements.
Twice-yearly pay reviews
The phrase “overworked and underpaid” is mentioned all too often here in the UK, with just 27% of UK employees saying they’d received pay rises in 2022. Pretty disheartening, especially in the context of the current financial crisis. Now more than ever, people need higher salaries if they’re to stay afloat on the ever-rising tide of inflation. That’s why at Seeker we review our team members’ performance and pay grades every 6 months. The result? Every one of our employees received a pay rise between 2022 and early 2023.
This commitment isn’t just beneficial for our team: it’s great for business, too. Happy well-compensated employees are more productive and motivated. In addition to more money, promotions also bring fresh job titles and added responsibility, resulting in professional and personal growth. This is just one reason why Seeker attracts some of the best and brightest in digital marketing. Many of you may have felt the indifference and lack of purpose that accompany ‘dead-end’ jobs. At Seeker, those jobs don’t exist.
Financial transparency plays a huge part in how we do business, too. During each of our monthly Town Hall meetings, we provide a detailed breakdown of our profit and loss, allowing every team member to see exactly where our money is going and how much net profit we’re generating. Sadly, only 17% of employers say that their staff members are completely aware of all the different factors that influence their pay raise eligibility (and how much their salaries might increase) — but at Seeker, we believe financial clarity is essential for building trust and promoting employee satisfaction. Why keep the facts and figures secret?
“I’ve always found annual performance review meetings a little archaic. A year is a significant period, during which a lot can change — not only at the business level, but also for individual employees.
Implementing a twice-yearly review structure means we’re able to reward our employees’ hard work sooner rather than later, and enables us to set achievable incremental milestones. Aside from this, if the company has performed well, we aim to distribute those benefits among our team, and our current biannual pay review system enables us to do so.”
— Gareth Simpson, Founder of Seeker Digital
Some superheroes wear capes. Others wear jeans and tee shirts. Some even wear snazzy hand-made cardigans (we’re looking at you, Sinead). The point is that the team here at Seeker is nothing short of amazing at what they do.
Whether they’re crafting compelling content on a range of topics from breastfeeding to bay-breasted warblers (lovely birds), securing coverage in esteemed publications, performing in-depth tech audits, or keeping a watchful eye on our cash flow, each and every member of the team is a superhero in their own right.
At Seeker, we’ve brewed up our own special recognition program called the ‘Seeker Superhero Award’. Each month, everyone gets to vote for the colleague they believe has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and the winner is announced during our monthly Town Hall meeting. This is an opportunity to give well-deserved recognition for everyone’s hard work, and the person with the most votes receives a £100 voucher for a store of their choice (as well as some special recognition on our social accounts). Want to see some of our past winners? Head to our Instagram page.
It’s a simple gesture, but it’s one we’re proud of — especially in light of the fact that research from 2022 proves that 75% of employees said they’d be more satisfied with their jobs if they received meaningful recognition at least once per month.
Less than 40% of UK adults took all of their annual leave allowances in 2022. With the UK standard for holidays set at just 28 days, it’s unlikely that this statistic was driven by employees having too much holiday allowance, so it’s reasonable to think it has something to do with our ‘always on’ work culture.
The WFH revolution, while advantageous in many ways, has led to our work and home lives blending into one another. And with workplace-related stress on an ever-rising trend, taking some clearly defined me time has never been more important.
At Seeker, we’re proud to offer a standard holiday entitlement of 36 days, consisting of:
- 27 days of base holiday
- 1 day to take your birthday off
- 8 days for bank holidays
Each year of service (up to year 4) boosts this allowance by 1, giving potential for 39 days total holiday entitlement — not too shabby, even if we do say so ourselves!
However, providing a generous holiday allowance is only part of the solution if you aim to give your employees room to breathe and decompress. You also need to foster an environment in which requesting time off is encouraged instead of seen as a sign of laziness or apathy. Balancing the needs of the business with the needs of your employees is key, of course, but if your current policy demands 4 weeks’ notice for 2 days out of the office then it could be time for a rethink.
“Our work is not life or death. There’s nothing that can’t be rescheduled if required. We set these boundaries with clients and explain how these policies help us attract such talented people.”
— Gareth Simpson, Founder of Seeker Digital
Here are Seeker’s golden rules for holiday allowance:
- Understand (and embrace) the need for flexibility. For example, given the importance of mental health, any Seeker employee is welcome to “take a day” at short notice if they’re not feeling ready and raring to work.
- Make sure your employees know that their holiday allowances are there to be used. Send out email reminders to the workaholics of the business encouraging them to take some time out — it’s for their own good, after all!
- Understand that time off isn’t always enough. If your employees’ schedules are so jammed that they’re rarely able to take days off, recognise that there may be a bigger issue at play — perhaps your team is under-resourced and needs more support, in which case you need to start providing that support.
WFH allowance and cost of living bonus
Since the pandemic, many businesses have remained firmly committed to hybrid or fully-remote work environments, and the move away from typical office structures is a trend that both managers and employees expect to continue.
Those who prefer to work remotely (and research shows most of us do) haven’t looked back. It’s part of the reason Seeker promotes an office-optional culture. Every team has one focus day per month, but apart from that, office attendance is voluntary — meaning everyone can work in their preferred environment. However, with the cost-of-living crisis showing little sign of letting up, many WFH-friendly companies are still ignoring the elephant in the room: energy costs. So, why not show your appreciation by addressing the problem head-on?
At Seeker, we’ve tackled the issue by boosting every team member’s pay by £85 per month (meaning we’re all able to feel a little bit cosier as we see the last of the cold weather disappear). To help with inflation, Seeker has also added an extra £1,000 (spread over 6 months) to take the sting out of the ever-increasing cost of, well, everything.
Using pay rises and bonuses to reward exceptional work will always be a good thing, but in light of the current economic turmoil (and the challenges involved in maintaining home offices), it’s important to remember that incentives don’t need to be linked to performance. Going the extra mile for your employees when times are tough will go a long way.
Training opportunities (and BrightonSEO!)
So many workers see their careers stagnate, caught in hamster wheels of monotony and routine. The good news is that there is an antidote — and it entails investing in their professional development and providing them with the tools they need to ‘level up’.
Seeker provides every team member with 6 days of study leave bolstered by a training budget of £2,000. Study leave can be used for completing premium courses, taking solo research breaks, or even doing some old-fashioned reading (we’ve more than a few bookworms here!). So, whether we want to sharpen our SEO skills online or spend half days at digital marketing masterclasses, we’re free to do so.
“Continuous learning and development are so important for personal and agency growth, and this is clearly a top priority for Seeker. Each employee has a £2,000 training budget per year, which can be used to buy courses and learning resources, attend training sessions and events, and more. Basically, if it helps you and your development goals, Seeker is keen to help!
“Personally, I massively benefitted from the personal training allowance as I took part in 121 mentoring with Hannah Smith (a Digital PR industry goddess). It was invaluable for the setup, development, and progression of the Digital PR department here at Seeker — and for my growth as a manager! This training made the step up to running and leading a department much more manageable.”
— Laura Mallinson, Digital PR Manager at Seeker Digital
We’re also regulars at the industry-renowned BrightonSEO conference (some of you lucky attendees may have tried our selfie booth at the Seeker stand last year). You’ll catch us there again in 2023, where we’ll be brushing up on our industry knowledge, promoting our work, and attending talks and courses — with all expenses paid, naturally.
Counselling, Headspace, and gym memberships
If you’re keen to create an environment conducive to the kind of creative, dynamic, and borderline-genius work that goes on here at Seeker (and we’re only half-joking about the genius part), include some health and wellness perks as part of your benefits package. Studies show that mental health benefits are now viewed as just as important (if not more so) than financial assistance.
Bonus pay packets and retail discounts are all well and good, but showing your employees a deeper level of appreciation can work wonders for their personal and professional lives — something our resident Digital PR superstar Sinead can attest to:
“I think employee appreciation and “great benefits” are only worth shouting about if you have tangible proof that they’re improving the lives of your employees.
As a dedicated netball player for 19 years, receiving a complimentary gym membership (allowing me to work on my endurance come rain or shine) is a huge win.
More importantly, however, it was through Seeker’s funding of my therapy sessions for the past year that I discovered I was neurodivergent. This revelation enabled me to be more compassionate towards myself, improve my job performance by playing to my strengths, and free up mental energy to tackle my (somewhat mountainous) list of hobbies.
The rest of the benefits are fab too, but knowing that Seeker is genuinely invested in my well-being as a person, not just an employee: that’s the stuff that truly matters to me.”
— Sinead McLarty, Digital PR Specialist at Seeker Digital
Seeker’s full wellness benefits include:
- A Headspace subscription
- A cycle-to-work scheme
- A gym membership (we have a corporate membership with PureGym, which has sites throughout the UK)
Job satisfaction survey
Get this: just 17% of British workers claim to love their jobs. That’s not great, especially since we spend around 9 years of our lives at work! The trouble is that simply asking your employees how they’re feeling about the work they’re doing is unlikely to elicit honest responses if done in person. Want genuine answers? Prepare an anonymous survey.
Allowing your employees to enjoy anonymity as they provide feedback makes it more likely that they’ll be truthful, blunt, and constructive — and it shows that you’re willing to take criticism and implement improvements. We get it: when you’re in a managerial position that functions through authority, it can be hard to embrace humility and accept your mistakes. But it’s massively beneficial, and can help everyone feel valued, understood, and supported.
“I don’t like the elitism that exists in this country. There’s a level of selfishness from big companies that, societally, we just seem to roll over and accept. As a result, the vast majority of workers aren’t receiving adequate recognition for their hard work.
Employers need to be more generous. Considering the size of Seeker as an agency, our benefits package actually puts some of those bigger businesses to shame. If we can afford to do these things, then they definitely can! Prior to founding Seeker, I often wondered why my managers were afforded privileges that weren’t extended to their teams. I built Seeker around the principle of equalisation — all employees can enjoy our benefits, bonuses, and flexibility. In my opinion, that’s one of the best ways to show your appreciation: by creating a level playing field.”
— Gareth Simpson, Founder of Seeker Digital