By Rob Catalano, VP, Global Expansion and Engagement at Achievers

A survey conducted last year by job site Monster.co.uk found that more than half of British employees feel underappreciated at work.

Some managers think that’s related to salaries, but research shows that there’s little or no correlation between compensation and employees’ sense that they’re appreciated by the company, and in a still-shaky economy, many businesses don’t have the funds to raise compensation levels anyway. Showing more appreciation to your staff in other ways is a more realistic approach, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

In the United States, organisations nationwide have been celebrating the first Friday in March as Employee Appreciation Day since 1995, thanks to the pioneering work of Bob Nelson, an employee engagement guru and proponent of the power of recognition. Brits deserve recognition too – it’s time for a new national holiday to recognise all the contributions British workers make to the economy. There’s a real need to increase engagement levels. A Kenexa study found that the UK ranked ninth amongst the 12 largest economies in terms of employee engagement, possibly due to the widespread sense of under appreciation in the labour force.

Since we’re in the employee recognition business, the Achievers team would naturally get behind such an effort. But we can offer more than just moral support – we can provide practical advice to help you pull off a new recognition scheme, one that isn’t just confined to a single day but rather an engagement programme that lasts all year long.

Here are four ways to improve employee engagement through recognition:

1. Don’t be afraid to say it. Some employers think they have to provide a monetary reward or gift to recognise employees who go above and beyond. But while material things are nice, it’s important to speak up when an employee is performing well. Send an email, encourage colleagues to compliment the employee verbally or write an old-fashioned thank-you note. This is a quick and easy way to recognise great work.

2. Keep it real. While it’s great to recognise employees who go beyond expectations, it’s important to make sure the appreciation is genuine and that employees are earning praise for actions that are aligned with the organisation’s goals and values. An award for most accurate football predictions probably isn’t the right strategy for an accounting office. Giving sincere appreciation for actions related to the work is best.

3. Make it social. Recognising employees and colleagues publicly is great for team building and can inspire others to succeed. Achievers uses an Employee Success Platform™ newsfeed to keep our team up-to-date on colleagues who are making a difference worldwide. Another favourite tactic we use to reinforce great performance is to publicly recognise employees who excel during our daily meetings.

4. Recognise someone every day. Once you get into the habit of looking for random acts of competence and great customer service to recognise, you’ll find that the challenge is to narrow it down to just one praise-worthy incident per day. Providing recognition creates a virtuous circle, with outstanding performance that is rewarded inspiring new contributions every day. That’s how you can build a thriving workplace culture.

There’s no reason Americans should have all the fun; it’s past time that the UK had its very own holiday to recognise employee contributions. Companies can take the lead by setting aside a day to recognise all employees for being a vital part of the team, not only because greater appreciation levels will improve staff satisfaction but because it will increase engagement levels, resulting in better performance. But once a year isn’t enough. By following these tips, you can build a more engaged workplace culture – and make every day Employee Appreciation Day.