Former NBA player and coach Phil Jackson said it best: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Former NBA player and coach Phil Jackson said it best: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

And like players on a team, your after school staff play a critical role in creating a winning after school program. Individually, they each work hard and use their strengths, talents, and skills to ensure students are safe, learning and engaged after the school day.

For that reason, it’s important to show your appreciation for their daily contributions. Not only does it make staff feel proud and valued for their work, but it also yields positive benefits for your program.

Showing Staff Appreciation Pays Off

Staff appreciation isn’t just a nice-to-have. Recognizing and affirming your staff for their hard work also has a positive impact on your after school program and participating students.

When staff members feel valued and appreciated for their hard work, they experience increased productivity, have greater satisfaction in their work and have increased positive interactions with students and families. And several studies show that feeling appreciated is a top factor in employee happiness, which leads to a positive work culture.

Showing appreciation is also one of the best incentives for inspiring staff to work harder and continue producing great results. This simple quote from Gerard C. Eakedale sums it up perfectly: “Recognition is the greatest motivator.” And a motivated staff contributes to a positive learning environment, which in turn positively affects student performance and achievement.

4 Ways to Show Appreciation for After School Staff

There are a number of ways to recognize your staff for their efforts. But the key is to create a culture of appreciation that makes staff feel valued year-round. Here are a few ways you can show appreciation for your after school staff:

1. Just Say It

A simple “thank you” or “good job” can go a long way. Whether you’re recognizing excellent work or simply acknowledging the effort, positive feedback energizes staff and provides motivation for future tasks. And you don’t have to say the same thing over and over. Check out 35 different ways to say “great job” to your staff.

2. Staff Awards

We love this idea from the National After School Association! Presenting staff with awards for their specific areas of strengths is a great way to show appreciation. Some examples include Best Communicator with Parents, STEM Award and Most Positive. Award shows can be held each quarter or at the end of the school year. You can even allow students and their families to participate in the selection process!

3. Peer-to-Peer Recognition

While it’s great to receive recognition from “the boss,” it can be more meaningful for staff to be recognized by their peers. This gives them an opportunity to stand out for their day-to-day contributions that may often go unnoticed.

The key is to make it simple for staff to recognize each other for their work:

  • Provide call-out cards for staff to fill out and put them on display in your program.
  • Use apps like YouEarnedIt to make it easy for staff to share recognition and rewards.
  • Allow time in staff meetings to share recognition stories and provide positive feedback to one another.

4. Staff Lunch or Treats

Food is a simple way to say “thank you” to your staff. Surprise them with delicious treats, like assorted doughnuts or chocolate cupcakes. Or reward them with lunch on the house. Not only is it a great way to show appreciation, but it gives everyone a chance to socialize and get to know each other better. Win-win.

The after school staff works hard day after day to ensure students are safe, learning and engaged when the school day ends. Use these four strategies to recognize their work and foster a culture of appreciation in your after school program. To learn more, check out this Simple Recognition Strategy For After School Program Staff.