workplace gratitude in action - first day on the job!

This is what workplace gratitude looks like! LSUchick142 posted this photo to Flickr after her first day at a new job. (Creative Commons)

What does workplace gratitude in action look like?
Beyond the data, the research studies and advice from experts, what are companies actually doing right now to successfully show appreciation and build gratitude among employees?
We regularly scout out and highlight the best current examples of forward-thinking or compassionate workplace gratitude (see previous gratitude posts here) and another post here.
This time around we discovered more mini-case studies of employers building gratitude, whether they’re doing it with a special one-off celebration or through years of dedication to build a vibrant workplace culture.

5 Mini-Case Studies of Workplace Gratitude

If your company’s employee appreciation program is feeling stale, read on for inspiration and ideas to rejuvenate it!

1. Developing ‘Intrapreneurs’
Oil Country Engineering Services Ltd. is a Canadian drilling rig design consulting firm in Edmonton, Alberta, that takes an innovative approach to developing growth in its employees. The Globe and Mail newspaper describes the company as having an “off-beat office culture.”
Significantly, Oil Country aims to nurture each employee’s inner entrepreneur, or “interpreneur.” Giving employees the freedom and opportunities to be entrepreneurial “is essential for Oil Country to keep its competitive edge,” writes The Globe and Mail’s Joel Schlesinger.
“The formula has been successful so far. Oil Country has a loyal client base, grown by word of mouth, and a reputation for out-innovating competitors,” Schlesinger writes.
This attention to employee development isn’t just good for the company. The company’s co-founder, Christy Benoit, says it’s not uncommon for spouses to express gratitude for the positive change they’ve seen at home after their partners began working at Oil Country.
2. A Big Show of Appreciation
Sometimes the best show of appreciation is, well, a show. This traditional but time-honored way to celebrate employees never gets old, especially for workers who are regularly on duty during tragic situations.
In Cleveland earlier this month, the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP) hosted a bluegrass concert for local law enforcement, fire and rescue and emergency medical personnel. The appreciation event happened in conjunction with a workplace safety training.
“Emergency responders work tirelessly and are often not recognized for their efforts,” Kristi Greene of NASP told the Shelby Star newspaper. “NASP wants these individuals to realize that they are appreciated,” she added.
3. ‘A Selfless Example For Us All’
A Tampa airport gift shop employee is being honored by her employer after she selflessly gave her coat to a distraught traveler. Sherilyn Joseph was working at the gift shop in January when Lynette Kozelenko came in looking for her lost coat and gloves, which airport staff were unable to locate.
“I just felt I should do something to help her. I wanted her to be warm and have a blessed trip,” Joseph says in the Tampa Tribune article.
The company that owns the gift shop, World Duty Free Group, is thanking Joseph for her quick-thinking good deed by sending her on an expenses-paid trip to London.
Joseph’s kindness “epitomizes the spirit of hospitality and the exceptional customer service that we encourage at World Duty Free Group,” says president Padraig Drennan. Her actions are “a selfless example for us all.”
4. Appreciation Tradition Keeps Hotel Staff Loyal
In a Forbes in-depth feature last week, staff writer Leigh Gallagher finds out exactly why employees love staying at Marriott.
The average tenure for a hotel general manager at Marriott International is 25 years, compared to a much lower industry average. Marriott has been on Forbes’ Best Companies to Work For list “all 18 years of the list’s existence, something only 11 other companies can say,” Gallagher writes.
Loyalty like this is notable for an industry that isn’t “cool” and generally can’t keep employees around very long.
“Marriott isn’t Google,” Gallagher writes, adding:

“Jobs in the hospitality industry […] are about as far from Silicon Valley chic as you can get. The company’s employees — more than 200,000 of them, and 361,000 if you include the franchised properties — are scattered around the globe, not concentrated on a cool campus. Rather than writing code, most of them spend their time catering to, and cleaning up after, guests.”

But Gallagher has discovered in talking with Marriott employees that the word “family” comes up with unusual frequency. “They rave about their workplace and their colleagues. And they stick around,” she writes.
Why? Founder J.W. Marriott created the company with an enduring philosophy of workplace gratitude: “Take care of the associates, the associates will take care of the guests, and the guests will come back again and again.”
“It runs through the DNA of the company,” Gallagher explains. The philosophy manifests itself in hiring strategies, fantastic perks and benefits, training and mentorship opportunities, regular get-togethers for managers and the fun “stand-up” meeting that begins every shift for all hotel employees.

5. ‘Deep-Rooted Care’ Grows Business
Our last example of workplace gratitude comes from a company much, much smaller than Marriott International.
Paula Sims of Macon, Ga., started Community Development Systems, Inc. in 2001 with just one employee: herself. The Telegraph, a Georgia newspaper, recently profiled Sims in the article, “Macon woman’s compassion helps drive her business.”
Soon Sims was getting so much demand for her family counseling services that she needed to expand the business and hire employees. It was a difficult transition going from self-motivated entrepreneur to head of a company, and she knew nothing about HR, she recalls.
“HR is the biggest piece of where your liability lies. I was out there swimming and didn’t feel like I had a life jacket,” she says. She survived by constantly reading, studying and seeking resources to learn more.
Her caring nature and thirst for knowledge paid off. Now she’s running a thriving company with 12 employees, 30 to 35 contract employees and a recently opened satellite office.
“I think more so than anything, it’s that deep-rooted care and concern that she has for the people she’s serving,” Sims’ accountant told the newspaper.
Sims considers her leadership style as “a great example of lead by example.” Since she built the business from the ground up, she knows how to bring the best out of her workers to increase productivity. She also shares her vision regularly with employees: “I can see business opportunities on the horizon — really clearly.”
For a comprehensive guide to growing a sustained workplace culture of respect, trust and appreciation, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
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