• 3 Mini-Case Studies in Employee Appreciation

    Share your heartfelt thanks this Employee Appreciation Day!

    Celebrate genuine workplace gratitude and teamwork for Employee Appreciation Day on March 3. (Photo via AFGE, Flickr)

    Employee Appreciation Day is this Friday, March 3. To get ready, we combed the news for case studies in effective, original employee appreciation to inspire your efforts.

    What makes a good employee appreciation program?

    Hppy’s infographic Top 10 Best Workplace Incentives has three criteria for worthwhile employee appreciation.

    First, it reduces turnover. Watching coworkers quit in frustration is demoralizing. It feeds gossip and unhappiness among staff and slows down productivity.

    Unappreciated, stressed-out employees will eventually seek happiness elsewhere, “joining the 2.7 million people who quit their jobs each month,” according to Hppy. “And as any HR professional knows, turnover is the bane of corporate existence. It takes at least 20 percent of a person’s salary to replace them — not to mention the time and energy you’ll spend conducting interviews and reading applications.”

    Second, it saves money — but maybe not immediately: “Many companies hesitate to start incentives programs because of the costs it will incur. But these costs are relatively small compared to the money you’ll save in the long run.”

    Third, it generates good. Ultimately, employee appreciation is “about creating a better workplace — and a better world,” according to Hppy. “Take Facebook: they offer moms and dads four months of paid time off to spend with their new baby, plus pay adoption fees. By supporting parents, Facebook contributes to a more stable, family-oriented society.”

    Great Employee Appreciation = Attitude + Action

    We’d add a fourth criteria for great employee appreciation: a strong, genuine sense of gratitude. Without clearly communicated gratitude, employee appreciation efforts fall flat.

    Gratitude is also essential to your company brand.

    Lack of gratitude drives job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism and burnout. It sours the culture. According to gratitude expert Robert Emmons, quoted in the Fast Company article “The Science of Gratitude and Why It’s Important in Your Workplace,” expressing thanks is the remedy.

    “Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for,” he says.

    Truly effective employee appreciation is a balance of action and attitude.

    According to the Association for Talent Development, “Appreciation requires more than behavior; it requires ‘heart attitude.’ This is really the difficult part of appreciation — it has to be genuine. You can’t fake it.”

    Inspirational Examples of Employee Appreciation

    Gratitude-filled employee appreciation helps your team stick together, focus, innovate and pursue excellence. Here are three case studies of employee appreciation done right. Be inspired — and don’t forget to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day on Friday!

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  • Gallup Report: Time to Reinvent Employee Recognition

    Employee recognition "wake up" call from Gallup

    Gallup’s latest in-depth report is a “call to action” for a more engaged leadership providing ongoing, effective employee recognition. (Photo via COD Newsroom, Flickr)

    Grab your coffee, Gallup is serving business leaders a wake-up call.

    Employee recognition needs to be a top priority, according to Gallup’s massive 2017 State of the American Workplace.

    Experts at Gallup are calling the report a “call to action” for companies, starting with a complete overhaul of employee recognition and engagement strategy.

    The old ways of managing employees just aren’t working, and change isn’t optional.

    Released last week, the 214-page report is Gallup’s first comprehensive survey of the U.S. workplace in four years. Gallup bases its research on data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees, 31 million respondents through Gallup’s Q12 Client Database, and insights from Fortune 1000 companies.

    It’s a lot of data to unpack — but it’s incredibly useful. The report gives HR leaders and managers an in-depth look at how they’re doing across the board. It’s not a rosy picture.

    If you’ve been following Gallup’s excellent month-to-month workplace research, some of the report’s data won’t be surprising. Engagement numbers are still dismally low — only 33 percent of American workers are engaged at their jobs, and productivity continues to decline. More than half are looking for work elsewhere.

    But the report also provides new data and insights into why employees aren’t more engaged or productive. Again and again, the data points to a need for more engaged leadership and much better employee recognition.

    The once-a-year model of employee recognition just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    What Do Work-from-Home Trends Tell Us About Employee Recognition?

    Download Gallup's "2017 State of the American Workplace" and learn why employee recognition is the #1 priority.

    Download Gallup’s “2017 State of the American Workplace” and learn why they believe employee recognition is the #1 priority.

    The popularity of working remotely is having a big impact on engagement. Back in 2012, when Gallup was doing research for its last State of the American Workplace report, working outside the office didn’t appear to have much bearing on employee satisfaction.

    Back then, “Gallup found that the ‘optimal engagement boost’ happened for those who worked remotely less than 20 percent of time,” according to The Washington Post.

    Now the Gallup data shows that working remotely 60 to 80 percent of the time produces the most engaged employees. That’s more than triple what Gallup found four years ago!

    As the Post’s Jena McGregor points out, the engagement potential in these figures isn’t surprising: “People feel most plugged in to their jobs when they have some balance — a little bit of face time and camaraderie at work, and plenty of time to hunker down and get work done from home while avoiding the headaches of going in to the office.”

    But why the dramatic shift in four years?

    Wider acceptance of working remotely along with improvements in technology “may play some role,” McGregor writes, but the primary explanation comes down to thoughtful, ongoing employee recognition.

    Jim Harter, chief scientist for workplace management at Gallup, attributes the trend to companies that are “doing more to help remote workers get it right.” Better manager training, clearer job descriptions and easier collaboration systems are helping remote workers feel, well, more at home.

    There’s also a psychological element. One of the best predictors of employee engagement is how long and how often employees are able to “get in the zone.” As Harter explains, “when you work remotely, you certainly have more of a chance to get absorbed in your work.”

    What about the rest of us? Not everyone has the luxury of working remotely. The biggest industries — such as healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and hospitality — still depend on workers who show up and work full-time on-site.

    The general lesson here is that management needs to be better about listening to, communicating to and recognizing employees, no matter where they’re located.

    The Fundamental Role of Employee Recognition

    “The very practice of management no longer works. The old ways — annual reviews, forced rankings, outdated competencies — no longer achieve the intended results,” according to Gallup.

    “The business world is failing its increasingly diverse workforce in an era when people want different things out of going to work,” Tampa Bay Times business columnist Robert Trigaux concludes in his analysis of the report.

    Often, the missing key to engagement are employees who don’t understand or feel connected to the company’s mission. Fixing that comes down to better communication — clearer goals and more frequent, more meaningful recognition.

    “The modern workforce wants a job that feels meaningful,” according to the Gallup report. “They need to be able to see clearly how their role contributes to the success of their team and organization.”

    Managers can start making changes today, without waiting for institutional change.

    Ed O’Boyle, a workplace expert at Gallup, talks about the five conversations managers can initiate with employees to “learn more from your team and drive greater business impact.”

    O’Boyle will be one of three Gallup experts discussing the 2017 State of the American Workplace report in a free webinar this Wednesday, Feb. 22. The webinar will cover how to “expand employee engagement from a survey to a culture pillar that improves performance,” how to transform performance management to motivate employees, and how to clarify communication for employees who work on multiple teams.

    Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace is a wake-up call. It also provides the blueprint for exciting innovation, growth and a new kind of employee recognition. If the workforce of today “defies convention,” as Gallup concludes, the HR response must also defy convention.

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  • 9 Free Resources to Inspire Workplace Kindness

    Want to inspire wworkplace kindness? Read on for free resources to help.

    First step toward a kinder culture? Smile! And take advantage of the many free resources to help your organization build workplace kindness. (Photo via Kamil Porembiński, Flickr)

    Are you inspired by Random Acts of Kindness Week to build workplace kindness in your organization?

    Now’s the time to start. Only one in four employees feel valued at work, a 16 percent drop from last year, according to the TINYPulse 2017 Employee Engagement Report.

    “Managers are falling behind in their recognition efforts,” the study concludes.

    Worse, only 24 percent of employees feel connected to their peers — “11 percent lower than last year, and this gap is causing cross-functional frictions.”

    Where are the positive trends? Among the growing number of companies that 1) commit to improving culture, and 2) prioritize frequent feedback.

    “The top factors related to employee happiness turn out to be the intangible ones such as interpersonal relationships, culture and work environment,” TINYPulse researchers write. “Benefits, work-life balance and flexible schedules, surprisingly, don’t have a strong impact on employee happiness.”

    So building a culture of workplace kindness is no longer the “nice thing to do” — it’s a smart, strategic move backed by research as a driver of employee performance, motivation and retention. But it can be hard to know where to start — or, if your company is already working on an engagement strategy, how to move forward and constantly improve.

    Good news: from research analysis to podcasts, there are tons of free resources out there to inspire you. Read on for a list to help you and your team create a unique strategy for a better culture of workplace kindness in your organization — this #RAKweek2017 and beyond!

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  • To Build Workplace Kindness, Try Empathy

    workplace kindness all starts with empathy

    Kindness is a powerful way to break up workplace stress, and it starts with applied empathy. (Image via Sean MacEntee, Flickr)

    Random Acts of Kindness Week is here! In honor of the importance of kindness, let’s build more workplace kindness together this week.

    Kindness is a powerful way to build engagement, encourage well-being and break up workplace stress.

    Celebrating kindness reminds us to incorporate it more into all aspects of our everyday life — with family, friends and our communities. Ever tried sharing unexpected kindness? It’s contagious and creates a ripple effect of shared goodwill and feelings of appreciation.

    But what exactly causes people to act in kind ways? It starts with empathy. And the effects of a more empathic workplace culture go beyond kindness and less stress.

    “In the workplace, empathy is often portrayed as a requisite tool for emotionally intelligent leaders. But perhaps more notable is the strong effect on performance,” Forbes columnist Jessica Amortegui writes in her post, “Are You Using Apple’s Secret Skill at Work?”

    Read on to find out what empathy is exactly, why it’s needed, and how one company is systematically and methodically using “applied empathy” to beat workplace stress and create a healthier, happier culture.

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  • How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Workplace

    Celebrating workplace friendships is why you should celebrate valentines day in the workplace!

    There’s another way to frame a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration besides romance. It’s a celebration of workplace friendships! (Photo by Tyler Burrus, Flickr)

    Planning a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration may seem like a tricky proposition at first glance — drawing attention to romance, among coworkers? That’s an HR headache waiting to happen!

    But there’s another way to frame a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration: as a celebration of workplace friendships and the strong bonds that develop between people who work closely together.

    “We all need friends at work,” writes University of Kentucky provost and management professor Christine M. Riordan, for Harvard Business Review.

    At a time when employee engagement is at an all-time low, it’s important to recognize the power of friendship in the workplace, according to Riordan.

    Why Workplace Friendships Deserve Celebration

    “Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. … Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work,” Riordan writes.

    But workplace friendships are about more than camaraderie and fun.

    “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together,” she writes.

    Friendships are particularly vital to the happiness, motivation and productivity of Millennial employees, according to a LinkedIn study.

    Another demographic is seeing an increased reliance on friendships: men. According to a recent survey, men are forming more meaningful relationships with other men. And that could have a “transformational” effect in the workplace, according to the Fast Company article, “How Men’s Changing Friendships Might Reshape the Workplace.”

    “We already know how workplace friendships can be vital, energizing and meaningful. In addition to their upsides for individual well-being, they also impact team performance, adding another level to the instrumental ways we rely on each other and collaborate,” researcher Michael Kimmel writes for Fast Company.

    “We men are also learning that workplace friendships, with both women and men, can be a reason we show up for work every day. We let down our guard, share what’s important, and listen with care. And our lives — in the office and outside it — are so much richer for that.”

    Read on for tips on how to plan a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration that reflects the transformational power of friendship between coworkers.

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  • Get Ready! Random Acts of Kindness Week 2017 is Feb. 12-18

    How will your organization celebrate random acts of kindness week?Random Acts of Kindness Week starts in just a few days! Are you ready?

    We love RAK Week as an opportunity for employee engagement: it’s fun, it’s positive and it connects people in a genuine, memorable way. Celebrate it in the workplace and also with the greater community using the #RAKWeek2017 hashtag on social media.

    Workplace kindness is something we all could use a little more of — incivility at work is “rampant” and on the rise, according to Christine Porath.

    Porath is associate professor of management at Georgetown University and author of the new book, “Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace.”

    Lack of kindness has real psychological and bottom-line costs in the workplace, according to Porath’s research. It’s also commonplace. In 2011 half of surveyed employees said they were treated rudely at least once a week, up from a quarter in 1998.

    Porath’s findings are the result of 14 years of research polling thousands of workers at every level in a wide variety of industries about how they’re treated on the job. It’s eye-opening stuff.

    And it’s not all doom and gloom: Porath is also in a unique position to offer perspective on how to make our workplaces kinder. In anticipation of Random Acts of Kindness Week, let’s take a closer look at Porath’s work and the science behind building workplace kindness.

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