Workforces are trickling back into office buildings and teams are rejoining in person after a long pandemic-related hiatus. It feels a bit like starting over, doesn’t it? While safety is the number one priority, it’s also critical to view this period as an opportunity for employee appreciation.
What is Reboarding? According to HR Daily Advisor,
“Reboarding is the concept of bringing individuals back who were previous employees but away for some period of time. The idea is to modify onboarding for someone who is already familiar with your company but has been away.”
Here at gThankYou, we are extremely optimistic about the potential for reboarding across all industries in businesses of all sizes. While there will be the necessary burden of policies, daily minutia, schedule conversations and so much more, there is also the gift of a restart — and employee appreciation.
What if NOW was the perfect time to shift your leadership mentality? What if you lead all efforts in the “return to normalcy” with a mindset of employee appreciation? We recommend welcoming employees back with a few things in mind that could shape or reshape your culture for years to come.
As we emerge from the challenging pandemic to some sense of normalcy at both work and in our personal lives, it’s an ideal time to check in on how we are speaking to ourselves. Many of us had extra time alone with ourselves during the pandemic and while some people seemed to flourish, many of us struggled with added loneliness, stress, grief, and anxiety. Often our own internal voice during this time was our toughest critic and harshest judge. The transition back to an office or to a job can be rough right now.
There is no better time to show ourselves some compassion and grace.
Workplace Burnout Has Worsened During Pandemic
NPR’s Life Kit recently addressed the growing problem of workplace burnout. They shared results from a survey supported by Harvard Business Review from the fall of 2020 which indicated that burnout is a global problem (respondents were from 46 countries) that has gotten worse during the pandemic.
Here are some statistics:
- 89% of respondents said work life was getting worse.
- 85% said well-being had declined.
- 56% said demands had increased.
- 62% of those struggling to manage their workloads experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in previous three months.
- 57% of employees felt that pandemic had a “large effect on” or “completely dominated” their work.
The Workplace Has Changed
Our work lives have been transformed by the pandemic. Despite the optimism brought by vaccine approvals, the fact remains it may be a long-time before we are back to business as normal, if at all.
This new world of work provides both challenges and opportunities for recruiting, nurturing and retaining employees. Workplace leaders recognize the value of being creative and adaptive during these times.
Josh Bersin, HR industry expert, sees this time “as an incredible opportunity to transform”. “Companies are treating employees better than ever.” There is a new focus on protecting employees’ “personal productivity, wellbeing and personal resilience.”
Rethinking Employee Engagement and Appreciation
Our Employee Celebration Calendar could not come at a more needed time.
We have created a resource that presumes social distancing and remote work will dominate 2021. And, one that provides the inspiration and creative ideas to help keep employees feeling valued and important to the success of your organization in the uncertain year ahead.
Take advantage of this unique time to invest in employee engagement. Our popular one-of-a-kind resource provides the fresh perspective and resources you need to retool your employee appreciation efforts for today’s workplace.
Showing appreciation is even more crucial now.
As Sabina Nawaz wrote in a Harvard Business Review article about how a little thanks goes a long way:
“Research clearly indicates expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. During a crisis, taking the time to thank others is vital to dampen loneliness, amp up social connection and generate generosity.”
We’ve curated a collection of impactful and inspiring articles, resources, best practices, stats and quotes that will help guide you through 2021.
The year ahead may still present challenges, but it also provides new opportunities to build connections with employees. Eileen McNeely, a Harvard School of Public Health researcher, shared that her team’s studies indicate that caring and empathy from management and employee trust in management is a “great driver of well-being.”
As we wrote in the intro to the 2021 calendar, we’ve seen success stories emerging during the pandemic that underscore what we have known all along — HR leaders are nimble, creative and passionate. The calendar is a reflection of gThankYou’s commitment to helping workplace leaders who continue to create loyal workforces and cultures of appreciation, even during a pandemic.
Your free 2021 Employee Celebration Calendar will guide you through each month with:
- Research-based suggestions for building a culture of gratitude.
- Monthly celebration ideas to engage employees.
- Recommendations for current, topical resources.
- Inspiring and current real-world examples.
Don’t wait! Download your free copy now and share with colleagues. We hope the new year brings fresh optimism and hope for the future. Visit our website for more free resources for building a lasting workplace culture of gratitude.
Your friends at gThankYou
Thanksgiving is America’s holiday of gratitude. It will never be canceled. But it will be different this year. Smaller gatherings, no travel and reunions going on-line.
In these times, gratitude means more than ever. Your staff has conquered unprecedented challenges we never imagined. Your team deserves all the recognition you can offer.
Unite in a Spirit of Gratitude
If your workplace family can’t be together in person this year, have you considered a virtual Thanksgiving event?
Colleagues have grown accustomed to meeting and socializing via platforms like Zoom. According to Business of Apps, Zoom was seeing 200 million daily meeting participants in March 2020 and 300 million in April. The week of Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to bring together your remote workplace community for some online warmth, positivity and gratitude.
What about your annual office Halloween party?
Health experts recommend skipping in-person gatherings this year — especially in areas with high COVID-19 levels. But you can still have plenty of spooky seasonal fun online.
Holiday parties have always been a great way to help employees bond and burn off stress, and to recognize their hard work. That matters more now than it ever has.
Mix some fun and creativity and you can host a virtual Halloween party! Your colleagues will appreciate the efforts to keep the Halloween spirit alive despite the pandemic.
Here’s how to get started:
Your Turkey Gift to Employees is More Important than Ever
The pandemic has changed lives and dramatically changed our workplaces.
For many of us, we have lost the in-person connection with employees – the ability to smile, share a handshake or genuinely thank someone in person.
Employees need to feel secure right now in knowing that they are valued. If you have company holiday traditions that are near and dear to your team, respect them. Find a way to make them work in our new work world. Many employees are relying on that cash bonus or holiday turkey gift that they have always received.
Thanksgiving and the holiday season have always been an opportunity for workplace leaders to share their gratitude and appreciation to employees. Your appreciation and thanks are more important than ever this holiday season.
The gift of a Thanksgiving turkey has long been a valued and meaningful gift for employees. The tradition of turkey gift-giving is revered by many companies, and for some, distributing frozen turkeys is a beloved tradition that is decades old.
This year especially, the practical gift of food is something everyone can appreciate and can share with family. The gift of the centerpiece of the holiday meal is a truly meaningful and appreciated gift by all.
If you are new to turkey gift-giving, download our free PDF, “10 Reasons to Give Employees a Turkey for the Holidays” and share with colleagues.
Pandemic Makes Frozen Turkey Gifts Unpractical and Unsafe
The reality of a literal gift hand-off this year brings about a variety of challenges.
Firstly, safety is paramount. Commitment to employee safety continues to be in the spotlight for good reason. The pandemic means leaders can’t go desk to desk shaking hands; gatherings of employees exchanging pleasantries and holiday goodies simply isn’t feasible or legal in some cases. And, a socially distanced line of masked employees to receive a frozen just isn’t that safe or appealing.
Secondly, many workforces are partially or wholly remote at this point making frozen turkey gift-giving logistics simply unfeasible.
No need to worry! gThankYou can help.
You can keep your beloved turkey gift tradition this year with gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates. Employees choose the brand, preparation and size turkey that their family would like, at major grocery stores nationally. No messy frozen bird logistics to manage plus flexibility in distribution for in-person and remote workplaces.
This summer doesn’t look or feel like most summers. If you traditionally host a staff picnic, BBQ or summer retreat, it’s likely that the pandemic prohibited you from holding those events.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have summertime fun. While the heat of the season is here, host a virtual ice cream social!
Consider providing team members with a Certificate for Ice Cream from gThankYou which can be redeemed for any brand and flavor of ice cream at major grocery stores across the U.S. Certificates are available in $5 and $10 values.
You can even make a “ice cream sundae to-go bag” for remote workers and include shelf stable toppings such as sprinkles, chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce and cones.
Share your Ice Cream Certificates prior to your planned virtual event so everyone has a chance to shop and be ready for the party. If you prefer, or have workers outside the US, partner with a local ice cream shop and have them supply and deliver the ingredients.
As workforce leaders find their way through the COVID-19 world, defining ways to keep remote workers happy and engaged is of utmost importance. Remote working isn’t new to the world of work, but for many industries and people, it’s a brand new endeavor.
According to the New York Times, “In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.).”
According to SHRM, “This working arrangement may seem exciting at first, but it can lose its appeal over time, resulting in disengaged employees. And, when employees aren’t engaged, their productivity and motivation can suffer.”
As passionate champions of happy, productive workplaces, we’ve gathered some suggestions for embracing remote workers to keep the engine running on all cylinders.Maybe your New Year’s resolution for the year was to get organized and plan ahead for employee engagement activities at your job. The year is winding down but that doesn’t mean you still can’t take advantage of the helpful tools and creative ideas to energize the holiday season in your workplace with gThankYou’s Day-to- Day Employee Celebration Calendar.
A lot of great things can happen in the next three months and this how-to guide will aid you in building an everyday culture of appreciation. Each month includes dates to celebrate and a mini-case study.
October’s focus is on fun, November includes tips on writing a meaningful Thanksgiving Letter for employees and December delves into what our employees really want for the holidays.
Fourth quarter is also a great time to plan for next year!
We’ll be launching our updated Employee Celebration Calendar soon – newly updated and full of fun ideas and inspiration for your planning. It’s the perfect supplement to building out your employee engagement plans for the new year.
Create Your Own Employee Engagement Calendar
Need inspiration to start on your new year planning?
Christina Thompson, writing for Quantum Workplace, has outlined some excellent strategies for creating a custom calendar. It’s a great way to start working through your plan thinking. She advises asking yourself questions about the following topics and consider the communication needs and timelines that come with each:
Happy Halloween! It’s the perfect holiday for dressing up, eating candy, carving pumpkins and having some workplace fun.
But in all the fun, don’t forget a key element: recognizing and thanking employees. It really is the secret to planning effective and worthwhile fun activities in the workplace.
A report released this week shows many companies have their priorities mixed up when it comes to engaging employees with workplace fun. What employees actually want doesn’t always match what employers think they want.
The report is based on a survey by HR systems firm Sage People. It asked workers for opinions on various workplace benefits and conditions.
Quirky perks like a job-site ping pong table got a resounding “meh” from employees. Meanwhile, 72 percent of those surveyed said that feeling valued and recognized is what they value most when it comes to their day-to-day work experience.
“The research reveals that while many companies invest in quirky benefits to keep staff happy, employees aren’t impressed,” the report concluded.
Does this mean ping pong tables, games and fun activities don’t belong in the workplace? Not at all! Having fun at work builds creativity, engagement and teamwork.
But it isn’t reasonable to install a pool table in the break room and expect employee engagement to automatically go up.
Perspective, and a culture of appreciation, must come first. That means a) listening to employees, and b) incorporating appreciation into day-to-day work as well as special celebrations and activities.
Of the employees surveyed by Sage People, a whopping 42 percent said they have never been asked by their employer what they believe would improve their work experience.
“The findings show a disconnect between the benefits employers provide and what employees want. This failure to listen is costing businesses in the form of reduced productivity levels and a disengaged workforce,” the report says.
Engaging blue-collar workers may be one of the biggest engagement challenges facing HR today.
Hourly workers are unhappier than salaried workers in many job aspects, according to recently released Gallup poll data.
A Harvard Business Review analysis concluded, “People working blue-collar jobs report lower levels of overall happiness in every region around the world. This is the case across a variety of labor-intensive industries like construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing and forestry.”
Retention is a big problem, too. The “new blue-collar” industries, such as foodservice and hospitality, grapple with it on even bigger scales.
And there’s the skills gap.
The historical loss of manufacturing jobs has hurt communities across the U.S., yet currently “a significant number of manufacturing jobs remain open with not enough people to fill them,” according to HR Dive. “The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) predicts that U.S. companies will be facing two million job vacancies by 2025. And the American Welding Society contends that manufacturing industries will need 300,000 welders and welding instructors by 2020.”
One expert, Jobcase CEO Fred Goff, tells HR Dive he blames the skills gap on an “image problem.” Young people for decades have understood that the best way to a rewarding career is through a college degree and a job in finance, marketing, law, engineering or teaching.
“The ‘image problem’ that these blue-collar fields face has finally come home to roost — and employers are struggling to make up the difference,” according to HR Dive.
Make it a goal this summer to check out employee engagement books that will inspire and challenge you, whether you’re planning a major “think week” or just have 15 minutes a day to read over lunch.
Get a head start on engagement planning for this year by exposing yourself to fresh ideas and perspectives. Spark your creativity!
According to Kevin Kruse, consultant and NYT bestselling author of “Employee Engagement 2.0,” employee engagement is often misunderstood.
That lack of understanding is holding back American companies.
In an interview with Business Management Daily, he calls engagement “one of the secrets behind so many of my companies.”
Yet it’s surprisingly rare.
“Only about one-third of the workforce is truly engaged at work, and we’ve been stuck at this number for about two decades. This is really a shame as life is too short to be unhappy at work,” Kruse says.
In short, effective engagement leads to a workforce that cares.
“A sales person who truly cares about organizational results will sell just as hard on a Friday afternoon as she would on a Monday,” Kruse explains. “An engaged service rep will be just as patient and helpful at 4:59 p.m. as he would be at 9:00 a.m. An engaged factory worker will yank the cord to stop the line every single time a defect is noticed.”
Want to see this level of passion and caring at your company? Make it a goal to read one or more of these employee engagement books, based on decades of experience and research into building vibrant, engaged workplace culture.
Earth Day is April 22 — did it sneak up on you? No worries, we’ve got last-minute ideas for fun, easy employee activities for Earth Day!
Everyday employee engagement is built through rewarding, everyday activities. Even the simplest team-building activities can energize and bring people together.
And celebrating Earth Day in the workplace isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for people, too — and your business, according to USA Today columnist Steve Strauss, a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship.
Some benefits are obvious, as Strauss writes in a recent USA Today column.
Reusing and recycling are money-savers, there are tax benefits for going green, and green practices are good branding and popular with consumers.
But there are other benefits that are more behind-the-scenes.
“Healthier work environments work better,” Strauss writes. “According to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20 percent decrease in number of sick days for companies that actively promote a healthier workplace.”
Last but not least, “going green will boost employee morale,” he writes. “Having a green workplace is increasingly an important consideration for employees. In-demand millennials especially will appreciate your efforts.”
Read on for employee activities for Earth Day that are fun for your staff and easy for you to coordinate. You may even be inspired to make Earth Day every day!
Here’s an employee Thank You idea that’s easy to take advantage of even last-minute: International Picnic Day and it’s always June 18! It’s the perfect opportunity to recognize your staff and celebrate the beginning of summer.
Employee disengagement is notoriously high in the summer. Distractions abound. Even if an employee isn’t about to leave on vacation (or recently returned), nice weather and summer activities can distract even the most focused of employees! Now’s the time to reinvigorate your recognition program with a team-specific or all-company bonding event like a picnic.
Keep it simple with a Friday afternoon barbecue on-site, or plan a bigger party with employee families at a nearby park pavilion where everyone can enjoy volleyball and other team games, swimming, face-painting for kids, listening to music or simply getting to know each other outside of work.
However you celebrate International Picnic Day, remember it’s important for leadership to share a heartfelt employee Thank You with everyone at the gathering. A token of appreciation, like a personalized card or small gift, is a nice touch and will make your Thank You more memorable!
Read on for tips to turn your International Picnic Day celebration into a recognition success.
It’s no secret that it’s essential to engage workers if you want optimum company performance. And who doesn’t? In the next few weeks we’ll look at ways to engage workers across a variety of businesses. Here’s a closer look at how to engage manufacturing workers.
The power of workplace engagement
First, some overall information about employee engagement. Alison M. Konrad, a professor of organizational behavior and the Corus Entertainment Chair in Women in Management at Ivey Business School addresses engaging workers in “Engaging Employees Through High-involvement Work Practices”:
“Employee engagement can be critically important to competitiveness in the contemporary business environment. The Gallup Organization, which studied employee engagement in 7,939 business units in 36 companies, found that employee engagement was positively associated with performance in a variety of areas, including increased customer satisfaction, profitability and productivity, and reduced employee turnover.”
Recent research suggests that high-involvement work practices can develop the positive beliefs and attitudes associated with employee engagement, and that these practices can generate the kinds of discretionary behaviors that lead to enhanced performance. Simply put, employees who conceive, design and implement workplace and process changes are engaged employees.”
Employee engagement has three related components, she writes:
- Cognitive—employees’ beliefs about the organization, its leaders, and working conditions
- Emotional—how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organization and its leaders
- Behavioral—the discretionary effort engaged employees bring to their work in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy devoted to the task and the firm
She cites organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler and his colleagues, who have identified four interlocking principles for building a high-involvement work system. Managers should provide employees with:
- Power—to make workplace decisions
- Knowledge—through training to build their skills and enable them to implement decisions effectively
- Information—about how their actions affect business unit performance
- Rewards—for their efforts to improve performance
Quantum Workplace’s Employee Engagement Trends Report defines engagement as advocacy, or the level at which employees advocate for their employers, plus the level of discretionary effort they put forth, plus their intent to stay with the organization. Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, writing for Forbes about global talent management issues, says engagement is about social connections and aligning work with cultural needs. She goes on to discuss ways the best places to work for demonstrate appreciation for contributions, including the importance of workplace celebrations.
What Employees Want
Quantum Workplace asked employees what types of recognition they like and want the most and if they thought it was given enough or not enough. Across the board, all types of employees, from engaged to contributing to disengaged to hostile, ranked a pay increase as their number one preference for recognition. No surprise, praise from a direct manager, more flexibility with work and opportunities to learn and advance rank high too. Team celebration ranked as an important form of recognition, making it a valuable tool in sustaining engagement.
The Role of Workplace Celebrations
The jaded employer with a busy workforce and ambitious business goals may think workplace celebrations are a waste of time that is better spent on work activities. But Janice Holly Booth, writing about workplace celebrations for LifeReimagined, says celebrations energize employees and get them recharged to go back to their work refreshed and ready to perform even better. Celebrations strengthen employee engagement, build team camaraderie, and reduce negative behaviors. First Book CEO Kyle Zimmer believes even celebrating mistakes strengthens teams and companies. He says it encourages calculated risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit, and fresh ideas to celebrate when workers try something new even if it fails. He adds another important caveat about workplace celebrations: “there’s no substitute for spending time with people. So don’t be that jaded employer who doesn’t believe in pizza parties or celebrating small successes.”
ROI of Workplace Celebrations
While starting his supermarket sushi business, Philip Maung was inspired by the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and realized that not everything is about money. He found low and no-cost ways to throw employee celebrations like a game of kickball or an inexpensive birthday cake when the occasions warranted them. The best workplace celebrations allow management to spend time with employees and get to know them better. Celebrating the team, doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. It’s an opportunity to publicly show appreciation to staff and it pays off by re-energizing workers, and giving people the time to bond and become part of something bigger than themselves. It builds the fabric of your emotional culture and that’s not something that money can buy.
Learn more about the benefits of celebrating employees by downloading our FREE Guide to Workplace Gratitude. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!