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.
With stress and uncertainty at high levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing your sincere workplace gratitude is more important than ever.
Even if your employees seem to be keeping it together and are being productive, it could be that they are anxious, depressed and fearful as they face increased pressure at home while possibly dealing with unfamiliar ways of getting their work done.
Harvard Business Review in an article highlighting how a little thanks goes a long way in this time of crisis, writer Sabina Nawaz puts together several strategies that you can implement to underscore just how grateful you are for your team and their efforts.
HBR reminds us that:
“Research clearly indicates expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. We’re happier when we’re grateful. During a crisis, taking the time to thank others is vital to dampen loneliness, amp up social connections, and generate generosity.”
In the article, a busy academic executive said “I’m so busy fighting fires from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. that I don’t have time to acknowledge the work my team is doing.” If you also feel too swamped to focus on gratitude, the suggestions provided are relatively easy to achieve, even during these tumultuous times.
There isn’t just one recipe for success when it comes to employee recognition; there are many thoughtful ways to acknowledge employees’ dedication and hard work. Leaders who take the time and energy to show employee gratitude year-round end up with happier team members and a more enjoyable workplace.
We couldn’t agree more with this recent Forbes article that states,
“Never underestimate the power of ‘thank you.’ Everyone wants to feel recognized and appreciated, so encourage employees to thank the people around them, including their colleagues, senior leaders, and employers, on a regular basis, year-round.”
So what are you waiting for? It’s always the “time of year” for gratitude!
Celebrate Spring in the Workplace
Right now, many people are gearing up for Easter (Sunday, April 12). While not everyone celebrates this holiday, it can easily be regarded as a “Spring into Spring” workplace celebration with chocolate, bunnies, family meals and egg-hunting – which everyone would welcome and enjoy.
If you have concerns about tackling Easter at work, take a look at our blog post about Why You Should Celebrate Easter in the Workplace. It is chock full of ideas about how to make Easter-ish and spring workplace celebrations entertaining and appropriate for everyone!
Another resource is “4 Easter Employee Engagement Ideas For Your Office.” Dying eggs is easy and relaxing, allowing employees to chat while dipping. And a Peep diorama? How fun would that be? Check out these creative winners!
Share the Gift of an Easter Ham
If you are pondering how to shower employees with a “Happy Spring” thank you, consider the gift of a holiday ham. For many, the gift of a ham for Easter is a valued and welcome gift. It evokes family and underscores the joy and warmth that comes from sharing a special meal together. gThankYou makes it easy to share the gift of ham – during springtime or whenever you want to share your workplace appreciation.
Want more choice? Consider our Ham or Turkey Gift Certificate. Recipients choose what’s best for the centerpiece of their family celebration.
Be sure to check out our Spring cards selection, they are guaranteed to brighten someone’s day and are always free with any purchase.
Thinking you’d rather go the sweet route? How about a Candy Gift Certificate? Since sugar makes the world go ‘round, this is always a fan favorite for employee appreciation gifts. There are so many seasonal candy classics like jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and of course Peeps in every color.
Our Holiday Ham Guide Gift for You!
At gThankYou, we love a delicious, juicy ham with all the fixings. That’s why we created our Ultimate Holiday Ham Guide – so everyone can cook a a crowd-pleasing ham! Our Guide is packed with pages of ham goodness, including an exploration and explanation of the different kinds of ham, cooking tips, menu planning ideas, food safety strategies, recipes and much more!
And even better, it’s FREE for you! Download it now and share with colleagues and friends. Give this guide/cookbook with your gift of a holiday ham and delight your recipients. They will appreciate getting not just the centerpiece of their meal, but all of the helpful hints contained in the guide.
Do you want to learn new ways to glaze a ham? Interested in how to properly cook and carve? Intrigued by new recipes that inspire novice and top chefs alike? Then look no further! Check out the Ultimate Holiday Ham Guide for inspiration and practical advice.
Happy spring and Easter from your friends at gThankYou! We appreciate YOU.
As we approach celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, this quote from Melody Beattie beautifully reminds us of the transformative power of gratitude at the holidays – and every day.
Beattie knows about the transformative power of gratitude having survived a traumatic childhood, addiction and the loss of a child but emerging from this to live a a full and rewarding life. After having an epiphany in rehab that got her to focus her energies on “the right things,” she became a renowned self-help author (she literally wrote the book on codependency, followed by many other bestsellers) and remains a celebrated writer and an inspiring beacon for many struggling with addiction and grief. The daily meditations on her website (or apps) are a good way to start or end your day!
Let’s break down what she said in this quote because while it’s the perfect quote as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it’s also a powerful reminder for us to look at every day through the lens of gratitude.
“Unlocks the fullness of life…”
Who doesn’t want to live their life fully, experiencing the maximum of satisfaction and joy at both home and at work. Gratitude opens our eyes to the beauty and goodness of the world around us. It energizes us and brings hope. Sharing gratitude brings out the best in those around us too.
“Turns what we have into enough…”
Gratitude allows us to be thankful for the abundance of good things in life and not be driven by societal or selfish needs. Gratitude helps us realize we are, and we have, enough.
Research finds that “just acting grateful can make you feel grateful” says Arthur C. Brooks in “Choose to be Grateful. It will make you Happier.” He goes on to say:
“If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.”
“…turns denial into acceptance…”
Gratitude let’s us enjoy relatives and friends for who they are – imperfections and all. And, most importantly accepting ourselves for doing the best we can. Gratitude heals.
In a recent Forbes article on gratitude, positive psychologist researcher and author Robert Emmons “cites research showing the effectiveness of gratitude in buffering stress and building resilience. He even recommends a strategy he calls “Remember the bad.” The point is not to dwell on the negative, but to look back and reflect on difficult experiences and how we got through them. In doing so, we learn not to take our current blessings for granted. We are also reminded of the resources that helped us weather past storms.”
“…chaos to to order, confusion to clarity…”
Stopping to take a breath and reframing stress that can come at the holidays (or any day) is an opportunity to clear your mind and re-prioritize what’s important. Being grateful helps put what’s really important in perspective.
“…turns a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger to a friend.”
No matter the scale of the meal, gratitude for the bounty and those we share it with turns any occasion into a “feast”.
Thanksgiving is a holiday uniquely steeped in a history of gratitude. It’s the one time of year we treat everyone as family. It’s gratitude that allows us to open our hearts and our homes.
This holiday season share your gratitude and share in the joy you spread.
Wherever and however you celebrate Thanksgiving, we hope the meal becomes a feast of gratitude for you and your loved ones.
By Cheryl Baker, Co-Founder and Director of Social Capital, Give and Take, Inc.
When you hear the term “contagion,” what image comes to mind? Disease. Panic in mass crowds. Viral social media trends. Perhaps this time of year, you think of the flu.
Scientists have found that within groups, thoughts and moods can be just as contagious as physical diseases or behaviors. In a phenomenon called emotional contagion, researchers have observed that “individuals tend to express and feel emotions that are similar to those of others,” seeming to “catch” the feelings of those around them.
While the word “contagion” often carries a negative connotation, research on the benefits of emotional contagion has shown that this ripple effect may be a secret workplace weapon for productivity and engagement. If you have a culture of generosity and appreciation, you’ve likely seen this in action.
Not sure if you have a generous workplace?
This free quiz will give you some idea of where you stand today.
If you still have some work to do in terms of building a generous culture, it may help to educate employees on the benefits of generosity in the workplace. It’s more than just giving to United Way during the annual drive. It’s about making a commitment to share your time, talent, expertise, connections, advice, and help in ways that don’t overextend throughout the year.
Why should we give?
Here’s the good news for leaders: creating a culture of giving is great for your workers, but extensive research shows why building a sustainably collaborative culture is good for companies. It makes companies more efficient, innovative and productive. It increases profitability and revenue. It improves customer satisfaction and employee retention. It’s the classic win/win.
Sometimes, if we’re going to encourage employees to participate more fully and wholeheartedly in a culture of productive generosity, we need to show them what’s in it for them.
A willingness to ask for help and give help to others at work is not just a fluffy, feel-good concept. There are real, tangible, measurable benefits to being a giver at work:
1. Giving makes us happy
There have been countless studies that suggest helping others improves the helper’s own mood as much, if not more, than the recipient of the help. A study at University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that altruism in the workplace had relatively large effects on happiness.
Professor Donald Moynihan says, “Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”
2. Giving increases gratitude
Doing favors for others increases gratitude, which in itself is a positive emotion that can improve an individual’s health and well-being. In a study evaluating interventions for lasting happiness, founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman found that a daily gratitude practice was one of only two ways participants were able to increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms over the long-term.
3. Giving inspires more giving
Paying it forward pays off. Contagion researchers James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis found that one person’s initial generosity can spark a chain reaction of benevolence up to three times as large as the original contribution. The single act can begin what social scientists call a “virtuous circle,” where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s and so on. People are grateful for help received and are motivated to pay it forward according to research by Dr. Wayne Baker and Nathaniel Bulkley.
4. Giving makes us more well-liked
When you help others, you become someone that others can trust and rely on when they have a future knowledge, resource or connection need.
5. Giving grows and strengthens our networks
Offering help to others helps you make connections within your organization that you may not have otherwise made, which will increase your resources next time you need help. Moreover, these connections are more likely to be high-quality connections. So while we may not be givers for the express purpose of getting a reward, there are possible career and financial advantages to doing so.
6. Enjoy greater happiness and good health
Research shows that people who are givers are happier and healthier both mentally and physically. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post on the health benefits of being a giver at work.
7. Be the change you wish to see in the world
Giving back to others by offering your knowledge, connections and resources makes your world and your work environment a little better. Work environments with givers breed more generous behavior in others. The whole culture of a company can start to change.
8. Boost your career
According to Wharton professor and Give and Take co-founder Adam Grant, corporate “givers” are ultimately the highest performers and the most successful. Givers are able to tap into a network of knowledge and resources that provides them with greater resources and knowledge than those who try to succeed in isolation. If you’re interested in this aspect of generosity, Grant wrote a whole book on it, called Give and Take: How Helping Others Drives Our Success.
Pay it forward
The positive emotions generated through giving and receiving spreads through groups by way of emotional contagion and ripples through the entire organization. Research on groups experiencing positive emotional contagion found that more than good feelings spread. These groups experienced less interpersonal conflict, more successful cooperation, and felt they had performed better on their task than the control group.
When we give, the benefits are amplified and multiplied, as the positive emotions created by giving and expressing gratitude spread from one person to another. Even if we don’t give, we reap the benefits by being around people who are givers themselves. Barbara Fredrickson reports that people who merely witness or hear about a helpful interchange may experience positive emotions as well.
Benefits of asking for help
If Adam Grant wrote the book on giving, Wayne Baker wrote the book on asking for help (All You Have to Do is Ask, coming out January 2020). In his forthcoming book, he argues that asking for help at work is the most important skill for success.
It can be hard to ask for help at work. But it’s really important that we encourage our teams to do so (and help them learn how to do it) because the benefits are legion.
Studies show that asking for help makes us better and less frustrated at our jobs. It helps us find new opportunities and new talent. It unlocks new ideas and solutions, and enhances team performance. And it helps us get the things we need outside the workplace as well.
And yet, we rarely give ourselves permission to ask. Luckily, the research shows that asking—and getting—what we need is much easier than we tend to think.
When you ask for what you need, you are:
- Building team camaraderie and cohesion. You are reinforcing the idea that it takes a strong team to make a difference.
- Making other people feel better.. Don’t think you are burdening someone else by asking for help, people enjoy helping each other! It is really a win-win: you get help and you make someone else feel good.
- More likeable. We like people who dare to show their vulnerability and ask for help on things that are challenging for them. You’re also setting a great example for your teammates.
- Getting smarter: A willingness to ask for help makes it easier to do your job, providing you with an answer, advice, or a different perspective or a connection to someone outside your network who has the knowledge or resources you need.
- More successful. No great achievement can be done alone, and asking for help makes us more productive. No one has all of the resources, connections and knowledge to be totally self-sufficient and maximally effective.
Besides, we’ve already established that being a giver is good for so many things. The best offers of help occur when someone has asked for it.
All of this starts with leaders setting a good example. Leaders should be generous with their own teams, sharing both time and talent as well as recognition and appreciation for a job well done.
About the Author
Cheryl Baker is an innovator in the field of social capital and an expert in the translation of social science principles. She’s also the co-founder of Give and Take Inc., along with Wayne Baker and Adam Grant and the creator of the Reciprocity Ring. Give and Take makes Givitas, software that connects any group of people to exchange help, including employees, customers, members, donors, students, alumni, and more. By fostering a giving culture, organizations of all sizes drive positive business outcomes like increased efficiency, productivity, loyalty, and engagement.