gThankYou’s popular Employee Appreciation Calendar for 2018 is here!
We’ve updated our annual day-to-day appreciation calendar with lots of new topics, new case studies and even more holidays and reasons to celebrate! Download your free copy of our “2018 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” and jump-start your employee engagement and appreciation planning for the New Year.
Appreciation is a major factor in workplace happiness and functionality. And employees are more likely than ever to leave their company if they don’t receive it.
According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley, 66 percent of employees would leave their companies if they did not feel appreciation — up from 51 percent in 2012.
Everyone wins when company leaders prioritize employee appreciation.
“Recognizing the benefits we receive from others makes us happier and healthier, enhances trust and loyalty, and encourages people to connect and invest in the workplace,” writes Greater Good’s Amie M. Gordon.
Sounds great, right?
The challenge is finding ways to consistently and authentically show appreciation, day in and day out. Vowing to thank employees more often is a good start, for example, but it isn’t specific enough to be an actionable goal.
gThankYou’s 2018 Employee Appreciation Calendar helps you identify your company’s specific needs and develop a plan to share gratitude throughout the year (not just at the holidays or annual appreciation dinner). Ultimately, the goal is a happier workforce, higher retention and bigger profits.
Read on for a sneak peek at what our 2018 Calendar has in store for you!
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.
Gratitude activities for the workplace help build a kinder, happier and more purposeful culture — and more dedicated, productive, loyal employees.
Culture is a main sticking point for companies struggling with disengagement, turnover and low morale.
“People want to work for a company that has a culture of recognizing great work effort, great workers and actions that help grow the company,” Brian Sommer, a technology services analyst, writes for Diginomica.
“This is the real recognition and reward challenge: getting a company to alter its culture and management practices to reward people who exhibit the behaviors that drive corporate success,” Sommer writes.
Fixing bad workplace culture takes a renewed focus on rewards and recognition — but not as “an afterthought or bolt-on capability.”
True cultural transformation happens when a) employee recognition is part of a greater shift toward a culture of gratitude, and b) company executives are 100 percent on-board.
“Why executives? Because cultural change is not the responsibility of HR alone and it can’t be fixed by a mandate, technology or HR. It needs the support of all executives and management,” Sommer writes.
One easy, practical way to help build a culture of gratitude is to involve employees and executives alike in a series of gratitude activities for the workplace.
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.
What are we really talking about when we say “employee engagement”? A workforce that shares a sense of belonging in the workplace, for starters.
This is the new evolution of engagement: really drilling down to core concepts to better understand business jargon.
“Engagement is, as I like to joke, a six-dollar word that consultants say when people like what they do and want to come to work everyday,” executive coach and educator John Baldoni writes in a Forbes column on developing engagement.
When an employee has a sense of belonging in the workplace, it “connotes ownership,” Baldoni writes.
“You belong therefore you own. Not property but something more meaningful. You own responsibility. You have a sense of autonomy that enables you to act for the good of the organization. Not because you have to, but because you want to.”
The IBM/Globoforce “Employee Engagement Index” measures belonging first among the “five key tenets” of a positive employee experience. It defines sense of belonging in the workplace as “feeling part of a team, group or organization.”
The 4th of July is behind us. Up ahead: two months of summer — sunny, lazy, distracting summer, with vacation days and “summer Fridays” tempting employees at every turn.
In other words? A recipe for disengagement. And your task is keeping employees engaged.
It’s not as tough as you may think! Keeping up engagement levels through the summer months depends on a good balance that integrates fun, freedom, fitness and focus.
If employees have opportunities for regular, low-key summertime celebrations that center on accomplishments, family and wellness, they’ll be more likely to be productive the rest of the time.
This is the thinking behind the HR shift from “work-life balance” to “work-life integration,” according to the Limeade blog post “How to Keep Your Work-Life Integration On Track This Summer.”
“We believe you need to focus on the whole employee, rather than separating who they are in the office and who they are at home,” the Limeade marketing team writes.
“And it’s your job to find ways to connect and integrate the two. … Work-life balance implies a zero-sum game that says we can’t have it all. Work-life integration lets us coordinate, blend and bring elements of work and life into a unified whole.”
Employees in organizations that focus on work-life integration initiatives like social support and wellbeing are more likely to be engaged, more likely to recommend their employer to others and more likely to “go the extra mile” for the company.
Now’s not the time to pull out draconian rules or punish employees for wanting to enjoy their summer — that’s the old way of doing things and it didn’t work.
Instead, be inspired by the following summertime workplace celebration ideas to plan your own engagement calendar for the season.
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.
You don’t have to break the budget to show heartfelt receptionist appreciation!
National Receptionists Day is always the second Wednesday in May.
First launched in 1991, National Receptionists Day celebrates the role of professional receptionists. It’s a day set aside to recognize and appreciate all the work that receptionists do to help organizations run smoothly.
Why receptionists? They’re the face of your company. Receptionists are usually the first (and sometimes only) company representative your customers or clients interact with. Often, they’re the first to explain your company’s products or services, or hear feedback.
And they’re doing all that while fielding phone calls, coordinating schedules and handling deliveries!
Great receptionists are knowledgeable, friendly and fast.
Making sure your receptionists feel appreciated and included in your company culture is key to promoting a positive company image. Your gratitude makes the difference. Read on for 10 receptionist appreciation ideas that won’t break your budget!
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!
Want to build a better workplace culture? Join the club. The way we work is changing, and companies are scrambling to catch up.
“The necessity of workplace culture is a recent phenomenon,” according to a column in The Commentator. “It’s clear that in order to attract, retain and engage the modern workforce, companies must intensify their focus on improving company culture.”
That’s because employees in all industries now are expecting work that is meaningful and engaging — and to be appreciated for it, beyond a paycheck.
Employees are also “pushing employers to forego traditional structures,” according to Gallup research.
But change isn’t happening fast enough for most workers. Two-thirds of U.S. workers still aren’t engaged at work, a figure that hasn’t budged much in years.
Don’t be discouraged! Watch these TED Talks for fresh ideas and new perspectives on building a better workplace culture through better leadership, motivation, appreciation, mindfulness, creativity and more. You’ll feel re-engaged and inspired to share and cultivate improvements to your workplace. Rediscover how easy it is to make a difference.
Happy International Day of Awesomeness! Yes, this is a real (unofficial) holiday — and it’s awesome to celebrate in the workplace.
A couple of coworkers started International Day of Awesomeness back in 2007. It was as easy as registering the domain “dayofawesomeness.com” and putting the idea out into the world.
Held every year on March 10, International Day of Awesomeness has a simple premise: be awesome and encourage others to be awesome.
Why? “Because everyone needs an excuse to be awesome.” Can’t argue with that!
How we celebrate International Day of Awesomeness is open to creativity. The holiday’s founders suggest “feats of awesomeness.”
Be inspired to celebrate the day with your team. And don’t forget to share your company’s International Day of Awesomeness activities on social media with the hashtags #idoa or #dayofawesomeness.
8 Ways to Celebrate International Day of Awesomeness At Work
Building an awesome workplace culture is an investment. It takes time, resources and full support from company leadership.
Of course, we all want a better culture today. A recent headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion takes a humorous spin on this unrealistic expectation: “Boss Wants Friendly, Relaxed Company Culture In Place By Friday.”
By Friday would be great, of course — but the reality is, you and your team have to be in it for the long haul.
However, there are specific and effective things you can do right now that really will make your company culture just a bit more awesome. Best part is, you’ll see results right away.
So start today, in honor of International Day of Awesomeness! Here are eight ideas of what your HR team and your employees can do together to celebrate:
Building Workplace Positivity
Workplace positivity grows through appreciation and, specifically, great compliments. Start practicing today, World Compliment Day, to get ready for Employee Appreciation Day later this week.
Held annually on March 1, World Compliment Day has its origins in the Netherlands.
World Compliment Day is not commercially oriented, “so everyone can afford to participate,” according to a history at WorldComplimentDay.info. It “simply addresses the basic human need for recognition and appreciation. … And therein lies its power.”
Hans Poortvliet, a Dutch recognition professional and the driving force behind the annual event in the Netherlands, points out that compliments cost nothing but have a huge impact.
“Nothing stimulates more, gives more energy, makes people happier and, as far as business is concerned, increases productivity and commitment faster than sincere appreciation,” Poortvliet says. Ultimately, if every person pays a compliment to at least three people, “we will definitely create the Most Positive Day in the World!”
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 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.
Happy New Year!
The celebration-filled holiday season is over, party streamers down, gifts shared and game prizes won. Now what? How will you sustain that workplace spirit and employee happiness into the new year?
If increasing employee happiness is one of your workplace goals this year, you’re not alone.
Organizations big and small are re-evaluating their strategies as Gallup continues to report low employee engagement across industries. Gallup data shows Millennial workers in particular aren’t responding to traditional engagement.
We know workplace celebrations are a reliable way to engage and motivate employees. A celebration honors excellence, fuels innovation and strengthens teamwork. It gives everyone a chance to fully appreciate individual and team successes.
But celebrating employees goes well beyond parties and prizes. Sustaining everyday employee happiness, 365 days a year, takes a comprehensive approach and a cultural shift.
That’s why we here at gThankYou created a “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar.” It’s a guide to each month, with practical tips for everyday engagement and appreciation, as well as seasonal and holiday-specific employee recognition ideas and inspiration.
Read on for a peek at what each month of the calendar offers and how it can help you build a sustainable culture of appreciation.
The new year will be here before you know it! Staff appreciation gifts for the New Year are the perfect way to celebrate the successes of the prior year and get energized for what’s ahead.
New Year’s is widely celebrated and non-religious, making it a good choice for a workplace celebration.
“Focus on thanking employees for a successful year and encouraging the same enthusiasm and dedication to the company for the approaching New Year,” according to the SHRM article “HR Pros: Make Year-End Celebrations Inclusive.”
Thanks, a small gift and shared meal were among the most common year-end employee celebration suggestions from HR pros in a recent SHRM poll.
The New Year is a time of reflection — we look back at the past year and make decisions about how to approach life and work in the coming year. Are you doing this with your employees? It’s a great chance to get motivated and focused together.
Simply celebrating together is a powerful way to build workplace spirit.
“Taking a little time to bond socially and relax can benefit your employees and motivate them to keep coming back for more,” Cynthia Measom writes in the Chron article, “5 Things to Motivate Employees in a New Year.”
What makes a great employee gift for the New Year? Read on for ideas of staff appreciation gifts that communicate gratitude, share in the celebration of company achievements and — most importantly — delight employees!
5 Staff Appreciation Gifts to Kick Off the Year
Why share a New Year’s gift in the workplace? Because New Year’s is…
- celebrated by all.
- an important milestone.
- a time of reflection and goal-setting.
As always, focus on gratitude, however you choose to celebrate and whatever gift you choose for employees.
We’re all excited by the potential of the New Year and a “clean slate,” but don’t be quick to brush last year into the past. Taking time to recognize the wins of the past year is key to motivation and inspiration for the next 12 months.
Choose a gift that shares in the fun, aspirational nature of the New Year. Here are five ideas:
1. ‘Happy New Year’ CEO letter
Any gift should include a short Thank You note or “Thanks” in person, but take it a step further with a longer letter from the CEO or other top brass. Now is a great time to go over what worked well for your business in the previous year and and inspire even better results in the upcoming year.
Don’t know where to start? Download our free ebook on how to write a holiday Thank You letter. You’ll find specific how-to’s and inspiration from real-life examples of CEO holiday letters. (The ebook is geared toward Thanksgiving, but we think the advice is great for writing a New Year’s letter, too!)
2. Flowers or potted plants for the office
Bring fresh oxygen into your workplace with bouquets or a few pretty, easy-to-maintain potted plants. During these short winter days, a little greenery and color goes a long way to brighten everyone’s day.
3. ‘Culture book’
Take a cue from Zappo’s and create a “culture book” with input from employees. Think of it as a high school yearbook, but for your staff — highlight personal and team achievements from the past year with photos and quotes. Focus on appreciation and on how employees define your company’s unique cultural identity.
A culture book is a great add-on gift and helps keep your company model alive, relevant and fresh. As Gaping Void points out, culture is fluid: “Culture isn’t a set of laws. It can’t be imposed — culture is shared.”
4. End-of-year potluck celebration
On a budget? Decorate the break room with New Year’s streamers and balloons and host an end-of-year potluck. Provide the plates, napkins, table clothes, utensils, etc., and invite employees to bring their favorite holiday dish. If budget allows, share a $5 gift certificate for candy or ice cream with each employee. Have management talk about the year’s successes and challenges and what to look forward to in the year ahead.
5. Treats for staying healthy in the new year
Share a gift that encourages healthy habits. It will jumpstart your wellness initiative and help employees keep their get-healthy New Year’s resolutions. Be sure the tone of your gift is positive, not critical. It should promote healthy eating and staying active, not specifically weight-loss, which could be a downer for someone already struggling to lose weight.
A gThankYou! Fruits and Vegetables Gift Certificate is a great way to thank employees and help them keep resolutions to eat better this new year, for example. Even better: when you share the Gift Certificates, bring in a local chef to teach a class on how to incorporate more fruits and veggies into meals.
Have You Started Your Employee Recognition Planning?
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
We have a New Year’s gift for you! Download the gThankYou Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar. It gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free, and get your planning started for the New Year!
Make a commitment today to better workplace engagement. Download our “how-to” planning guide to building an everyday culture of appreciation.
Workplace kindness may be one of the rarest forms of kindness. We’re more frequently expected to share kindness at home, with friends, in places of worship, in our neighborhood and at school.
Yet the workplace is one place where kindness is not emphasized and often sorely missed — we’re too busy, too distracted, too competitive.
The climate of communication today is often unkind, too. We’re barely a week out from a bitterly divisive presidential election with name-calling from both sides. We have been immersed in inconsiderate commentary for endless months.
We all need kindness — today more than ever. In employee management in particular, kindness is powerful. It lifts up people, and it lifts up business. Sharing kindness makes both the giver and the receiver feel good. It sparks a kindness chain reaction.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
World Kindness Day seeks to challenge the status quo and promote everyday kindness through gratitude and action. Celebrate it this Nov. 13! Better yet, choose to invest in your workplace culture by focusing on building a climate of kindness. We love the inspiration from the RAK Foundation and bet you will, too.
Read on for examples of workplace kindness and tips for celebrating #WorldKindnessDay with your employees.
Veterans Day is Nov. 11. Wondering how to thank veterans in your workplace and beyond?
If you aren’t already, now’s a great time to start incorporating celebrations of giving and honor (like Veterans Day) into your employee engagement calendar!
Thanking the veterans in your workplace isn’t just a nice thing to do for them, it’s also an excellent opportunity to engage all employees with gratitude and a good cause. Employees now more than ever are embracing workplace volunteerism, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and giving back to their community with coworkers.
Here are five tips for how to thank veterans in your workplace and community as a tool for employee engagement.
Sorry. It’s the one word that may be holding back you and your team from building a stronger culture of workplace gratitude.
Apologies have their place. But you’re probably saying “Sorry” when “Thank You” would be better.
“If you’ve truly done something to hurt or offend someone, an apology is best. But so often the things people apologize for in daily life are ambiguous,” Julie Beck, senior associate editor at The Atlantic, writes in her article “The Power of Casual Gratitude.”
“A ‘sorry’ is a token offered to ward off guilt and to keep others from being irritated with you. But it’s just basic economics that the more of these coins you have in circulation, the less they’re worth,” she writes.
Thanking someone, on the other hand, has an expansive power that “Sorry” doesn’t. Gratitude makes other people feel good. It gets passed on. It starts a chain reaction to happiness.
Learn about the instances of “casual gratitude” — Beck’s term — when “Thank You” is better than “Sorry.” Your increased awareness will naturally encourage others and build up your workplace gratitude culture!
Happy Positive Thinking Day! Have you been inspiring positivity in the workplace lately?
One of the most interesting employee engagement cases of the past year was related to positivity in the workplace — with some fascinating lessons in how (and how not) to pursue it.
Explicitly mandating positivity in the workplace is risky, as T-Mobile recently discovered. The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling against T-Mobile in April declaring that the telecommunications company had run afoul of the law by including a provision in its employee handbook requiring workers “to maintain a positive work environment in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships.”
Sounds harmless, right? It isn’t, legally speaking.
“There was, of course, a perfectly sound legal reason for this seemingly odd decision,” Maria Konnikova writes in an article for The New Yorker, “What Makes People Feel Upbeat At Work.” In short, the NLRB reasoned that T-Mobile’s policy was “ambiguous and vague” enough to have a chilling effect on the right of employees to speak freely and to organize.
Legality aside, workplace psychology experts agree that mandating positivity simply isn’t that effective, anyway. Nobody likes being told how to feel.
But inspiring positivity in the workplace is a worthwhile (and achievable) goal. Read on to find out why, and how you can create real, lasting positivity without resorting to potentially illegal or ineffective mandates.
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.