World Smile Day, held this year on Friday, Oct. 3, is an easy and fun opportunity to celebrate workplace happiness and learn more about the everyday power of smiling.
WORKPLACE HAPPINESS BEGINS WITH A SMILE
World Smile Day has its origins in 1963 when commercial artist Harvey Ball created the smiley face to boost employee morale at an insurance agency in Worcester, Mass.
Ball’s happy yellow “smiley” has since become an iconic symbol of happiness and goodwill around the world. Ball thought everyone should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts, and – in 1999 – declared the first Friday in October World Smile Day.
“The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we,” explains the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, founded after Ball’s death in 2001.
A simple compliment can make an employee’s day. And, HR leaders know that workplace compliments are important to the success of your bottom-line too. Let’s start with some quotes on the topic:
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Writing assistance site WhiteSmoke, in “How to Compliment an Employee,” suggests:
“A short compliment letter or email can go a long way in making [employees] feel an essential part of the business. The more effective your workplace communication skills, the happier your employees will be, and the better you will be able to deliver your goods or services to customers.”
Workplace gratitude isn’t something you achieve or check off a to-do list. There’s never a moment when you can say, “Aha! We’ve got all the gratitude we need!” Given the right support, a workplace culture of gratitude is ever evolving and always growing stronger.
The question isn’t whether your company has or doesn’t have a culture of shared gratitude and appreciation. The question is: does your company consistently nurture the growth of such a culture?
That’s why it’s important to support employees to share gratitude every day. We’ve covered a lot of the day-to-day, longterm skill-building for workplace gratitude on this blog (see 7 Steps to a Culture of Gratitude, for example).
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!
Part-time, temporary and contract workers slip through the cracks too often and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. They’re easy to overlook — typically they work odd hours, fewer hours, out in the field or from home, and as a result are not as well known to management and to their permanent, full-time peers.
But their numbers are growing, and it isn’t necessarily by choice. The size of the part-time workforce in the U.S. jumped during the 2008 recession, and full-time hiring doesn’t appear to be picking back up, according to research overseen by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported earlier this year in the New York Times.
“Basically all of the growth in part-time workers has been among people reluctantly working few hours because of either slack business conditions or an inability to find a full-time job. Together these people are considered to be working part time ‘for economic reasons.’ Their numbers have grown by 3.4 million since the downturn began,” Catherine Rampell writes in the Times’ Economix blog.
At the same time, part-timers and temp workers also play a vital role in many business operations, from the retired grandmother who shares her maturity and expertise as a part-time retail cashier to the seasonal employees who help a company meet consumer demands and weather the busy holiday season.
Collectively referred to as “contingent” employees, part-time, temporary and contract workers will appreciate knowing how much they’re valued at your organization, even if they’re outside the box of what’s considered “normal” employment.
Most significantly — and simply — the first step toward effective recognition for contingent workers is to treat them the way you want them to act. A contingent worker treated as a cast off to be discarded at the end of the season, or as a temporary solution to a long-term need, will act accordingly.
“If you want part-time employees to have a long-term perspective, treat them with a long-term perspective. Talk about where they want to be in five years, for example, or what skills they are interested in learning,” advises author Bob Nelson at Workforce.com. Encouraging contingent workers to take initiative and offering the training they need will empower them, give them a sense of ownership and motivate them to be more dedicated to their work.
Think of the future. That contract worker today may turn out to be an invaluable resource and worth hiring full-time down the road. And the more seasonal workers you have returning year after year, the better prepared and knowledgeable your workforce will be.
For your older employees who may be coming out of retirement to work part-time or on a contract basis, Incentive Magazine recommends encouraging cross-generational innovation: “Each generation has its own perspective on products and services. Cross-pollinate ideas by utilizing the diversity in the workplace, and develop innovative products and services.” This goes for all contingent workers. Invite their input, and you may be surprised by their ideas and innovation.
Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, also recommends including part-time workers in the same activities as their full-time counterparts, such as department meetings and social events. Consider throwing a special holiday party for contingent workers who work from home or at off hours, or do it at a time when everyone can partake. “Everyone — especially part-timers — needs and wants to feel a part of the team,” he writes.
Bottom line: never underestimate the power of saying “Thank You.” Just as everyone wants to feel a part of the team, everyone craves recognition. Often it’s as simple as saying these two words, backed by a heartfelt and specific compliment. And, there is no better time than now to share your gratitude.
To learn more about effective workplace recognition, download our FREE eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving” by clicking the image below.
A new study has shown that employees are increasingly favoring virtual rewards for employee recognition over those which come with a specific dollar value, according to research by gamification platform Badgeville, and employee motivation company Make Their Day!
What are Virtual Rewards?
Virtual rewards are ways of providing employee recognition without using financial incentives, and they’re currently thriving in companies nationwide. Virtual rewards can come in many forms, including but not limited to:
- Praise and recognition from an immediate manager or peers
- Opportunities for growth – such as leading a team
- A better title/more responsibilities in the workplace
- Reward for achieving workplace goals
- Just plain fun!
Virtual rewards are often used through gamification; a process gaining popularity using the principles of game play in a non-game application. BunchBall provides a useful white paper on Gamification 101, if you are new to all this. Out of the employees surveyed, 88 percent said they find virtual recognition from their managers “extremely motivating”.
The report’s findings showed that 83 percent of employees felt that they got more satisfaction from recognition at work than particular rewards of monetary value. Not only that, but 71 percent claimed the most meaningful recognition they’d ever received cost nothing at all!
Cindy Ventrice, president of Make Their Day! and author of ‘Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works’ says: “The value of non-tangible recognition is clearly identified in our findings. Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for non-tangible recognition. With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective.”
According to Incentive Magazine, the research showed 70 percent of employees found rewards meaningful to them even though they did not come with a monetary price tag – that’s an increase of 57 percent from six years ago.
“It’s about status and employee recognition. They are giving meaningful virtual rewards for exceptional work. They deliver what employees and consumers actually want, which is emotional reward”, stated Gabe Zichermann, founder of Gamification Corp.
The study was conducted using responses from over 1,200 workers from a diverse range of industries to establish what drives and motivates them to perform well in the workplace.
Cryptocurrency for Employees
Perhaps you’ve heard of Bitcoin? It’s already been adopted by many merchants, and now companies are beginning to explore the possibility of using this cryptocurrency (digital currency) as a kind of reward system for employees.
One company, called Recognize, has already created a mobile app supporting Bitcoin as an alternative way to reward workers.
Mario Herger, the enterprise gamification scheme’s designer and Austrian Innovation Center’s CEO based in Silicon Valley, said: “Tangible rewards like money can lead to disengagement.”
He went on to say: “Yet, there are a lot of scientific examples where giving people money rewards other than salary means that people are interested in going the last mile.”
That’s why Bitcoin seems to be one solution; it’s not really money, but it works well, if not better.
A Tool to Add to Your Recognition Program
Virtual rewards are proving a great way to yield satisfied and motivated employees in the workplace, so why not consider adding virtual rewards to your recognition program today?
Ken Comee, CEO of Badgeville said: “The results of the Make Their Day! study aligns to what we’ve seen across our customers deploying gamification solutions for workplace engagement, as well as numerous reports over the last few years on the changing face of what motivates employees today. Workers of all ages, especially the rising millennial population, are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”
Remember, personal recognition by management should never be eliminated by virtual rewards. Instead, think of virtual rewards as an additional way to motivate and positively engage with employees within your company; and as a tool that’s particularly valuable for engaging millennials.
Does your company currently use virtual rewards? How do they work in your workplace?
Want to learn more about the role of employee recognition for engagement and the long-term health of your business? You’ll enjoy our FREE eBook below:
“Welcoming employees with an assortment of gifts and activities help new hires get involved right out of the gate.”
“The way you manage the transition of somebody into your culture speaks volumes about the culture to the person coming in, because you’re making those first early impressions and they know what’s expected of them.”
Companies are realizing this philosophy is necessary, the article notes. It’s not just about the bottom line; the key is to make employees enthusiastic right from day one.
As Victoria Weinblatt of Leaf Group writes at the Houston Chronicle’s Chron.com, in “Gifts for a New Employee,”
“Entering the realm of the working world is a life-changing event.”
Make it easier with personal attention and a small gift. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but a thoughtful “welcome to the team” gift might be just the thing to build your company’s reputation as a great place to work. Your next search for the best talent will likely be that much easier.
Vera Leigh, eHow contributor, adds: “New employee gifts make people feel welcome and appreciated on their first day of work. They also set the tone for the work environment and let people know that you are glad they have joined your staff,” in her article, “New Employee Gift Ideas.”
Here are some popular gift suggestions:
- Gift certificates or gift cards—preferably ones that enable employees to select their own items, shop at their store of choice and even share with their family.
- Desk goodie basket—healthy snacks as well as treats.
- Greeting card—a personal message from management and staff.
- Lunch—catered in a conference room, in the company cafeteria, or a local restaurant.
HR software company TribeHR, contributes a few more ideas in their “Make an Amazing Employee Welcome Package.”
- Put a small gift on new employees’ desks each day during their first week. Try a gift certificate or card on Monday, chocolates on Tuesday, fresh flowers on Wednesday, a cupcake from a local bakery on Thursday, and Friday, a coffee mug with your company’s name on it.
- If they’re new to the area, give them a stack of menus to popular local restaurants and coffee shops, and a bunch of brochures for local museums, theaters and other attractions.
You just spent $40 and did something your employees will always remember.
“Businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars a year or more on new hires, with the hope that they will become valued employees who add to the company’s success. It pays to do a few little, inexpensive things to welcome them aboard.”