If you’re reading this blog post, it’s probably because you care about employee appreciation and you may be wondering how digital feedback platforms can help (and which ones could be a good fit for your company).
Why Employee Appreciation Matters
In a Workplace article on Gallup’s website examining the impact of employee recognition, writers Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak point out:
Beyond communicating appreciation and providing motivation to the recognized employee, the act of recognition also sends messages to other employees about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired culture of the organization to other employees
Three words are key when it comes to employee appreciation according to Gallup’s results: honest, authentic and individualized. Read on to learn how digital feedback platforms can help make employee appreciation a daily work habit.
We all know that New Year’s resolutions are often hard to keep. But if one of your workplace goals was to get a better handle on employee engagement planning in 2019, that resolution is now easier to keep with the use of gThankYou’s 2019 Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar!
If you are familiar with our annual calendar chock full of engagement and appreciation ideas, then you’ve probably already done the free download because you know what a valuable (and fun) tool it is.
Not familiar with it? Start by filling out the short online form and you’ll have a FREE, indispensable and inspiring guide at your fingertips. Here’s what to expect for each month in addition to meaningful, compelling (yet easy-to-read) articles on an array of topics meant to inspire your planning and workplace activities:
It’s here!! Our very popular Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar is newly updated and back for 2019!Users have told us they love the monthly and daily idea format and the updated content on how to build a loyal, happy workplace culture through engagement and gratitude. It’s our holiday gift to anyone who wants to build a better workplace.
- Key stats (in case you still need to prove to leadership how critical employee engagement and appreciation is)
- Ready-to-Go Celebration examples (so even if you think you aren’t creative you’ll have turn-key approaches to create more fun in the workplace)
- Mini-case studies (learn what’s worked for other organizations)
- Plenty of graphics (which make this ebook feel like fun, not work)
New Employee Appreciation Calendar + New Year = New Opportunities
Our annual employee celebration calendar is full of creative engagement concepts and festive year-round celebrations. It’s a wonderful resource for supporting employee engagement and recognition planning for the new year. Whether you have big budgets or need no or low-cost ideas, we have content and suggestions for you.
Every year we strive to update our calendar with the latest research and thinking about building great workplace cultures. You’ll find mini-case studies, research, and how-to’s in addition to daily and monthly celebration ideas.
Our intent is to provide a fun resource that helps workplace leaders:
- Stay current in the space of employee engagement and recognition
- Provide actionable gratitude-based engagement and celebration how-to’s for busy HR personnel
- Share new ways to engage and celebrate employees
- Spark creative thinking for building the workplace culture you want
Hanukka just ended and it’s not long until employees start taking off for the Christmas holiday and business winds down for the year.
There’s still time to choose a thoughtful holiday gift that will show employees how much you appreciate them.
Last-Minute Gift Ideas Employees Will Love
Here are five affordable employee gift ideas that are convenient enough to arrange at the last minute. Don’t forget to share your gifts with gratitude – the most meaningful gift of appreciation is free!
- A group gift.
If your time is short, consider a group outing, an upgrade to the break room, or a holiday luncheon or party (if you’re not already planning one).
- Productivity apps or tools.
Digital apps can be delivered instantly, with no physical orders or trips to the store. Poll your employees on which app will save them time or make them even better at their jobs.
No longer just for magazines, subscriptions exist nowadays for everything from streaming entertainment to socks. Subscriptions can be ordered easily online.
- Gift certificates for turkey or ham.
The workplace gift of a turkey or ham is a beloved tradition of gratitude that stretches back decades. Gift certificates eliminate the logistical difficulties of storing and distributing frozen turkeys or hams, and they give your employees the flexibility to choose the sizes and preparations they want.
- Holiday dessert.
A homemade treat is heartwarming but impractical with a large organization. Keep it easy and affordable with gThankYou Gift Certificates for pie and ice cream.
This Wednesday, October 31st, isn’t just hump day — it’s Halloween! You still have time to organize a bit of spooky workplace Halloween fun to celebrate one of our favorite holidays and your employees.
The Benefits of Workplace Celebrations
Whether it’s for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or the winter holidays, celebrations at work foster team unity, spark creativity, and relieve stress. Workplace parties are seen as an expression of gratitude, which boosts employee engagement and loyalty.
Halloween checks all the boxes for a successful workplace celebration; it’s participatory by nature, creative, and the focus is on fun. We all love Halloween!
Yikes…summer flew by and it seems that we’re careening into fall. Now that we’ve cleared the hurdles of Back to School and Labor Day and are about to switch thermostats from cool to heat, wouldn’t it be a relief to actually be able to check something important off of your to do list?
If the speed in which the seasons are changing is any indication, the holidays will be upon us soon and things will only get more intense as the fourth quarter approaches.
Employee Holiday Gifts – Planning Now Is The Smart Strategy
By planning ahead, your own holidays may just be a bit brighter and less stressful. (The Mayo Clinic offers some helpful suggestions on reducing holiday stress.)
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spend time with your own family and friends without the worry looming that you haven’t completed your employee holiday gift purchasing?
Perhaps you’ll even be able to slow down enough to curl up with a blanket and a book about hygee, the Scandinavian pursuit of coziness and the celebrating life’s simple pleasures.
(more…)Building a happy workplace is a priority for many employers. It starts with doing the fundamentals such as diversity, equality and fairness well. Embrace these and you’ll have the foundation needed for building a great workplace. Add a commitment to employee appreciation and you’ll create a happy, productive and loyal workforce.
Inequality Breeds UnhappinessWhy is that even when, in general, we are more prosperous, we are less happy? Jonathan Rauch explores this issue in-depth in a New York Times op-edIn America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago. Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are very happy has, if anything, slightly declined.Rauch, when conducting research for his book, The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, learned that happiness is local and relative.Although moral philosophers may wish Homo sapiens were wired more rationally, we humans are walking, talking status meters, constantly judging our worth and social standing by comparing ourselves with others today and with our own prior selves.Rauch further explained, “…people will tolerate and sometimes even embrace inequality if they believe the system is fair and lets them get ahead.” He described a witticism that is often attributed to Gore Vidal, “it is not enough for me to succeed; others must fail” as being “uncomfortably accurate.” Rauch cited a striking experiment, in which certain households in Kenyan villages were the random recipients of large financial windfalls. The lucky households were happy, but their neighbors experienced increased unhappiness because they felt as they had fallen behind.
Why are people in some countries happier than others? What factors contribute to happiness and how can we improve happiness at home and in the workplace? We can apply lessons from the happiest countries in the world on how to be happy.
Listen and LearnFreakanomics recently released a podcast “How to be Happy” addresses those questions and does a deep dive into Denmark’s consistently high happiness ranking. It’s definitely worth a listen (or a read since it’s also been transcribed). It includes engaging interviews with: Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen; Jeff Sachs, economics professor at Columbia University, special adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Sustainable Development Goals and co-editor of the World Happiness Report; and Helen Russell, journalist and author.
What are the Happiest Countries?
The U.N.’s World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants (and also serves as an antidote to our unhealthy obsession with Gross Domestic Product), is typically topped by Nordic countries. In 2018 Finland took the top spot as the happiest country. The rest of the top ten in order of overall happiness were Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. ranked 18th, dropping down four spots from last year. Sachs explained, “The U.S. happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression.”
On September 3, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, will launch a new online course, “The Science of Happiness at Work.” Based on the center’s hugely popular free course “The Science of Happiness,” this new course will teach attendees why it matters so much to promote happiness in the workplace and how to do it. As the center puts it:
People who are happier at work are more committed to their organization, rise to positions of leadership more rapidly, are more productive and creative, and suffer fewer health problems. More and more, research is suggesting that happiness should not be an afterthought for workplaces; it should be an essential goal, entwined with the kinds of 21st century skills that are key to individual and organizational success today.
And a key element of happiness in the workplace is gratitude. In fact, gratitude is a key element of happiness anywhere, according to decades of research on the subject. As researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky — author of the bestselling The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness — explains in this short video, gratitude does a number of things to pave the way for happy feelings.
Thinking about building an employee wellness program?
They’re still quite popular with businesses looking for perks that will benefit both workers and leadership. Per HR Dive, in a 2017 study by Virgin Pulse, 85 percent of employers surveyed said their wellness programs were good for employee engagement, recruitment, retention, and overall company culture. More than just offering exercise- and diet-related options, these programs are increasingly incorporating mental-health components as well. That shift has proven popular with employees, 85 percent of whom say they want help managing stress.
That said, employee wellness programs are far from a magic bullet. Further research reported by HR Dive reveals that while 56 percent of employers think building an employee wellness program has made their employees healthier, only 32 percent of those employees concur with that assessment. And in another survey, 55 percent of employers claimed to offer wellness programs, but only 36 percent of employees said they were aware of those programs.
If your company is interested in building an employee wellness program, you’ll want to think hard about what kinds of wellness are most meaningful to your workers. You also want to design a program your employees will actually use and that has practical benefits for the company as a whole.
As National Friendship Day 2018 approaches on August 5th, it’s the perfect time to reflect on how companies can cultivate workplace friendships and why workplace friendships are important.
In an article about workplace friendships for L & D Daily Advisor, writer Lin Grensing-Pophal cites a Gallup Q-12 employee engagement assessment tool which asks the questions, “Do you have a best friend at work?” Why ask that question? Well, research by Gallup indicates that having a best friend in the workplace correlates with higher job satisfaction rates AND a reduction in the likelihood that an employee will depart to find a different job.
Sadly, a New York Times opinion piece by Adam Grant indicates that the number of employees who say they have a friend (not even a best friend) in the workplace is declining.
When It Comes to Employee Perks, Trendy Is Out.
What kind of employee perks are you offering?
A study from Oregon State University, cited in HR Dive, has found that at least one trendy workplace “extra” probably isn’t doing recruiters much good: Companies that tout in-office happy hours and other opportunities to drink alcohol can turn off certain job candidates.
And those candidates who are fine having drinks on the company tab don’t care enough for it to make a real difference in whether they take the job. So unless there’s good reason for drinking to be a significant part of your corporate culture, there’s little benefit to plugging alcohol among your employee perks.
In fact, research in general has shown that most job candidates aren’t interested in flashy, hip, or faddish employee perks. The savviest candidates — in other words, the ones you may well want working for you — see through the hype. Wellness programs, another fashionable perk, are often more popular with employers than with the employees who are supposed to take advantage of them, another HR Dive post notes. The post suggests that customization — finding ways to mold perks more closely to employees’ individual needs — is key.
Indeed, what both current workers and job candidates want are employee perks that demonstrate an employer’s appreciation for them. As we’ve mentioned, appreciation is about seeing people as individuals and treating them as more than just their job titles. Really, your whole hiring process should be designed to show appreciation for candidates, HR Dive points out:
If a recruitment process lacks personal interaction, applicants may assume that, once hired, they’ll be just another cog in the wheel. And that’s not a great impression to give if you’re looking for employees who can stand out.
And the employee perks you offer should be in line with that philosophy, as well. Rather than trendy, your perks should be aimed at recognizing that employees have a larger life beyond the time they spend working for you.
As a leader you’re probably getting pulled in a million different directions and your time is in short supply. But the time you spend really being present in a sincere, mindful and purposeful way when interacting with your employees and recognizing them for their efforts and contributions is time well-spent.
With a bit of effort you can break some bad habits and start embracing some new practices and ways of thinking that can help boost morale (and ultimately your bottom line). Read on for straightforward ways to maximize employee recognition time.
Being a Good Citizen Is Good for Employers and Workers
Being a good citizen is good for business — in more than one way. Last year, Harvard Business Review reported on the beneficial effects when employees engage in “citizenship behaviors.” That’s another way to say going above and beyond: “helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth.”
Research has found that employees who voluntarily demonstrate citizenship behaviors tend to find their work more meaningful. They also perform better and improve their companies’ performance, as well. For all of these reasons, smart employers want to encourage being a good citizen at their companies.
HBR’s recommendation is to promote “citizenship crafting,” or offering workers the opportunity to figure out how their own strengths and preferences can best be utilized to add value to the business. The idea is straightforward: When employees can help in ways they find personally satisfying and that align with their own values and goals, the help will be better and come more frequently. This is also a relief for managers, who don’t have to push so hard when extra help is needed.
But we know that being a good citizen matters to employees in the more literal sense, too. HR Dive cites two different studies showing that workers overwhelmingly want to work for companies that make a positive difference in the world. Sustainable Brands shared similar findings in a 2016 post:
Nearly three-quarters of employees (74 percent) say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues – and seven-in-10 (70 percent) would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to important issues. Corporate responsibility (CR) is also a significant consideration for candidates when deciding which job to take:
- 58 percent consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work
- 55 percent would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less
- 51 percent won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments
Employers can use the same basic idea behind citizenship crafting to motivate employees to get out and serve their communities, too. By encouraging them to find their own ways of being a good citizen, and giving them the necessary time and support, you can enable your workers to help in places beyond the office — leading to greater satisfaction with themselves and with you. And for many businesses, summer is the perfect time to start thinking in this direction!
Shared experiences among co-workers are instrumental when it comes to building strong and effective teams. Don’t forget to include remote workers when communicating, collaborating and creating shared experiences – they are an important part of your team too!
In an article on shared experiential learning on HR Dive, author Tess Taylor explains the basics:
Employees benefit from having a common experience during the learning process. This social interaction helps individuals digest new concepts and gives them an opportunity to learn from each other.
When employees have shared learning experiences, this can create a common experience that generates conversation and learning even after the event has passed.
Shared experiences give people a chance to learn about each others norms, emotional cues and working habits. Apparently experiences that combine the right balance of meaning and stress seem to be the most effective. For example “light meaning” and “light stress” events like a happy hour can produce small increases in bonding while others with “high stress” and “high meaning” like boot camp can quickly achieve exponential affects in bonding.
Activities like team dinners, intense workout classes, improv classes and volunteer events can help team members learn about each other’s personalities and break down some of the awkwardness of working together. An engaged team is a strong team. They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can problem solve more effectively.
On the flip side, shared experiences that are high stress with little meaning like hazing are negative, not appropriate and should be avoided.
July is the ideal time to throw an employee thank you party (and not just because it’s National Picnic Month). The key to making your company event genuinely fun so it generates both good times and goodwill is your authentic appreciation. By clearly communicating a message of employee appreciation and making employees feel valued, you’ll promote happiness and loyalty. Both keys to a successful workplace culture.
Why Summer Parties Rock
In a blog post on Special Events’ website about why Fortune 500 companies are opting to host summer parties, Nicole Lavin points out:
Companies are recognizing that their employees’ hard work should be celebrated all year-long–and they’re hosting exciting summer events to prove it…
With a “Christmas in July” mind-set, companies are planning off-site corporate events to get their employees out of the office during the hottest time of the year. By hosting corporate events in July and August, companies can enhance employees’ year-round satisfaction and, in turn, increase employee retention.
With Small Workplace Gifts, a Personal Touch Matters
Gifts don’t need to be large or expensive to be meaningful. Small workplace gifts can express your gratitude and make employees feel appreciated. But you need to give them in the right way. As a Balance Careers post on gift-giving etiquette explains:
Adding a personal touch can give a small gift a much bigger impact. For example, if you hand-deliver your gift … instead of sending it in the mail, your gesture will give that present much more meaning. A card with a personal message and handwritten signature is more meaningful than a pre-printed card …
With small workplace gifts, this personal touch is key. Of course you want your employee to value the gift itself, but often it’s going to be something they could afford on their own. What they should remember is that they felt recognized and cared for. And the best way to communicate that feeling is to put in a bit of extra effort.
For starters, think about the intended recipients of your gifts. If your employee picks up coffee every morning at the cafe down the street, even a $5 gift card is going to be a treat for her. On the other hand, no matter how good your home-baked cookies are, they’re not a good fit for an employee with a gluten allergy. As we’ve noted before, the best workplace gifts of any size will bring meaning into the recipient’s life. A small gift they can use or share — or that they just treasure for its uniqueness — is a gift they’ll love.
(more…)People tend to think of recognition and appreciation as the same thing, but knowing the difference and focusing on genuinely appreciating the employees working for you can impact morale, engagement and satisfaction in the workplace. So don’t (just) recognize employees, appreciate them with your sincere gratitude!
What is the Difference?
In an article for Ladders, Paul White described the reasons why employers should stop recognizing employees and start appreciating them. White shared that too often he has encountered employee recognition programs that not only don’t seem to be working, but are in fact generating apathetic, sarcastic and cynical reactions from employees. White believes this is because recognition is different from authentic appreciation.
One of the most powerful things you can do for your employees is communicate in a sincere and heartfelt way that they are valued. And one way to do that is with Corporate Turkey Gift Certificates by gThankYou during the holiday season.
When given with gratitude, the gift of a holiday turkey is a deeply meaningful gift that reminds staff they’re part of something bigger. Employees feel taken care of when they receive a thoughtful gift, and know they matter to you and the business. That’s important. Research by the American Psychological Association found a clear link between feeling valued at work and employees reporting better physical and mental health.
But beyond that, the gift of a Thanksgiving or holiday turkey is imbued with ritual that’s associated with gratitude.
The gift of a turkey has been a beloved and honored holiday gift for employees for over a century. Turkeys are closely associated with the annual rituals of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter that celebrate family and friends, warmth and goodwill.
These holidays revolve around the rituals of a special meal — and employees will be thankful for the gift of the centerpiece of their holiday meal to share with family and friends.
For many, even the act of going to the grocery store to choose the turkey centerpiece for their family celebration is an important and meaningful ritual. With gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates, recipients select the turkey they want, any brand, size and preparation, at the grocery store they want to shop. All gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude are accepted at major grocery chain stores nationally.
As the Harvard Business Review reported in 2013, rituals make us value something more. How? The researchers “found evidence to suggest that personal involvement is the real driver of these effects. In other words, rituals help people to feel more deeply involved in their consumption experience, which in turn heightens its perceived value.”
Nothing says ‘Thank You’ like the gift of a Thanksgiving turkey. Click here for “10 Reasons to Give Employees a Turkey for the Holidays” for a useful 2-page document to share with your management team.
Companies with a giving culture are more successful.
They say it’s better to give than to receive. It turns out it could be way better!
Beloved Wharton School professor Adam Grant’s 2013 bestseller, Give and Take, used groundbreaking research to show that giving can have a revolutionary positive effect on all kinds of businesses. Givers are employees who help others regardless of whether they’re getting something in return. And the best-performing employees and leaders inevitably turn out to be givers. By taking steps to foster a giving culture, companies can significantly improve their productivity and efficiency, and their employee engagement and loyalty. One consulting firm estimated that implementing a giving culture saved it more than $250,000 and 50 workdays. A pharmaceutical company credited its giving culture with saving over $90,000 and 67 days of labor.
Boiled down, Grant’s discovery is simple enough: When people give freely, the co-workers they help want to reciprocate. Over time, givers amass a network of helpful colleagues and peers — in other words, givers inspire others to give. And in a giving culture, people are more apt to speak up and contribute. (The culture is critical, because it can be embarrassing to give if no one else is doing it.) Consequently, in workplaces with a giving culture, things get done faster by employees who are more personally invested.