Planning a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration may seem like a tricky proposition at first glance — drawing attention to romance, among coworkers? That’s an HR headache waiting to happen!
But there’s another way to frame a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration: as a celebration of workplace friendships and the strong bonds that develop between people who work closely together.
“We all need friends at work,” writes University of Kentucky provost and management professor Christine M. Riordan, for Harvard Business Review.
At a time when employee engagement is at an all-time low, it’s important to recognize the power of friendship in the workplace, according to Riordan.
Why Workplace Friendships Deserve Celebration
“Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. … Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work,” Riordan writes.
But workplace friendships are about more than camaraderie and fun.
“It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together,” she writes.
Friendships are particularly vital to the happiness, motivation and productivity of Millennial employees, according to a LinkedIn study.
Another demographic is seeing an increased reliance on friendships: men. According to a recent survey, men are forming more meaningful relationships with other men. And that could have a “transformational” effect in the workplace, according to the Fast Company article, “How Men’s Changing Friendships Might Reshape the Workplace.”
“We already know how workplace friendships can be vital, energizing and meaningful. In addition to their upsides for individual well-being, they also impact team performance, adding another level to the instrumental ways we rely on each other and collaborate,” researcher Michael Kimmel writes for Fast Company.
“We men are also learning that workplace friendships, with both women and men, can be a reason we show up for work every day. We let down our guard, share what’s important, and listen with care. And our lives — in the office and outside it — are so much richer for that.”
Read on for tips on how to plan a Valentine’s Day workplace celebration that reflects the transformational power of friendship between coworkers.
A holiday ham doesn’t have only one part to play in your end-of-the-year celebrations. Check out these great appetizer ideas for passing around at family gatherings — all finger food and easy to execute.
Appetizers You Won’t Be Able to Pass Up
From Ina Garten, The Food Network.
This is one of my all-time favorite holiday appetizers. It starts with premade puff pastry and comes out of the oven bubbling and delicious. (I especially like it because it doesn’t involve filling little individual quiche cups or wrapping dozens of shrimp in bacon. Who has time?)
You can vary the cheese — cheddar is great for a more kid-friendly version, as is part-skim mozzarella — and any hard cheese could substitute for Gruyere. Yum!
Smoked Ham Roll-ups
From Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats.
This is another take on the “make something big and cut it into small bites” school of appetizer cooking. You could skip the horseradish, add some chopped sundried tomatoes to the cream cheese or augment with green onions for color and a little onion flavor.
Deviled Ham Sandwiches
From Lisa Lavery on CHOW.com.
Deviled ham comes together quickly in a food processor, blended with pickle relish, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and spices. Recipe author Lisa Lavery says to served the ham “with fancy crackers, or enjoy it on bread for a departure from the everyday ham sandwich.”
Bonus: This can be made three days ahead, to give you more time for other things on the day of the party.
Mini Buttermilk Biscuits with Ham, Arugula and Fig Preserves
From Louisa’s Catering on GroupRecipes.com.
Feel free to cheat on the buttermilk biscuit part of these tasty little sandwiches, a riff on the classic fig/ham combination commonly found in tapas form (usually with a cured ham, like Parma or prosciutto). Fresh arugula lends crunch and a touch of spice, while the fig preserves go beautifully with the saltiness of the ham.
Mini Frittatas with Ham and Cheese
From Cooking Light. These bite size frittatas will require the purchase of a mini-muffin pan if you don’t already have one. But they’re savory, surprisingly light (even with regular instead of reduced-fat ham) and so simple to make, that could be a worthy investment.
Made with onions, chives, cheddar and egg, these taste great hot and at room temperature, so they’re a cinch to make ahead.
Free Holiday Ham Guide
For a go-to all things ham cookbook and guide, download gThankYou’s free “Holiday Ham Guide”. You’ll find everything you need to select, cook, flavor and serve a juicy, beautifully cooked ham. Your friends and family will thank you!
Inside this popular guide you’ll find more recipes for whole ham as well as glazes and appetizers. What are you waiting for? Download your free copy now!
Building and sustaining a workplace culture of appreciation requires vision, long-term commitment and strong execution.
Research proves appreciating employees day-in and day-out enhances engagement, fuels productivity, retains employees and transforms workplace culture.
And at it’s heart, appreciating employees means finding and making opportunities to share your heartfelt and sincere thanks – now and throughout the year.
gThankYou’s “2020 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar“ – is your unique how-to guide for building that vibrant, lasting culture of appreciation that employees will love.
How-to Guide Provides Research & Tools for Celebrating Employees – FREE!
In this one-of-a-kind eBook, we give you the tools to educate and inspire you to build an everyday culture of appreciation.
This year’s fresh and fun engagement and appreciation Calendar contains:
- Recent trends in employee appreciation, engagement and gratitude in the workplace
- Creative ideas for employee appreciation
- New case studies of appreciation in action
- Exciting new resources for building a healthier, happier workplace.
It’s the perfect resource to inspire 2020 employee engagement and appreciation planning!
Every year at this time, we share our brand-new Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation and Celebration Calendar for the coming year. It’s free and our holiday gift to you and your colleagues!
Easy Month-by-Month Celebrations
Each month identifies “Don’t Miss Celebrations” and “Ready-to-Go Celebrations” to make your job engaging and appreciation colleagues easier and more fun! Use our ideas “as is” or modify them to better meet your needs.
This Calendar resource is intended to inspire your employee engagement and appreciation planning. Use our examples and ideas for a basis of brainstorming with your team for GREAT ideas that fit your workplace culture.
Let us know what works well for you and we might feature you in next year’s Calendar!!
Get a jump start on 2020 by downloading your free copy now and sharing with colleagues!
We wish you and your colleagues an inspired and joyful new year!
Redeeming your gThankYou! Ham Gift Certificate is easy!
For the best service, we recommend choosing a traditional chain grocery store such as Kroger, Safeway, Shop-Rite, Publix or other similar types of grocery stores in your area.
Redeem (and enjoy!) your Ham voucher today — or whenever works for you. Your holiday gift is good through the end of April of next year. You get to choose when to enjoy your gift and where to redeem it. It’s all up to you!
Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to redeem your gThankYou Certificate.
Much of what we know of ham is the cured city or country variety that you simply heat and serve. But lately, I’ve been seeing more ham labeled “uncured” on grocer’s shelves. What’s going on?
Uncured ham is also called fresh ham. It’s the same cut as cured, but not embellished with any of the brine and smoke or other flavorings the more common city hams and gourmet country hams. It even has a light pink or grey color, as you would expect in uncooked meat. It requires a little extra preparation and cooking time than its cured counterparts. Here’s a good explanation of ham types from the City Cook.
You could infer that uncured hams are a healthier alternative. Many are labelled organic or natural. And with uncured hams you won’t get any of the nitrites or nitrates used in many cured hams – a controversial addition for some. Fresh hams are described as far less salty, too, even if you brine the pork yourself.
But the reason I think we’re seeing more interest in the uncured variety of hams is this: We continue to be in the golden age of DIY cooking. This trend grew up with Martha Stewart’s Omnimedia empire, still going strong after many years, and continues to evolve with widening demand for local and organic foods.
In certain ways, people are spending more time in the kitchen. This is particularly true around the holidays. So it makes sense that uncured hams are lining shelves.
Whether you prefer cured or uncured ham, make sure you know how to handle, cook and store your ham safely.
Cooking and Caring for Uncured Ham
Here are a few tips and recipes worth noting:
- The USDA has a food safety sheet for Ham that’s handy. Here’s a time table for cooking fresh hams. And you’ll want to see this chart on safely storing ham.
- A Perfect Ham Recipe from the New York Times.
- Smoke your own Ham with these instructions from eHow.
- Epicurious offers a great recipe for Grilled Molasses and Rum-Glazed Fresh Ham.
- Brine your own fresh ham using this beloved Home-Cured Holiday Ham recipe by Chef John at Allrecipes.
We love pulling out the grill in winter, so we’re thinking of doing a basic brine and then throwing it on the grill. Share your favorite fresh ham cooking technique or recipe with us!
Learn More About Cooking Ham
To learn more about cooking ham, download our FREE eBook, a “Holiday Ham Guide”!
This popular free guide will walk you through how to choose a ham, offers lots of recipe and glaze choices, explains the various ways to cook ham and provides helpful advice such as carving and storing ham leftovers. It’s your go-to guide for all things ham.
Download your copy today and delight your guests next time you serve a special ham meal.
Give the Gift of a Holiday Ham
Looking for a holiday gift that everyone appreciates and enjoys? Share the gift of a holiday ham and let recipients choose the ham that they would like for the centerpiece of their holiday meal. It’s a thoughtful gift that evokes the gratitude of the holiday season.
gThankYou! Ham Gift Certificates are good for any brand, preparation and size of half or whole ham and redeemable at grocery stores nationwide. To learn more check out our website and our frequently asked questions.
Few centerpieces are more anticipated than a perfectly pink holiday ham, glazed with a spiky coarse mustard and sweet fruit preserves, and sliced into lovely petals.
But if you’re cooking a ham for the first time, getting from the package in the grocery store to that beautiful Christmas Day dinner-table picture can seem like a daunting journey. So, for the newbie, this is our ham primer.
Choosing and Cooking Your Ham
Start with a cured or smoked (precooked) ham. (You can definitely make a fresh one, but today let’s leave that to the more experienced cooks.)
The most popular kind of ham is a city ham. Much like a brined Butterball turkey, city hams are wet-cured, injected with a mixture of salt, seasonings and curing agents. An article on Real Simple claims that “bone-in city hams tend to be moister and more flavorful than the boneless variety,” though both come ready to eat.
Country ham is favored in the south. These hams are dry-cured with a salt/seasoning rub, then smoked and aged. Real Simple explains, “salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.”
Bon Appétit recommends getting a ham with “some kind of bone in it. It will give you a sense of where to take the ham’s temperature to determine doneness (see below), plus, that leftover bone will bring a soup or pot of beans to the next level.”
According to a Rachael Ray how-to, “spiral hams cook faster because the heat penetrates better.” Either way, if you have a whole ham, be prepared to dedicate your oven to it for a good chunk of time.
Alton Brown, the lovable science-geek chef on the Food Network, recommends warming a precooked ham for three to four hours at a low temperature (250°F) under foil, then increasing the heat, adding a brown sugar/bourbon glaze and then upping the heat (350°F) for a final hour.
A classic holiday ham recipe on Chow.com estimates five hours of cooking and prep time, using a temperature of 325°F. The Neelys’ recipe is a little faster, about three hours for a 14-pound ham at 350°F. Choose a recipe that fits your time frame; remember that the ham will smell wonderful while it cooks!
Choose a glaze for your ham, usually a combination of something savory or spicy, like mustard, cloves, garlic or ginger, and something sweet, like orange juice, pineapple, fresh or dried figs or even Coca-Cola. The glaze usually goes on in the last 60 to 30 minutes of cooking. Check out our recent post, 5 Ways to Glaze a Holiday Ham, for more recipe ideas. And our FREE Holiday Ham Guide is full of glaze and recipe ideas!
Finally, carve your ham. If you have a spiral sliced ham, that’s already been done for you. If you don’t, look to a step-by-step guide like the one Jeffrey Elliot put together at Huffington Post, or this one from Hunter Lewis at Saveur.
For a video, watch Ron Stapleton from Stapleton’s Quality Meats demonstrate how to carve a holiday ham. And avoid some common mistakes, like drying out the ham or burning the glaze, by reading this tip sheet from Bon Appétit.
Free Ham Cookbook
Be sure to download our FREE “Holiday Ham” Cookbook for more tips and recipes for the perfect holiday ham dinner. Click the image below to download your copy now!
We hope these tips and resources for cooking a Holiday Ham help you enjoy cooking yours. Happy Holidays!
The craziness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, make it easy to lose the joy and spirit of the holidays. Feeling tired and stressed with the holidays looming ahead? You are not alone.
Your colleagues likely feel this way too. When it comes to sharing year-end employee appreciation, no one wants yet another holiday trinket.
Take Back the Holidays
You can take back the holidays with gratitude.
Gratitude is transformative – it lifts spirits, reminds us of the goodness in others and inspires hope and happiness. It changes our focus so we see more clearly what’s really important.
What employees want most is your personal attention and appreciation for all they do.
Let Gratitude be your Guide for Holiday Appreciation
Help colleagues and friends reclaim holiday spirit with gestures of kindness and gratitude. In the process of making a memorable holiday for others, you’ll rejuvenate your holiday spirit too!
Plenty of time remains to show employees you care about them and value all that they do.
Ideas for Sharing Holiday Workplace Gratitude:
- A holiday card written from the heart.
Put your sincere and heart-felt appreciation in writing. It is the most memorable gift you can share.
Employees often say private or public recognition is more memorable than monetary rewards. (For card-writing inspiration, check out our guide, “Writing Thank You Notes Employees Will Treasure.”)
- A gift that enriches employee holiday celebrations.
Focus on what makes the holidays special and memorable – sharing them with loved ones.
A gift that contributes to the holiday meal such as a gThankYou! Turkey Or Ham Certificate is a way to make your appreciation especially meaningful.
- Unexpected “no strings-attached” time off.
Who wouldn’t love a few unexpected hours to help manage holiday demands?
- Host a simple holiday work break.
With the stress of the holidays, sometimes what people want most is real connection and a little kindness. Create an opportunity for colleagues to enjoy time together without the pressure of rushing back to work.
It is as simple as sharing coffee and a holiday treat while everyone has a chance to unwind and share stories. Not everyone can do this easily, but if you can, it builds bonds and company spirit.
- Throw a party employees love.
While holiday parties are time-honored, they are not always a beloved workplace tradition. Catered meals and open bars are generous, but what employees remember is authenticity. A story that’s always resonated with us is that of “The Nicest Party I’ve Ever Been To.” The author shares what was most memorable to him – how much his employer wanted to throw the party.
Host a holiday event that makes employees feel like the stars of the show. Invite families, if you want. It doesn’t need to be glitzy or fancy. Your authentic gratitude needs to shine through.
With anything you choose, let gratitude and appreciation take center-stage. It will focus everyone on what’s really important – families, friends, health and good fortune.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!
Preparing a Christmas ham, especially if it’s been conveniently pre-smoked or cured for you, is about the easiest thing you can do for a centerpiece. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little something to it—namely, a sweet, decadent glaze to make your ham that much more delicious.
Here are five tips from food bloggers we love on how to make your ham even more dazzling this holiday.
5 Ways to Glaze a Holiday Ham
1. Blackberry- and mustard-glazed ham, from The Cottage Home
With just four ingredients (blackberry preserves, whole-grain mustard, apple cider, and a precooked ham), this holiday entrée couldn’t be simpler. Blogger Lindsay reports that it’s “a great crowd-pleasing ham … even my husband, who would much prefer some type of red meat, absolutely loved it.”
2. Roasted fresh ham with maple spice glaze, from Leite’s Culinaria
This recipe is for a fresh ham, but you could use the maple glaze with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg on a precooked one, too. Prepared simply by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, this ham is roasted in the oven with little fuss. One 8- to 10-lb. ham will feed “6 teenage boys, 16 adults, or 26 twenty-something models.”
3. Red currant-pomegranate glazed ham, from Taking On Magazines (One Recipe at a Time)
“I may not make ham in any other way again,” writes a blogger who calls herself the Mom Chef, describing this recipe. Pomegranate juice “infuses” the ham with flavor, with an assist from red currant jelly, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard.
Also, it’s made in a slow cooker, which frees the oven for other pursuits.
4. Pineapple mustard-glazed ham from The Bitten Word
“Ham and pineapple is, of course, a classic combo,” write the Bitten Word boys, venerable magazine-recipe-testers and entertaining blog hosts. “Adding country-style whole-grain mustard keeps this glaze from being too sickly sweet, and using fresh pineapples rescues the ham from Kennedy-era cliches—or at least it clears your conscience.”
As originally printed in Martha Stewart Living magazine, this glaze is made with fresh pineapple cooked in a simple syrup (sugar/water), and the ham itself is drizzled with white wine and studded with cloves. Perfect.
5. Orange-glazed ham with mustard sauce from Jamie Cooks It Up
Jamie, the intrepid host of Jamie Cooks It Up, posted this recipe right before Christmas last year, advising readers to “pair it with a simple-to-make mustard sauce and your main course will be singing a new song of gladness.”
The glaze is a simple combination of butter, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, cinnamon and cloves. It’s like the best of all the previous recipes combined.
Just think about the delicious leftover ham you’ll have from these recipes….
Your biggest challenge is which of these delectable glazes to choose – enjoy and happy holidays!
One of our favorite moments is when we unveil the new Enclosure Cards for Christmas and the winter holidays. It’s our own little version of the traditional tree-lighting. 🎄
This season, we have some exciting new designs to help you offer a meaningful “thank you” to your hardworking team members.
Write a Note of Appreciation
What do employees want most for the holidays? Your appreciation and thanks for their efforts, loyalty and contributions.
When you share your holiday employee gifts, include a sincere and heartfelt note of gratitude. It will transform your gift-giving – lifting spirits, making your gift memorable and ensuring recipients feel valued and appreciated.
It’s why we offer attractive Enclosure Cards for the holidays and everyday occasions – free with every purchase so all gThankYou gifts are wrapped in gratitude.
New Holiday Card Designs
Whether you prefer elegant or playful, snowy scenes or strings of lights, “happy holidays” or “peace and joy,” there’s an appealing holiday-themed Enclosure Card to fit your company’s style. Create your own message of appreciation or use one of ours – Click to see all our Christmas and Winter Card Designs.
Here are our newest additions for your holiday note of cheer and gratitude:
Download a Catalog of Popular Designs
Want a PDF of our popular designs to share with colleagues?
As always, gThankYou Enclosure Cards come free with any purchase of our Certificates of Gratitude. Choose your favorite design, include a thoughtfully-crafted message of appreciation and sign it in text or with a logo. We’ll gladly send you a proof to approve, and we’ll make edits until you love it!
There’s still time to give the workplace holiday gift everyone loves. Order your gThankYou Certificates of Gratitude now – for ham or turkey, pie, ice cream or groceries and let your holiday gratitude bring joy and appreciation to your workplace.
Wishing you and your colleagues a wonderful holiday season.
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.
Did you know that our American Thanksgiving is just one of many gratitude-related Thanksgiving traditions celebrated around the world?
Traditions differ from country to country, but gratitude in action is cause for universal celebration.
The spirit and significance of giving thanks is the same wherever you go — with or without roast turkey and cranberry sauce. So what does giving thanks look like around the world?
Celebrations worldwide of “thanks-giving” share several elements, no matter what people are eating, wearing or singing. We all honor:
- harvest bounty
- communal harmony
- gratitude in action
That last one, gratitude in action, is an important one. Simply thinking about gratitude isn’t a cause for celebration. It’s about how we act on our gratitude. We’re giving thanks, not having thanks!
The French word for Thanksgiving is action de grâce. Translated literally, then, Thanksgiving is a day for “actions of grace.”
Read on for six “actions of grace” traditions from around the world.
Your organization flourishes and grows thanks to the commitment, creativity, and, most of all, hard work of loyal team members – do they know that???
Two BIG words — “thank you” — make a world of difference in the workplace. Study after study shows employees work harder, work smarter, and are retained longer when they feel appreciated.
Holiday employee letters are an annual tradition for major corporation CEOs, directors of government agencies, and university presidents.
Why? Because thank-you notes work! (Research proves thank-you notes work even better than cash bonuses, say HR experts.)
6 Tips to Writing Meaningful Employee Thank-You Notes
When you write your letter of appreciation this season — whether for the first time or as part of your yearly ritual — here are tips to help you put your sincere gratitude on paper:
- Go beyond recognition, which focuses on employee performance, to appreciation, which acknowledges an employee’s character and intrinsic worth. People want to feel valued for who they are.
- Describe specific ways employees have contributed to your organization’s success this year.
- Speak from the heart. Be honest. Be sincere. Avoid sentimentality which can come off as fake.
- Reflect on the meaning of the season. Thanksgiving is a treasured American tradition that has meaning to everyone.
- Deliver your letter on paper, in person. With today’s overflowing inboxes, no one wants another email.
- Package your letter with a thoughtful gift that reflects the spirit of Thanksgiving.
gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates easily fit in an envelope alongside your thank-you note.
Or, choose to customize your Certificates with a Free Enclosure Card featuring a heartfelt message of gratitude and your logo.
Real-Life Examples of Thanksgiving Employee Letters
For real-life employee holiday letter examples, DOWNLOAD our popular free guide, “How to Put the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving.”
When you express genuine appreciation with employees, they share it back not only with you – but also with colleagues and customers. That’s what’s so remarkable about gratitude –gratitude is contagious and makes givers and recipients feel great!
End the year with your workplace feeling valued and appreciated. Brighten everyones’ holidays with your thoughtful holiday letter of gratitude.
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.
Learning how to write a Thanksgiving letter to employees can be a transformative experience — for you, your staff and your company.
Take it from Brian Buffini, founder and chairman of the real estate training and coaching firm Buffini & Company.
In a recent column for Entrepreneur, Buffini writes about why sharing Thank You notes “should be as automatic as brushing your teeth.”
Buffini got the idea early in his career to write 10 notes a day to people he’d recently met, to business contacts and friends, or simply to those who came to mind.
Note-writing has been part of his routine over a quarter century. He writes thousands of notes in any given year.
“I’m a prolific note-writer to my clients, staff, family and friends. I firmly believe that the cumulative effect of all that goodwill over time has been one of the key ingredients for my success,” he writes.
One of the most important times to show appreciation through notes is at the holidays. At Thanksgiving in particular, we’re naturally drawn to gratitude, expressed and received.
Learn how to write a Thanksgiving letter to employees with gThankYou’s free guide on writing the perfect holiday Thank You letter. This step-by-step guide teaches all of the basics. It also includes lots of real-life examples written by CEOs and other leaders to inspire you.
Read on to find out more, and to see how Buffini has helped build his company culture through Thank You notes.
FREE eBook: How to Write a Thanksgiving Letter to Employees
Delight Employees This Holiday Season
Research backs up what successful organizations have known all along – that appreciating employees day-in and day-out feeds productivity, retains employees and transforms workplace culture.
In other words, as Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely says, “recognition drives engagement and engagement drives productivity.”
Gifts are a tangible way to express your appreciation for each employee’s contribution to your organization. It may seem like a simple gesture, but expressing genuine appreciation matters more to recipients than you may think.
Consider this: among workers who feel valued, 88% feel engaged and 93% say their motivated to do their best. (American Psychological Association).
And, when gratitude is regularly expressed, employee engagement, productivity and customer service ratings are 14% higher (Bersin by Deloitte).
Gifts Send a Powerful Message
What makes an employee gift successful? Hint: It’s not about the money.
The average employer spends $79 per employee on gifts, but most workers say they would be just as happy with lower-cost (or even no-cost) alternatives. What matters most is the spirit in which the gift is given.
The essence of workplace holiday gift-giving is gratitude: your gratitude for employees’ contributions over the past year and employees’ gratitude toward you for showing your appreciation.
Gift-Giving is an Opportunity to Show You Care
Workplace leaders understand gift-giving is an important opportunity – to show you care and make employees feel valued.
So how does one choose a successful employee gift?
Find out in our new eBook, “Making Employee Gifts Count, Secrets for Gift-Giving Success”!
In this free eBook, you learn from workplace experts not only why gift-giving is so important, but also how to do it well and effectively.
Inside this eBook you’ll learn:
- Why workplace gifts matter
- Understanding what workers value
- The best workplace gifts
- How much is enough
- Gift-giving do’s and don’ts
- How to make your gift memorable
Why wait? Download your FREE COPY Now!
Make Your Workplace Gifts Memorable
Sharing your sincere gratitude is what will make your gift truly memorable.
Just ask Sheldon Yellen who as CEO of BELFOR Holdings Inc. writes over 9,000 employee thank you and birthday notes a year. “Yellen has found taking the time to write out a card for each and every person has created a culture of compassion through the whole company.”
Whenever possible, put your appreciation in writing. It will not only be memorable but will likely become a keepsake. Think about those times someone took the time to pen a note of thanks to you. Chances are you kept that note.
Whether you intend to write a holiday letter to your entire workplace or have plans to hand-write a thank you note to your team, we applaud you and encourage you to take advantage of our resources for inspiration and real-world examples.
How to Write a Thanksgiving Letter to Employees
Your FREE guide to putting the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving for your workplace.
gThankYou’s popular resource for writing a thoughtful Thanksgiving or holiday employee letter. Full of examples of real employee letters and how-to insight for crafting a meaningful letter employees will treasure.
How to Write Thank You Notes Employees Will Treasure
Our go-to resource for writing meaningful employee and customer thank you notes – anytime!
Understand the basic pillars of praise and the anatomy of an effective Thank You note. A great resource for anyone new to workplace thank you notes or who wants to learn how to make them more impactful.
Download this FREE guide now!
The holidays can be the most rewarding time of year for gift-givers and receivers alike. We hope you find our gift-giving guide useful now and throughout the year, and we wish you and your entire team all the best this season.
Should your holiday gift-giving plans involve the much loved gift of a Turkey Or Ham, we would be honored to serve you.If you’re still ordering frozen turkey gifts for your employees, this should be the year that you replace that burdensome and onerous approach with Turkey Gift Certificates from gThankYou. We assure you that this easy process will literally and figuratively lighten your load.
Turkeys remain the quintessential holiday employee gift. Always the star on the table at Thanksgiving gatherings across the country, turkeys are a welcome and appreciated gift. They are the perfect way to underscore how thankful you are for your employees’ contributions and loyalty.
There is no longer a good reason to struggle with frozen turkey gifts. gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates are good for any brand and size whole turkey, at major grocery chain stores nationally. Recipients love having the ability to choose the turkey they want for their family. Instead of having your team spend time on frozen turkey logistics, they can spend it on what really matters – engaging employees and sharing heartfelt appreciation.
It seems that fall is upon us suddenly, as is the proliferation of pumpkin spice everything. This means that it’s time to start thinking about showing gratitude to employees this Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that is quintessentially American and an ideal reminder for us all to embrace and share feelings of gratitude and togetherness. The gift of a Thanksgiving turkey for employees means that you are providing the centerpiece to their meal as they gather with friends and family. Contributing to the good will that permeates Thanksgiving ensures that your generosity and thoughtfulness will be remembered by your employee and their guests.
There is no other gift that strengthens employee bonds and good feelings towards your company as well as the gift of a Thanksgiving turkey.
The Ultimate Resource for Serving a Perfectly Cooked Holiday Turkey
Everyone loves an unexpected gift!
At gThankYou we think your holiday Turkey Gift deserves a special unexpected addition – our Turkey cookbook and guide!
gThankYou’s newly updated Guide is much more than a traditional cookbook. It’s the complete resource for serving a beautifully cooked turkey from start-to-finish.
This Ultimate Turkey Guide is the perfect complement to the gift of a Thanksgiving turkey – and FREE!
Download your copy today and share this helpful how-to guide with coworkers. We think you’ll love it!
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.
A fantastic opportunity for easy team building is….Halloween.
If the extent of your company’s Halloween celebration is a dish of candy corn and a few streamers, you’re missing out.
Engagement, not passive entertainment, is key to successful team building. Halloween is one of the easiest holidays to engage employees in fun activities that everyone will enjoy and that don’t need to break your budget.
Halloween is a great opportunity to foster employee engagement and workplace camaraderie — are you taking advantage of it?
Here’s what makes Halloween such a standout engagement time:
It’s popular. According to a 2015 Harris Poll, Halloween ranks third among U.S. adults for favorite holiday. Only Christmas and Thanksgiving rank higher! Halloween outranks the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and even “my birthday.”
It’s participatory. From pumpkins and costume parades to trick-or-treating, Halloween gets people moving, talking and connecting with one another.
It’s creative. Nearly everything we do to celebrate Halloween encourages creativity, from carving the perfect pumpkin to sewing a one-of-a-kind costume.
It’s fun! Yes, a little fun plays an important role at work! Regular opportunities for play in the workplace break down barriers, boost creativity and optimism, lower stress and increase motivation.
Read on for quick employee engagement ideas for a successful workplace Halloween!