Data, numbers, graphs and percentages only go so far in engaging with employees and customers. Organizational storytelling fills in the gaps and actually connects with people. It provides the emotional context for why the organization does what it does.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, has “a mental pantry of stories at his ready” to explain his company and business philosophies, according to Chief Executive magazine.
“It’s possible for a leader to have a grand vision, but it’s not possible to turn that vision into reality unless countless others adopt it as their own and work tirelessly in concert to achieve it,” Chief Executive’s Bill Baker writes.
Inspiring others requires good storytelling. You can watch Hsieh in this video clip telling a story of extraordinary customer service at Zappos.
He could have just rolled out a bunch of numbers — customer satisfaction ratings, employee satisfaction figures — instead, he gives a moving example of a Zappos service rep sending flowers to a customer whose husband had just died.
Support your stories with data when necessary, of course. Data is an essential resource. But six months from now, what people will remember most clearly is the story, not the data.
“When just about every fact on the planet is but one mouse click away, stories take on new importance in every business enterprise. From leadership to team building to branding to knowledge management, narrative has become a powerful — and essential — tool,” Daniel Pink writes in his New York Times bestseller, “A Whole New Mind.”
Building great workplace culture doesn’t just happen inside the workplace. Sometimes going out into the community with your team is the best way to strengthen company culture.
The United Nations’ Public Service Day is June 23, and it’s an opportunity for this kind of culture-building community outreach.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes Public Service Day as a celebration of the individuals and organizations dedicated to “serving people and improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable.”
What does serving the public good have to do with building great workplace culture? A lot, it turns out.
A 2017 study from Deloitte revealed that employers who encourage and promote volunteering have better morale, workplace atmosphere and brand perception.
Community involvement and public service are what employees want.
Among the 1,000 employees Deloitte surveyed, 70 percent believe volunteer activities are more likely to boost staff morale than company-sponsored happy hours. More than three-quarters say volunteering is essential to employee wellbeing.
Yet, according to Deloitte, most companies aren’t cashing in on these potential benefits. Less than 40 percent of employees surveyed said their employers provide access to company-sponsored or coordinated volunteer programs.
“Employers have an opportunity to build on their volunteerism programs by creating a culture that celebrates volunteering and empowers volunteers to be more active,” Deloitte’s Doug Marshall tells Business News Daily.
Start now on Public Service Day! Workplace volunteerism and showing gratitude to public servants are well-recognized for building great workplace culture.
Employee appreciation gifts for the 4th of July are the perfect summertime “Thank You.” Delight the whole family with gift certificates for ice cream, pie, or turkey or ham from gThankYou.
It’s the perfect way to augment this summer’s hottest employee perk.
“Summer Fridays” are all the rage this year, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article.
One manager tells Businessweek she decided to join the trend and formally give her employees Friday afternoons off all summer because it just makes sense.
“In the summer, we’re so happy to get out early and enjoy an ice cream. It’s not life changing but it’s so much fun to be able to get out of the office at 2 p.m.,” she says.
Giving employees a gift certificate for that ice cream — or for a turkey or ham to grill over the weekend, or pie to bring to their family 4th of July picnic — is an added token of gratitude they’ll love.
gThankYou Gift Certificates make it easy, convenient and affordable to share grocery treats with employees this summer!
And it’s not too late to order in time for the 4th of July.
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.
Employee welcome gifts for new hires and interns send a message from day one that your company values and appreciates its staff.
Welcome gifts show your company is ready and excited for their contributions.
At the San Francisco office of ad agency DDB, new employees on their first day are chauffeured to work in a Town Car. Flowers, a hoodie and a water bottle greet them at their desk.
Plus, all new hires at DDB get a gift card to a local coffee shop where they can get to know their new coworkers.
From the get-go, DDB is sending a welcoming message: We’re glad you’re here. Come and join us!
First days on the job are nerve-wracking. Make it easier on your new hires with employee welcome gifts. And don’t forget your summer interns — give them the very best first impression of the “real world” and why they should consider working for you.
Sharing appreciation couldn’t be sweeter — share a doughnut today with colleagues, customers and friends! It’s National Doughnut Day — always the first Friday of June.
There’s a doughnut for everybody. Doughnuts are the most “craveable” treat in America.
Give your employee appreciation program a little boost to kick off the summer season — bring in doughnuts to share with your team.
Or turn the day into a fun opportunity for community outreach. Doughnut shops like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts always give away freebies on National Doughnut Day, so why not bring the celebration to those who are homebound and hand out doughnuts with your team at a local nursing home?
Be sure to post photos of your celebration to company social media accounts using the hashtags #NationalDoughnutDay and #GivingIsSweet.
Not that we need a reason to celebrate National Doughnut Day, but it turns out that among the unofficial food holidays we love, it’s “one of the more legitimate food holidays out there.”
The history behind National Doughnut Day is pretty interesting, too.
Workplace gratitude spreads through small, everyday acts of kindness. Spread workplace gratitude in your place of work June 1 to celebrate Say Something Nice Day! It’s an easy opportunity to take time to engage with staff and share your appreciation.
Saying something nice to employees (and doing it well) isn’t a squishy soft skill without hard benefits. It’s a critical aspect of leadership and business success.
Even a quick look at recent headlines shows that civility, positivity and gratitude are sorely lacking in the workplace today.
“Does HR Have a ‘Humanity’ Problem?” — that was the question an HR Dive headline posed earlier this week. It was prompted in part by the BackChannel essay, “Human Resources Isn’t About Humans.”
The title of the BackChannel essay is tongue-in-cheek. In fact, author Karen Wickre argues, HR is about humans — or it should be. She makes suggestions for how HR professionals can cultivate a more humane workplace.
She calls for an investment in emotional intelligence training and managers who consistently lead by example day in and day out. All employees need to get the message “that their culture rewards empathy and social skills.”
“People who are empathetic, inclusive and employ people skills to good effect should be recognized for progress and victories when they occur, and this recognition should matter for promotions and new assignments,” she writes.
HR Dive’s Ryan Golden agrees. Employees need to be acknowledged for doing the right thing, he says: “In the scramble of the day-to-day, good deeds and Good Samaritans often get lost in the sauce. Executives who are serious about creating a pro-social culture won’t shy away from seeking out those stories. Thank You notes are awesome!”
Thank You notes are awesome, and so is simply saying something nice!
Sounds great, but you may be wondering … what does “nice” mean in this context? And are some compliments more effective than others?
Marc Flanders, principal at consulting firm WC Solutions Group, sees a common mistake in workplace safety engagement.
The mistake is in how incentives are targeted, Flanders tells EHS Today. Companies may think they’re checking off all the right boxes by incentivizing safety, then reward the wrong employees.
“I see some companies put all their budget into the people who are safe for a year,” Flanders says. “I tell them, ‘Wait a minute. You’re spending all your money on the people who are safe. What are you doing to change the behavior of people who aren’t safe?'”
Successful safety incentives programs need to have an “everybody wins” mentality. After all, a workplace isn’t really safe until everybody is safe.
That’s why safety incentive programs “should involve everyone in the safety process, starting with top management, going to supervisors, to the employees and to the individuals managing the incentives program,” Flanders says.
June is National Safety Month. What better time to evaluate and promote your safety program? Engaging employees in National Safety Month is a great way to ensure your program is inclusive and reaching the right employees.
Have you downloaded gThankYou’s free Employee Appreciation Calendar yet? A summer chock-full of employee appreciation activities is your buffer against seasonal disengagement!
The rising temperatures and increased distractions of summer have an inescapable impact on employee attention.
Nobody wants to be like Gary Lumbergh, the despised Office Space boss who tells his employees to “go ahead and come in” Saturday (and Sunday), but what do you do on Friday afternoons when you can practically see employee motivation wafting away in the summer breeze?
The trick is to work with summertime distractions, not against them.
“From an HR professional’s perspective, summer provides a golden opportunity to mix up the workplace routine by providing unfettered access to outdoor activities — something not always available during other seasons,” Paul Falcone, HR exec and best-selling author, writes for SHRM.
Fun summer holidays like Say Something Nice Day, 4th of July, National Ice Cream Day and Labor Day are an opportunity to enjoy the season together and build on everyday employee appreciation goals. Everyone enjoys an afternoon break for an ice cream party, outdoor games or an all-family picnic. There are loads of easy, affordable ways to engage with employees and make them feel valued.
HR initiatives like employee appreciation are not a “nice to have” bonus — they are strategic. But a recent study shows organizations still don’t view HR as a strategic contributor, despite the proven success of these contributions.
Now’s the time to put a plan into place and make sure your team’s strategy is as seamless as possible!
Turkey or Ham gift vouchers from gThankYou are the perfect way to reward employees during summer BBQ season.
Memorial Day is almost here — ’tis the season for family cookouts, employee picnics and other opportunities for summer barbecuing fun.
gThankYou! Turkey or Ham Gift Vouchers allow recipients the freedom to choose any brand or preparation of whole turkey or whole or half ham, at virtually any major grocery store nationwide.
A turkey or ham centerpiece to a special meal is a meaningful, appreciated gift that employees can enjoy with family and friends. It’s always appropriate and always valued.
Turkey or Ham gifts are convenient for your company, too! Ordering is easy either online or by calling 888-484-1658. Receive your Turkey or Ham vouchers as soon as the next business day — we ship same day on nearly all orders!
And, all gThankYou gift certificates come with free customizable “Thank You” Enclosure Cards to fit any season or occasion.
Need a large number of vouchers or have a distributed workforce? We can help! Not only do we offer volume pricing, we can create custom online ordering for your distributed workplace. Call us at 888-484-1658 to learn more.
The software company Epic Systems proves you don’t have to be located in Silicon Valley to attract tech talent or have a vibrant culture of “epic” employee engagement.
Epic attracts employees from far and wide to its campus situated amid farm fields outside Madison, WI. The company has mushroomed in recent years and now employs more than 9,000.
Epic has a reputation for good pay, great culture and a quirky, fun-filled campus that provides many on-site amenities to employees.
A rare interview with Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner last month is an insightful look at her unique approach to employee engagement, development and management.
Read on for takeaways from this interview on Epic’s strong employee engagement ethic.
Wellness incentives help reward and encourage healthy employee choices like regular exercise, annual checkups, smoking cessation and nutritious cooking.
If your company isn’t already using wellness incentives, now’s a great time to start!
May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, with Employee Health and Fitness Day celebrated the third Wednesday of the month — this year on May 17.
All month, organizations across the country are raising awareness about the benefits of a healthy workplace.
Healthy employees are better employees.
A study of more than 20,000 employees at three large, geographically dispersed U.S. companies found that employees who exercised more and ate more fruits and vegetables had better performance and much lower absenteeism than their less health-conscious coworkers.
This month, help equip your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to improve their wellbeing — and help them develop habits that will last year-round! Incentivizing healthy choices is a great way to reinforce the benefits and encourage longterm lifestyle changes.
Your organization doesn’t have to be a school to celebrate teacher appreciation in the workplace this week!
This is the week to thank all teachers, from classroom teachers to your employee development leaders — anyone who spreads the joy of learning and sharing knowledge in your organization and community.
Teacher Appreciation Week is underway and continues through Friday, and National Teacher Day is Tuesday, May 9.
Engage all employees in showing gratitude to teachers this week and celebrating the gift of learning!
In today’s demanding and fast-paced business culture, “leaders would be wise to develop a strong learning environment at the workplace,” Naphtali Hoff writes in a HuffPo article, “Build a Team of Workplace Teachers.”
He quotes the celebrated CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch: “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
“But learning alone is not enough,” Hoff continues. “Leaders that want to stay ahead must make sure that their companies also place a premium on teaching.”
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!
New research analysis by Gallup shows only two in 10 employees “strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.” Are you sure your management team’s employee development skills are working effectively?
Even if your company is above average at employee development, there’s an “immediate disruption” happening in the workplace that is a game changer for everyone.
That’s according to Gallup’s new research paper Re-Engineering Performance Management. The old ways of handling employee development and recognition simply aren’t working, the paper explains, and it’s time for HR to reevaluate and overhaul.
It starts with management developing a new outlook and new skills.
In other words, if you want employee development that drives results, your team needs to be willing to develop, too!
Ultimately what we all want is the same: a happy, creative, productive and dedicated workforce in which employees feel recognized and appreciated for their work and have a sense of belonging to the company culture.
What Happened, and Why Is Change Necessary?
Time for a reality check.
Just 20 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their company’s performance management system motivates them.
Meanwhile, organizations are making overly confident assumptions about the effectiveness of their employee development and management systems — and wasting “tens of thousands of hours and tens of millions of dollars on activities that not only don’t work but also drive out top talent,” Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist, writes in the latest Gallup paper.
Moreover, Harter writes, “the future of work is being shaped by extraordinary changes in technology, globalization and overwhelming information flow.”
In this climate, employee development is more effective than employee management, Carter explains:
“Workers are asking for something different. They want a coach, not a boss. They want clear expectations, accountability, a rich purpose, and especially ongoing feedback and coaching.”
The price tag for not pursuing what workers want is steep. Gallup estimates that poor management and lost productivity among disengaged employees costs between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year.
So what’s the solution? Gallup has some answers. Their valuable Re-Engineering Performance Management report “presents our best analytics and advice for our clients or anyone considering transforming their performance management system.”
Let’s take a look.
Nurse appreciation is the focus of National Nurses Week, which begins May 6. Plan your Nurses Week celebrations now!
Nurses could use more appreciation, according to an informal poll on the professional networking and discussion site Mighty Nurse. The poll asked “Do you feel appreciated?” — and more than three-quarters of respondents answered, “Not really.”
According to Gallup, nursing is among the most highly regarded and trusted professions, ranking higher than military personnel, doctors and teachers.
So why aren’t nurses feeling the appreciation?
One major factor could be the overall lack of employee recognition across all industries. General respect and trust for a profession doesn’t automatically translate into concrete acts of appreciation.
A Gallup analysis found that only one in three U.S. workers “strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.”
Worse yet, “it’s not uncommon for employees to feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored,” Gallup’s Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak write.
First Step: Raise Awareness
In the fast-paced, hectic environments nurses work in — hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care, hospice — appreciation can get lost in the shuffle, or be reserved for doctors.
In his HuffPo article “Why Every Week Should Be Nurse Appreciation Week,” Brian Secemsky, M.D., writes, “Throughout history, the culture of medicine has revered the role of a physician as the core to patient care and medical recovery. Yet in my personal work experience, absolutely no care would be delivered without the critical role of a nurse.” Engaging nurses is good for everyone!
Simply raising awareness of the special job nurses have is a big part of nurse appreciation.
“Nurses are often quick to say, ‘I am just doing my job,’ and to some degree that is correct,” Mary Jo Andre, chief nursing officer at Texas Children’s Hospital tells the Houston Chronicle. “However, it is not the task of passing medications that makes their role special. Their role is special because they are in the position of being present with (and for) our patients and their families when they are experiencing their most challenging times.”
Nurse Appreciation Week continues May 6 through May 12.
Read on for nurse appreciation ideas to inspire your workplace celebration. Even if your organization doesn’t have nurses on staff, Nurse Appreciation Week is a great opportunity to engage employees in community outreach and gratitude-building!
Happy Administrative Professionals Week! Administrative Professionals Day is April 26, but many businesses celebrate all week. Be sure to thank administrative professionals in your organization; even if it’s just a personal “Thank You,” you’ll make admins feel valued and appreciated.
According to the International Association for Administrative Professionals (IAAP), there are more than 22 million administrative and office support professionals in the United States.
“Administrative Professionals Week celebrates and sheds light on administrative professionals’ devoted, valued work,” the IAAP states.
Chances are, your organization depends on the organizational help of admins to run smoothly — or run at all!
Your Administrative Professionals Week celebration doesn’t need to be fancy. Your gratitude for employees is what counts.
At Ridge Crest Elementary in Idaho this week, for example, the school’s administrative staff was honored with cake and Thank You gifts. But the school principal’s public announcement of appreciation was the most important part of the celebration.
“The school secretaries have the most important job in a school … [their] welcoming smiles communicate to parents and students that Ridge Crest is a place of love and respect. I could not ask for better help in the front office. They are the heart and soul of my school,” he said.
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!
Just like I’ll fight (nicely, of course) the other cooks at the Thanksgiving table for possession of that flavorful turkey carcass — such a great way to make stock — I do the same at Easter for the leftover ham bone.
These rainy April days are the perfect time to take that ham bone out of the freezer and put it to good use for some great tasting and heart warming comfort food.
Bean soups especially benefit from a long simmer with a leftover ham bone, whether or not there’s much meat left on it. If there is, that’s just a bonus; slice it off at the end and add it to the soup.
Allow at least two hours for each of these home cooked soups, and know that they’re just as good reheated for lunch.
Ham Bone Soup Recipes
SPLIT PEA SOUP
One of my favorite spring soups is split pea, that hearty staple, even better when it’s studded with bits of ham. Ina Garten’s recipe for split pea soup, taken from the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, is a simple and delicious way to start.
To use your ham bone in this recipe, submerge it in the soup during the last 40 minutes of cooking. Depending how much meat comes off the bone, you may be able to reuse it if you refrigerate it between uses. Salt and pepper the recipe to taste.
NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE
John Besh’s beautiful, coffee table-worthy cookbook, “My New Orleans,” is 384 engaging pages of stories, recipes and Southern inspiration.
I first made this fragrant pot of red beans and rice on Super Bowl Sunday, with the justification that the game was being played in New Orleans, and so red beans and rice were perfectly appropriate.
This simple recipe starts with the trinity (green pepper, celery, onion) and gets flavor not only from smoked ham hocks, but also from bacon fat, cayenne pepper and, of course, Louisiana-made Tabasco sauce. The red beans freeze well, too.
HAM BONE SOUP
Everything is better with bacon, and that includes Melissa Clark’s simple ham bone soup, adapted from an old Junior League cookbook. According to Clark’s piece in The New York Times, “The soup was simple: boil a bone with beans and a bay leaf, and dinner was done.” This one’s a good choice for using a slow cooker if you prefer. Add a green salad and some crusty bread and you have a wonderful meal to share and savor!
FREE Ham Cookbook
For everything to know about buying, cooking, serving and storing ham, be sure to download our FREE “Ultimate Holiday Ham Guide”. Inside you’ll also find recipes, resources and expert cooking tips for serving a juicy, delicious ham centerpiece for a special meal.
Click the image below to download your free cookbook from gThankYou now!
Joy isn’t an emotion we typically associate with the workplace — but it should be! Cultivating a joyful employee experience is the kind of investment that results in long-term engagement.
Focusing on employee experience is gaining traction as the new, more sustainable way to tackle low engagement.
“Inside of most organizations around the world, employee engagement has simply become a way to force employees to work in outdated workplace practices while giving them perks to make them happy,” author Jacob Morgan writes for Inc.
A perks-focused strategy is “a short-term adrenaline shot designed to boost the annual employee engagement scores,” but it won’t have lasting impact without a more holistic approach.
“Instead,” Morgan writes, “organizations are shifting to employee experience, which is the long-term organizational design that creates new workplace practices around people.”
Base your employee experience on building, creating and choosing joy. A joyful employee experience is key to a productive and happy workplace culture.
In a commencement speech to 4,700 students at the University of California at Berkeley last year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg brought up the practice of joy. It’s vital to resilience and overcoming failure, she said.
“In the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning,” she said. “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it … In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”