One word sums up trends in employee appreciation today: flexibility.
It goes beyond allowing flexible hours or working from home. The flexible approach to employee appreciation is agile, personalized and focused on finding common ground.
“Modern workforce management demands flexibility — a solution that can adapt easily to changing and varied needs while maintaining its core structure,” according to a recent HR Dive post by SumTotal senior product marketer Melissa Albanes.
Transparency is driving the trend of the flexible workplace and flexible employee appreciation.
“In an era of Glassdoor-driven transparency, every corporate decision can now be put on public display for all employees and potential employees to view and consider,” writes senior staff writer Sharon Florentine for CIO.
“This kind of exposure is pushing organizational culture and employee engagement into the spotlight and making engagement a major competitive advantage, according to a recent Bersin report by Deloitte, ‘Culture and engagement: the naked organization,'” she writes.
Flexibility is what employees want and have come to expect. It helps them do their work better by accommodating their personal needs, while also building company loyalty and job motivation.
Read on for what this new focus on flexibility means for employee appreciation in your workplace, from daily recognition to workplace gift-giving.
Building Employee Trust Through Flexibility
Flex hours are all the buzz now, but why? Letting people work when they’re at their most focused — early mornings before the phones start ringing or late night after the kids go to bed, for instance — is an obvious way to boost productivity and employee happiness. It’s a great perk to offer.
But the real reason to promote flexibility goes a little deeper.
Flexibility builds trust, according to a PS News guest post by Brennan McEachran, CEO and co-founder of Soap Box HQ.
“Knowing employees and colleagues are committed to results and to following through on those commitments is not only a major contributor to being a great place to work, it also opens up the door to so much more,” McEachran writes.
A Deloitte employee-opinion survey showed a strong belief in the organizational benefits of trust, including improved:
- morale (55 percent)
- team-building and collaboration (39 percent)
- productivity and profitability (36 percent)
- ethical decision-making (35 percent)
- willingness to stay with the organization (32 percent)
Trust grows from flexibility, but the real trust-builder is the employee-manager communication that is the precursor. Open a dialogue with employees about what would help them do their work better or more efficiently — and then make decisions about flexibility based on the outcome of these conversations.
“Communication helps employees feel supported and in control,” according to Office Snapshots.
And employees who feel supported and in control not only have trust in their leadership, they feel appreciated.
Being Flexible Means Being Responsive
Indeed, communication is the key to culturally embedded workplace flexibility and results-oriented employee appreciation.
Big data and the emergence of tech in HR make it all the easier to gauge employee engagement. However, it’s what leaders do with this information that demonstrates employee appreciation.
Appirio‘s Ellen Humphrey tells Talkin’ Cloud that while compensation and benefits remain important, what workers really value above all else is “emotional safety at work.”
Workers really “value a culture of appreciation, really value managers who take an interest in them, who act as their advocate and value that more so than what companies may have traditionally thought was important such as comp and benefits,” Humphrey says.
This kind of manager-employee relationship takes a level of flexibility that may seem new or uncomfortable to many leaders. That’s why, according to Humphrey, it’s important for managers to have the tools, training and time they need to become more flexible and communicative with their reports.
There is such as thing as bad flexibility — beware of what Limeade calls “flexibility guilt.”
“It comes down to a lack of clarity and cultural expectations. When organizations don’t create specific policies, employees struggle to understand their boundaries, leading to uneasiness,” according to Limeade.
Flexibility guilt is “the stress you might feel when you’re running a few minutes late, even though your start time is ‘flexible.’ Or when you miss a phone call during normal business hours because you decided to take a quick break. Or when you have to leave early because your son gets sick.”
That’s not true flexibility. Limeade cites a study in which half of the participants were assigned to a control group that was only given flexibility based on their managers’ discretion. The other half became part of an experimental group to pilot a new initiative of “true flexibility.” They had their manager’s full support to work wherever and whenever they wanted, as long as they met all their goals and deadlines.
The group with “true flexibility” started sleeping better, experienced less stress and felt much happier than the control group whose flexibility was at the manager’s discretion. Even better, the “true flexibility” group met their goals just as much as the control group!
The study shows that “connecting options for work-life flexibility to performance” can help companies develop more efficient flexibility, relieve guilt and convey true employee appreciation.
Flexible Gift-Giving: Employee Appreciation Gifts That Are Meaningful And Convenient
When it comes to rewards and recognition, flexibility enhances employee gifts. Some traditional workplace gifts tend to be impersonal, such as the company logo mug or the cash bonus that’s flashy but doesn’t have lasting impact. These gifts may be appreciated in the short-term but they don’t convey a meaningful message — and are therefore quickly forgotten, diminishing their impact on engagement.
Flexibility in workplace gift-giving allows managers to
- personalize based on what they know their team will appreciate
- share gifts that allow the recipient a degree of flexibility, such as gift certificates or gift cards
- share gifts that are meaningful beyond face value (ie., have cultural or personal significance)
- send a clear “Thank You” message
When leaders are committed to a culture of flexibility and communication, the most important part of workplace gift-giving — gratitude — will come more easily to them!
Nothing Says ‘Thank You’ at the Holidays Like the Gift of a Turkey
Looking for a flexible employee holiday gift that also honors a generations-old workplace tradition? Give a turkey!
The gift of a turkey is the perfect employee holiday gift — meaningful, affordable and appreciated. And gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates make it flexible for you and your recipients, no matter how big or how spread-out your organization is. Sharing the centerpiece to the Thanksgiving meal lets your employees know you really care. A turkey gift carries the symbolism of holiday gratitude and family togetherness.
It’s also a practical gift your employees will be able to share with their family and friends. They have the flexibility to choose the turkey they want, at the store they want, when they want it.
Download gThankYou’s new brochure “10 Reasons to Give Employees a Turkey for the Holidays” to learn why so many businesses share a Thanksgiving turkey with employees.
About gThankYou, LLC
Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S.
gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.
gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-609-2234.
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