Did you know that National Employee Appreciation Day is the first Friday of March every year? That is tomorrow, March 7th! Don’t worry, it’s not too late to celebrate. Check out my tips below for some last minute ideas on how to show your employees you appreciate them.
- Grab a couple bottles of wine and cheese platters from your local grocery store to treat your team to a relaxing glass of wine and snack at the end of the day.
- Order lunch for everyone to enjoy together.
- Write personalized letters or thank you cards to your employees to show your appreciation. This seems like a small gesture, but even a little note to let your employee know you appreciate them will brighten up their day.
- Let everyone leave an hour or two early since it is on a Friday.
- Take your employees out to happy hour and for an extra bonus, let everyone leave an hour early to spend more time together at happy hour.
- Give out gift cards, even if it’s just a $5.00 gift card to Starbuck’s this is an easy way to show you value them as an employee. You could even hand out the gift cards in the beginning of the day and schedule a group trip to the closest Starbucks as a nice afternoon break for everyone.
- Who doesn’t love a sugar rush? Order cupcakes for your team as an afternoon pick me up.
- Schedule a morning meeting where you personally recognize each employee for their contributions and give other employees an opportunity to chime in with their positive remarks.
- Stop by your local coffee shop on your way into work and bring coffee and treats for everyone in the office.
- Use 8×11 cardboard papers and hang up a piece of paper for each employee with their name on it in your company conference room. Then ask each employee to write one thing they appreciate about that employee. This is a fun activity that everyone can be involved in and makes for great office décor.
National Employee Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to illustrate to your employees how important they are to you and your organization. Any of these tips would be a great way to show your employees how much you value their hard work. You could also combine a couple of the tips depending on your budget. Tips 3, 8, and 10 don’t cost anything but your time and can make all the difference.
While the fall and winter months are jam-packed with holidays people often forget about all of the fun holidays in the spring. Between Valentine’s Day and Easter, there is so much you can do for your employees without spending a great deal of money. No matter the size of your office, it’s always nice to do something for the people you work with and it only takes a few minutes to show you’re thinking of them.
Below are a few ideas I’ve come up with for the holidays:
1. Valentine’s Day – What a perfect time to tell the people you work with how much you like them! An easy and cost-effective way to share this appreciation is playing a little game called, “What I Like About You”. Cut out giant hearts with colorful paper and write each person’s name on one. Then the next time you are all together, pass the hearts around and ask everyone to write what they like about that person on the person’s heart. Not only will these make your employees stop and appreciate what their co-workers do for each other, but what a nice reminder for them as well to hear all the things that are noticed about them!
2. St. Patrick’s Day – This holiday always reminds me of being a little kid and my teacher decorating the classroom while we were out at recess. But while the idea of decorating your office with confetti and treats sounds like a good idea, I am not sure everyone will be a fan. Instead, plan a “Pot of Luck” event where every employee has to make or bake something green to eat! The dish itself doesn’t need to be all green but the creative ways to incorporate the color green in the final product is what counts. Give out a few prizes for categories such as “most creative”, “most green”, and “most delicious”.
3. Easter – Candy, bunnies, and eggs, oh my! This holiday is always so much fun with the pastel colors and baskets of treats. Grab some plastic eggs and fill them with different prizes and treats. This could range from a gift card to a food place nearby, candy, or even cash. Keep it under $10 and let each employee pick an egg. Whatever is inside is theirs to keep! My suggestion would be to only have a few eggs with the gift cards and money to keep costs at a minimum but the excitement of anticipating what’s inside is the best part.
These are just a few of my own and I would love to hear how you engage your employees during the holidays! Remember, it’s not the quantity of the gift but the quality. Employees don’t need fancy gifts and “hot” items to have a remarkable experience at work – all they need is an environment where they feel engaged and thought of.
Furloughs, Holiday Pay, and Weather Closures: Legal Guidelines and Best Practices for Winter HR Woes
Remember when a snow day meant no school and neighborhood snowball fights? The challenges of navigating winter weather closures can be far more difficult when you’re running a company. What if your company closes for a week between Christmas and New Year’s; are you required to pay employees? The following guidelines should help you determine your legal obligations for these common winter payroll issues.
If your company closes at the discretion of management due to inclement weather, your payroll obligations will differ between exempt and non-exempt employees.
- Exempt Employees: According to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), an exempt employee must be paid for the full week if any work is performed during that week. This is known as the salary basis. If an exempt employee works Monday-Thursday but is unable to work on Friday because the business closes due to inclement weather, you would be required to pay them for the full week. As an employer, the best strategy to avoid payroll liability and ensure a productive workforce is to remind employees of anticipated winter weather and encourage them to prepare for remote work whenever possible. Employers may also wonder if they can require employees to use PTO. Generally speaking, the FLSA permits this practice. The best approach is to notify employees in advance and be consistent and reasonable for exempt and non-exempt employees. For example, you can send an email at the beginning of the winter season clarifying that employees will be required to apply paid leave to any weather closures if they are unable to work remotely.
- Non-Exempt Employees: For non-exempt employees, an employer must review state laws closely to determine if reporting or “show up” pay is due. Federal law is silent on the issue of reporting pay but several states (California, Connecticut, DC, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island) have laws requiring this kind of compensation. Let’s imagine that a non-exempt employee in California reports for an 8 hour shift at 8 AM, but is subsequently sent home by management at 10 AM when it starts to snow. The employee must be compensated for 4 hours of pay, half of what they could have expected to earn. Laws regarding the amount of reporting pay due vary state to state and some states have different laws governing pay for minors so employers should consult with an HR professional to make the correct determination for their operations. If a non-exempt employee performs no work at all, the employer is not obligated to pay them.
Closed for the Holidays
If your company shuts down during the holiday season, it’s important to think about how the furlough will affect the salary basis for your exempt employees. As discussed earlier, federal regulations require that an exempt employee receive a full week of pay for any week during which they perform work. Therefore, an unpaid furlough spanning an entire work week would be legal whereas an unpaid furlough from Wednesday to the following Wednesday would threaten the salary basis and exemption status for exempt employees. As discussed earlier, non-exempt employees do not need to be paid during the furlough unless they perform work; and you can require both exempt and non-exempt employees to apply PTO. In summary, here is a list of best practices to follow in planning for furloughs:
- Provide advance notice of the dates and any requirements to use PTO
- Ensure that unpaid furloughs line up with your normal work week (remember that the FLSA allows employers to establish their own work weeks as long as it’s consistent.)
- Emphasize to exempt and non-exempt employees that no work should be performed during the furlough
Paid Holidays and Holiday Double Time
Contrary to popular belief, employees are not entitled to paid holidays nor are they entitled to special rates of pay for performing work on a holiday. These practices have developed according to common custom and many employees mistakenly believe paid holidays or double time on holidays are legal entitlements. The best way to approach this issue is to communicate with employees clearly regarding expectations and business operations. If you operate a restaurant that serves meals during all major holidays, the corresponding scheduling requirements should be communicated to perspective employees during the hiring process. You should also be consistent in whatever decisions you make. Paid holidays are typically communicated in writing and any supplemental pay for working on holidays should be given at the same rate to all employees.
Figuring out the legally or ethically correct way to handle these issues can be challenging as it involves the interplay between regulations, expectations, and company policy. It’s also important to note that these guidelines assume your employees are already classified correctly as exempt or non-exempt. If you have any questions regarding these issues, feel free to call the HR experts at Helios.
It’s that time of year again where every holiday imaginable hits at the same time, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Day. Oh and let’s not forget about Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Despite the holiday season, business must move forward and there is still a need to recruit for quality candidates. However, as the employer you may face problems and/or challenges in your recruitment efforts during the holiday season. Let’s take a little time to address a few of these recruitment problems and challenges.
The first problem may come when sourcing for candidates. Unfortunately, during this time of year the level of qualified resumes may not be readily available or you may see the same resumes on the job boards you are utilizing such as Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, and/or Indeed. During this time of year, candidates are enjoying the holiday season and the time off with their families and friends and are not applying for open positions.
While applicants are making their family and friends a priority for the holiday season, they are also aware holidays can be a slow time of year for organizations. During the holidays, companies are closed and staff is on vacation and this can be a deterrent for the number of resumes and applications received.
As the hiring manager, you may find a challenge during the interview phase of the recruitment process. Vacations are scheduled throughout the holidays and at times can pose a bit of a challenge. Many times candidates have prescheduled vacations or your interviewer(s) are on vacation delaying both the interview process as well as the final start date.
As a Recruiter, I recommend anticipating the needs of your open positions. Consider building a pipeline of qualified candidates prior to the holiday season by sourcing for resumes and reaching out to candidates. Upon reaching out to the candidates, be transparent with them about the hiring process and provide them with a tentative timeline of events. Lastly, attempt to keep your candidates “warm,” connecting via the telephone or by email during the holidays. Although you may face challenges, do not stop your recruitments. Continue moving forward as you may find a quality candidate when you least expect it.
Thank your employees, or coworkers, 365 days a year. It seems like a simple thing to do. Find something – anything – one of your direct reports or coworkers has does well on the job and compliment them about it. After informally polling a random sampling of friends, coworkers and family members, I was not surprised to find the vast majority of people answered affirmatively that they do not do this. The most common response back to my informal poll was “I don’t compliment my coworkers 365 days a year, but I try to do this as often as possible.” While this is a good start, and with the impending holiday season is upon us, it got me thinking: how can we all thank the people we work for, and with, every single day of the year?
Below are some guidelines and suggestions you can use in your daily interactions to give thanks:
- Be genuine in your communication. There is nothing worse than receiving a compliment that you know or believe to be disingenuous. Put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes and tell them why you are thankful for their efforts. Be concise, yet specific enough so they understand the situation you are thanking them for.
- Find the right medium for communicating your message. There are various ways to communicate your message. You can do it in person, over the phone, thank you note, a token of appreciation (small gift), etc. Deciding the correct medium can be just as important as what you give to the person who is receiving the thank you.
- Find unique ways to thank people. There are plenty of ways to tell an associate how much their contributions have meant to the organization. Finding a unique way to tell a person how much their contribution has meant to the organization, and to you personally, will help that person understand the overall impact their contribution has had.
- You don’t have to show your appreciation with a monetary contribution. There are a variety of ways to show your appreciation to your colleagues beyond a cash incentive. You can do this by supporting their favorite community outreach program, cheering at a sporting event they participate in, providing a handwritten thank you note, giving kudos during a team meeting, giving your direct reports an extra vacation or PTO day, or a thank you video. Here is a link to an additional set of non-monetary ways of thanking your coworkers or direct reports.
As we just discussed, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to thank your coworkers. There are plenty of times throughout the day, week, month and year when we all receive less than positive feedback from our customers, suppliers, etc. Instead of celebrating, or giving thanks once a year or as often as possible, try telling your coworkers how much their efforts mean on a daily basis. That thanks, or showing of appreciation, can be the impetus your colleagues need to continue their efforts – big or small – to better the organization.