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.
What happened to 2013? I cannot believe it is already November! Before we know it everyone will be hosting their holiday parties and we will be watching the ball drop and welcoming in the New Year!
As an HR Professional, I am never sure if I should be excited for or dread the company holiday party. Even if HR is not planning the party, there are still lots of things for HR and the leadership team to consider as your company prepares for the event.
The Number One Concern When Planning Company Events
One of the first questions asked about company events is always whether or not alcohol should be served. It is almost inevitable that someone at the holiday party is going to drink too much, start dancing on the tables, and get sick in the bathroom. If they remember the evening, they will be extremely embarrassed coming into work the next day and might even call out to delay having to face their colleagues. I can only hope that a little embarrassment is the worst thing that happens; but unfortunately, too often employees drink too much and create more than just embarrassing situations.
Potential Problems with Serving Alcohol at Holiday Party
Way too often alcohol at holiday parties has led to employee complaints and harassment claims. Just because it didn’t happen on work time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. It should be investigated like any other claim that is brought to your attention. There are also safety considerations. As the host, the company can be held liable for any injuries that result from intoxicated guests – that includes drunk driving.
I know what you are thinking: those stuffy HR people take the fun out of everything! I am not saying don’t serve alcohol at your company event; but if you do choose to serve it, consider some of the following ideas to help ensure a successful, fun, and safe party.
Top 10 Ways to Host a Successful Holiday Party
- Remind employees before the event that even though they are not at work, they still need to act professionally. Their boss and coworkers will remember what happened and it may impact the level of respect they get in the workplace.
- Make sure managers know the expectation and help set the example for a fun but safe environment for all party attendees.
- Provide a limited number of drink tickets to each attendee – common practice is 2 tickets.
- Have a cash bar instead of an open bar.
- Serve a full dinner, not just hor’dourves.
- Make sure the bartenders know to cut someone off if they are getting a little too “happy”.
- Have a valet who will not return the car keys to someone who looks like they have had too much to drink.
- Offer to pay for a taxi to those who need it or hold the event near public transportation.
- Provide hotel rooms encouraging people to stay the night instead of driving home (I hesitate to include this one because although you are protecting employees from driving drunk, you may be inviting them to do something that could lead to a harassment claim).
- Start the party early so it can end early.
HR should not be the party police, but the reality is any problem that occurs at the party, will most likely hit your desk the next day. Be proactive by making sure the party planners understand the potential liabilities to help protect your employees and the company. Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind as you plan your holiday party:
- Think about the message you want to send to employees. If you host a lavish party, employees may resent the fact that you are spending money on the event, but you froze their pay.
- Even though your party may be held around the holidays, I recommend calling it a “Holiday Gathering” and to have decorations that are not tied to just one religious belief. Make sure the event is one that everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, will feel comfortable attending.
- Is this an event that you want to be employee-only or can they invite significant others? What about their kids?
- Remember why you are throwing a party – it is a way to show your appreciation and to help engage your workforce. Make it an event that employees will be looking forward to and talking about.
Now that I have shared potential problems that could occur at your next holiday party and tips on how to avoid them, you should be well prepared to have a safe, fun and successful event. Wishing you a very happy holiday!
Guest Post By Kimberly Gladis of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners
Merriam-Webster defines being ‘grateful’ as: grate·ful adjective \ˈgrāt-fəl\: feeling or showing thanks : feeling or showing thanks to someone for some helpful act
Seems easy enough. Until you get to the office. A survey of 2,007 people for the John Templeton Foundation of West Conshohocken, PA, found that the workplace is the last place people express gratitude. On average, only 10% of adults thank a colleague each day, and worse than that, only 7% express gratitude to a boss daily. And 60% said they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year.”
Why is this important?
Research shows that practicing positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love (Frederickson, 2009) leads to greater positivity. As the leader, you need to think of yourself as the “Morale Compass” and gratitude is one of the best ways to increase happiness and positivity. In a study by Martin Seligman in 2012, a group of severely depressed people was asked to keep a list of three things that went well each day. After only fifteen days, these severely depressed people experienced significant gains in happiness.We have a morale crisis in the workplace and that permeates beyond the walls of the organization. How do we fix it? For starters, research tells us that individuals who practice gratitude are happier, healthier, and more resilient. With working professionals spending much of their waking hours at the office without the important benefits of gratitude, our employees are less satisfied and our companies are ultimately less productive and successful than they could be.
So how can you extrapolate the results of the gratitude work of Seligman and others and use it to increase positivity at your workplace? Here are a just a few ideas to consider:
- Thank You Notes/Emails – November is a great time for sending notes or emails to supervisors, peers, and direct reports to share thanks for their contributions. Handwritten thank you notes are significantly more impactful, but even an email can help. Make sure the message is short, personal, specific, and most importantly – sincere.
- Incorporate gratitude into weekly staff meetings – Allow the team to share one thing or person they are grateful for that week. Make it part of the regular agenda and it will become part of the culture. As the leader, lead by example and start the activity off each week.
- Gratitude Wall – If your team has a private intranet page or even a common bulletin/whiteboard, set up your own Gratitude Wall. Invite people on the team as well as across the organization to put up words of appreciation for their colleagues. Keep the ‘wall’ visible to reinforce the activity of looking for good things in each other.
If you are familiar with Helios, you know that we are infamous for the color orange. Naturally, Halloween is one our favorite holidays to celebrate. Not only because our CEO loves practical jokes and “releasing her energy” around the office by hiding under desks, behind doors, or any other unexpected places she finds fitting to shout “BOO!” to a casual passerby (not that I’ve ever been a victim to her startling scare), but because it allows us to engage our employees. Utilizing opportunities like the holidays to further engage your team can really make a BIG difference in their opinion of your employee culture.
Here are 5 tips and tricks to have a Happy ‘Helios’ Halloween:
- Dress-Up: As an HR consulting firm, I have to first advise you to over communicate what work appropriate costumes look like to your employees. If your expectations are not addressed prior to Halloween, the outcomes could be quite daunting. 123Print recently wrote a blog on work-appropriate costumes, Don’t Spook Your Co-Workers, which had some fun dress-up ideas with clear do’s and don’ts. Simple ways we incorporate the Halloween spirit into our professional attire include: finally getting to put on orange and black pieces together and funny, festive hats and/or headbands (i.e., witch hats, spider hats, cat ears, antlers, etc.).
- Decorate: From front lobby decorations, to pumpkin decorating, to door décor, the possibilities are endless!
- Demonstrate Caring: Thanks to Hallmark, it’s very easy to wave your magic wand (or, pen in this case) and demonstrate how much you care about your employees with a simple handwritten note card.
- Distribute Treats: Whether you decide on a cauldron of candy, an early afternoon off, a healthy Halloween with fresh oranges or a potluck of everyone’s favorite fall dishes, you can be creative on what would be perceived as the sweetest treat to your employees.
- Do Good: At Helios, we always try to incorporate community service into everything we do. An easy way to do this at your organization is by asking your employees to donate their leftover Halloween candy to Treats 4 Our Troops, a grassroots nonprofit that sends care packages with candy and magazines to troops who are currently deployed as well as the “Wounded Warriors” and their families who are recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Lastly, I’d be fooling you if I didn’t share that Helios is a huge champion of friendly competitions. Join us in taking the above tips and tricks to the next level by implementing a contest. Contests are a fun way to engage your team while also encouraging team building. We will be posting pictures of our pumpkin decorating contest on our social media pages tomorrow, so make sure to check back to see who won!
As we launch into a new year, my practice is to reflect on the year past and focus on the future. While no longer participating in the exercise of “making resolutions,” I do, however, identify goals. Goals that help ensure I execute on those priorities of importance to me.
I’ve lived in the Washington area my entire life. I’ve spent my entire professional career developing relationships with my colleagues, clients, my team and the community. Together we combine to form one connected ecosystem. The quality of these relationships is what drives a great degree of the success that my team and I can have in making an impact. The quality of these relationships is often a reflection of the level of commitment invested in them.
One of my goals for 2013 is to enhance the quality of these relationships that I so truly value. How that may show up for me is to ensure I’m reaching out and being intentional about connecting. One can’t delegate a relationship and expect to maintain it long. Engage them. Learn about the people in your life. What motivates them, what are their strengths, their goals, their passion? Lead the conversation. Be open to recognizing that the most important conversation in our companies, with our families and maybe even ourselves, is the one that we often are not having.
Last week I was intentional about calling people I hadn’t connected with in some time. People I admire, respect and enjoy being around. I called one or two each day on the way into the office and on the way home. As a result, I found that my own energy level and optimism soared after our reconnection. If that happened in just one week with just a few calls, I can’t even imagine what will happen after a whole year’s worth of reconnecting…but I suspect it will be incredible!
As a society, we often place great value on “networking,” yet it’s the relationships that hold value. And there is no guarantee that networking builds relationships. If we took a moment to reflect, we would agree that we’ve built a lifetime of relationships. My goal this year is to do a better job of nurturing those relationships being intentional in my outreach and my engagement. And for me, my goals are always easier to stay focused on when I “share them out loud” ensuring I hold myself accountable. It’s too easy not to execute on our intentions. Maintaining the relations I value is too important to allow that to happen.
Wishing you a new year that exceeds your expectations!