Bear Hugs and Thank You’s: Why Saying ‘Thanks’ Means So Much

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Here at MeritShare, we strive to help companies motivate their employees by offering a way to give recognition where it is earned. It has been proven that employees who receive thanks and feel that their work is being appreciated will perform better than those who do not receive recognition. This probably does not seem surprising, but I feel that there is more to the story than just a simple act of gratitude, and I would like to explore the psychology behind it.

An article by Jeremy Dean for PsychCentral discusses why giving thanks is not just a nice thing to do for others, but it is also beneficial to the self. Studies show that giving thanks can “improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives”. Personally I feel that this is very true, for I have often experienced what giving and receiving appreciation can do for the heart and mind. When I show gratitude to a friend or loved one, such as buying them flowers or simply telling them how much I love them, I love seeing the biggest smile on their face. Making others happy and making others smile is what makes me smile. It’s like a contagious disease, but a truly wonderful one that I don’t mind being spread all over.

Besides the warm fuzzy feelings it gives us, expressing gratitude can also be beneficial in that people will like you more and be more willing to help you if they believe you appreciate their help. Based on studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dean attributes this to the way receiving thanks boosts self-esteem. In one study, those who received a thank you email after providing feedback were more willing to provide further assistance to that person. What is even more intriguing is that those who received the email were more likely to help someone else out, not just the person who gave them thanks. I find this to be a crucial point that extends even beyond this topic for it is a way we can perpetuate peace and generosity throughout the world. It is clear that gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion that can significantly affect your attitude, which in turn affects others and their attitudes.

It’s kind of like that story: A man goes to work and his boss chews him out, so he goes home and takes out his frustrations on his wife, who yells at her son, who beats the dog. It might be a little extreme, but I don’t think anyone can deny that they have never once taken their anger out on someone who didn’t deserve it when they’ve been having a bad day. It happens. This is why I’m encouraging people to give thanks and practice positivity, because it spreads. If you thank someone and offer kindness, not only will they be more likely to offer it back, but will pay it forward to others. This helps everybody, not just you or one person, but everyone you both come into contact with.

Think about it, and practice giving thanks every day. Tell a coworker how much you appreciate all of the hard work they’ve been doing. Give out hugs (it releases oxytocin!). Say “thank you” to strangers who hold the door open for you. It’s not just having manners, it’s boosting self-esteem and propagating positivity to create a better future for you and for future generations. In a time where we are constantly at war while destroying each other and our earth, it is crucial that we support each other and come together, rather than pushing ourselves even further apart.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you to Kevin Nakao and Travis Pearl for this learning opportunity and for always encouraging my creative freedom. Cheers!

What Up, Soup?! The Hottest New Millennial Craze

What is a Millennial?

Some might say Millennials are driven, creative, tech-savvy, inventive, and ambitious go-getters. Others might say they are lazy, narcissistic over-consumers who have a strange obsession with taking pictures of their own reflection in the mirror. Whichever definition you agree with (or perhaps you agree with both), I think there is one thing that we can all agree on- that Millennials love soup.

Recently my dad showed me this video from The Colbert Report in which Stephen Colbert discusses the hottest new Millennial trend. No, it’s not Gangnam Style, it’s Campbell’s “Go” Soup!

Hilarity ensues:

My dad thought it was so amusing he even bought me a bag. I still haven’t tried it yet, but I will once I’m done building a few soup-inspired playlists on Spotify that I can listen to while enjoying my soup. Then I’ll be ready.

Employee Recognition: What Employees Want The Most [Infographic]

Once again research shows that what employees want the most is recognition but employers think its about pay. Let’s keep it real simple:

It’s not about the money, it’s about the appreciation.

Mindflash published a great infographic on Visual.ly to illustrate this point. Let’s get to the bottom of this infographic now:

Employee Recognition Incentives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the full picture:

Workplace Incentives

Top 5 Corporate Culture Tips

I’m a big fan of discovering and sharing new ideas at Quora.  I regularly scan discussions from company culture to the most embarrassing moment in your life.  On the question, “What motivates someone to do their best, and how can a manager best motivate his team/employees?” I really appreciate the response from Dustin Finer whose deep experience includes: COO at Myspace, former head of various corporate functions (HR/ADMIN/LEGAL/etc.) at both public and private companies, and a former employment lawyer.   Here is Dustin’s response:

I answered this based on my own experiences.  I limited this answer to strictly morale and not, for instance, how to create or foster a high performing team.  Those are two different topics I believe.  For morale, the top 5 things for me have always been:

1.  People should leave work each day and each week feeling like they accomplished something.  That means making sure you have set clear goals which are clearly communicated.  Everyone on the team should know what the daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly objectives are.  Can you imagine playing a game of basketball without understanding the rules and what the ultimate goal of the game is?  It is very important for managers to make sure their teams understand what a win is at the end of every day.  If you and your team leave work at the end of the day and feel like you achieved a goal (that hopefully feeds into the larger company goals), you tend to feel like you contributed to the greater good and feel more fulfilled.  

2.  The manager should genuinely understand his/her people.   It makes a huge difference as a leader if you know (and genuinely care) about what is going on in your employees’ lives.  I am sure more than a few people will disagree, but from a morale perspective I think it really matters if your boss knows you have to leave early to watch your kid’s game, knows when your birthday is, etc.  It helps a manager better understand what someone may be going through on a given day or week.  It also helps if your employees feel that you genuinely care about their career and them as people. 

3. Show appreciation for when an individual or a team accomplish something important.  My experience is that this means more than compensation, perks and other benefits.  It is extremely important.   [We couldn’t agree more]

4.  Always be honest and straight-forward.  B.S.’ing or sugar coating only engenders mistrust and is not helpful or effective.

5.  As a leader of a team, ultimately the way you behave will be reflected in those that you manage.  So, walk the walk, dont just talk the talk.

HR Thought Leader: Stacey Carroll

I first met Stacey Carroll at a Trakstar webinar on HR’s role in building a performance-driven organization.   I’ve attended a lot webinar’s and her’s was one of the best.  She provided an energetic and organized approach anyone could follow.  She colored each point with fun and concrete examples.  Her experience as an HR executive at Nordstroms, Payscale, and Trendwest Resorts has armed her with many insights and stories.

She is active on social media and was named by HR Examiner’s as a Top 25 Online Influencers in Talent Management.   At MeritShare we have given her our HR Thought Leader award.

In addition to this award for Stacey,  we are pleased to announce she will be offering a free webinar “Like Me! Rewards & Engagement for Employees in the Social Era” on June 13th at 1:00-2:00pm EDT.   This session is pending approval for 1.0 HRCI re-certification credit.  Save your place now and register in one click here.

The webinar will discuss:
• The effects of employee recognition and regular feedback on engagement
• They types of employees recognition that work best including more modern trends
• Tips and Tricks for effective peer-based recognition and feedback
• 3 steps for implementing a successful employee engagement plan

You’ll leave this session understanding how to update your employee performance and recognition programs to be current with today’s trends and best practices.   Come join us and hear Stayce’s insights and offer your own as well.

Thank’s to David Martin for his support and including us in his excellent Trakstar webinar series.  You can also find Stacey at her website HR Experts on Call.

 

Building a Company Culture: Live Your Values

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With the emergence of the Information Revolution and significant advancements in technology, the 21st century arrived with exciting promises of new opportunities for intellectual as well as professional growth. Unlike previous generations, the wage earners of today, many of them Millennials, are more likely to switch careers rather than stay at one job as more rewarding prospects are presented. So what, then, motivates an employee to remain with a company? What provides more satisfaction than the promise of a fatter paycheck?

Jay Wilkinson, president of Firespring, offers an answer.

In the mid 1990’s, Wilkinson launched a company that developed websites, one of the first to do it at a commercial level since the invention of the Internet. Along with a few friends, he started from the bottom and climbed his way to the top, eventually receiving money that allowed him to improve the company and expand into ten more cities around the country. Unfortunately, as tensions arose from infighting and as the economy “tanked” after 9/11, Wilkinson was removed as CEO of his own company. After years of planning and “lean[ing] very very heavy” on the people in the company, he eventually regained control of the company. Now the company has upwards of 70 employees, 3,000 customers in 12 countries, and was named one of 2011 Inc. Magazine’s top 50 Small Company Workplaces. Wilkinson attributes all of this success and the company’s redemption to the way they have built their Company Culture.

What is a Company Culture, and why is it so important to the people working a company? A culture is defined as a set of values and principles shared by members of the group. Some companies have generic values, while others seek to exercise values that coincide with the interests of their employees. People like to be involved, to be recognized, and to feel that the work they are doing is worthwhile. Just offering free coffee and snacks is not enough to make someone feel appreciated. Employees like to feel like they are part of family, all striving towards unity in a goal that benefits everyone.

At Firespring, there are 3 steps they use to “design a sustainable company culture”.

  1. Define your values- Instead of coming up with a predictable list of values, think of values that really resonate with your employees. Get them involved and see what inspires them.
  2. Hire your values- You don’t want just anybody working for your company. You want the people who are passionate about the same values because it adds to the unity of the workplace; everyone working towards one goal. It is more beneficial to a company to hire someone who shares the same mindset as the rest of the crew rather than someone who just has a lot of skills. As Wilkinson says, “Don’t hire the haters”.
  3. Live your values- “Create fellowship” among staff. Show employee and peer recognition. Offer an environment for your employees to grow, work hard, and learn while also providing a fun culture. Being serious all the time was never fun for anyone.

It is evident from Wilkinson’s presentation that Firespring has become a tight-knit community of people who love what they do and love the people they work with because of the culture they have created. They work together, learn together, and have fun together. If you are a company struggling to compete in today’s fast-paced society, it is important to remember that it’s the people, the cogs in the machine, who make a company great.

Improving Corporate Culture: Best Companies

With the recent news of employee engagement on a slight decline in North America,  it is a good time to look at who as doing company culture right. The website www.humanresourcesmba.net put together this infographic meets case study outlining the finer points of corporate culture from leaders Pixar, Patagonia, and Google.

At Pixar President Ed Catmill says in this in this video interview ”there is very high tolerance for eccentricity, very creative, and to the point where some are strange“.

Google covers things from birth to death in this quora discussion on the best Google perk.  Employee Paul Cowan says, “if a Googler dies, all their stock vests immediately, and on top of the (not atypical, I think?) life insurance payout, their surviving spouse continues to get half of the Googler’s salary for the next 10 years. And there’s an additional $1,000/month benefit for any of the Googler’s children”.

Finally, in an Inc interview with Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard says “Blurring the lines between work and play worked for us, because it was part of the core reasons we came to work every day“.

Corporate Culture Mindset
Image source: www.humanresourcesmba.net

Employee Engagement in North America Declines

According to a new study by AON, the economy in North America is improving while employee engagement levels in North America have declined to the lowest levels since 2008.  At the same time, the worldwide engagement showed modest improvement.

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Aon Hewitt’s Global Engagement Report, which analyzed employee engagement trends of more than 2,500 global organizations representing 3.8 million employees, found that employee engagement in North America decreased by one percentage point to 63 per cent in 2012.  What can employers do about this disturbing trend?  MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl shares this timely piece in today’s HR Buddy article: “5 Easy Way To Recognize Employees”.

A Millennial Mindset: Expand or Get Left Behind

Jenn Ballard, Marketing Specialist at MeritShare

Jenn Ballard, Marketing Specialist at MeritShare

This is the first post by Jenn Ballard who is a marketing specialist for MeritShare and helping the team adopt a Millennial mindset.

Now that I am nearly a quarter of a century old, I have accumulated a solid amount of work experience. Looking back at the variety of jobs I’ve held and all of the people I’ve worked with, I’m now noticing the increasing age gap in the workplace and the drama it can lead to.  The recent Forbes article by Jeanne Meister about adopting a Millennial mindset greatly resonated with me.  I was surprised to read that one third of US workers say their boss is younger than they are (according to a recent study by CareerBuilder).

In competitive work environments, where stress runs high as demands increase and employees struggle to make ends meet while desiring recognition for their hard work, it can be difficult to accept that someone younger than you is achieving more success. The injustice of it may even add fuel to the fire.

This is why the Pew Research center created a quiz to illustrate how instead of battling these Millennials, making an effort to adopt a similar mindset could actually relieve some tension as well as improve your performance and the performance of your workplace as a whole. The fact is, by 2020, Millennials will comprise nearly half of the USA workforce and, by 2030, 75% of the global workforce! The Millennials and what they accomplish will help determine our future, so it is important to understand them and work with them. Millennials move faster and think faster, constantly using social technology to connect with others and receive information. The Pew quiz suggests “building” social into your life, such as using social media like Facebook or playing social games instead of watching TV. This just amplifies your options of communication, and opens your connections to diverse groups of people. It is important to be digitally literate and connected to one another, because that is the way we invite others to be open to each other and accept people of all cultures.

Times are different now than they were then and the workforce is constantly increasing in diversity. I will be looking to those with much more experience for advice and I hope they might learn something from me. Everyone has something they can teach others, no matter how old or young they are. The workplace will always be changing and expanding; expand with it so you don’t get left behind.