Water Fights, Karaoke and Scrapbooks – 6 ways to make employees feel special on a budget.

Sunset High Five

Photo Courtesy of johnwiechecki on Flickr

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou, Author

Making others feel good is not just a nice thing to do, but it makes you feel good too. Showing your employees and coworkers that you appreciate them inspires motivation and improves morale and productivity within a company. Giving worthwhile recognition is not dependent on the amount of money you spend, recognition is about sincerely appreciating the hard work others do and really meaning it when you say “thank you”. You can’t put a price on memories.

Here are a few Low Cost Recognition Ideas, as well as a Recognition Playlist to get you inspired and spreading the love.

1.  Greet employees every morning, reinforcing the message “I’m glad you’re here.”  It may sound corny, but that’s okay – your job isn’t to win popularity contests, its to make your employees and coworkers feel special.

2. Organize a department-wide water-gun fight in the parking lot in their honor. It’s unusual, it’s fun, employees will remember it for a long time.  Super soakers for employees, tiny water guns for managers – think about it.

3. Let them park in your parking space for a week.  Often times, it’s the little things that make people feel special.  Don’t have a parking space? Buy them a weekly pass at a nearby garage.

4. Put together a scrapbook of memories for an employee who is celebrating a milestone anniversary. Give each person on the team a blank page to fill out with stories or pictures of their experiences with that employee. Then, after the public recognition moment, the individual has not only a treasured award from the company but something from their coworkers that captures their feelings.

5. Create a homemade fun award that is appropriate to what is being recognized. MeritShare provides a fun way to give out virtual awards to your employees and peers that can be humorous yet meaningful.  Customize an award to your company culture, make it fun for people to give and receive!

6. Gather co-workers to sing a light-hearted rendition of a song such as “You Light Up My Life,” “We Are the Champions,” etc.  We put together an employee recognition playlist for you.  If you do this, be sure to record it and put it on Youtube – then send us the link.  Seriously. 

Recognition Playlist:

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

bearhug

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!

How To Motivate: The Research Behind Recognition

What motivates us?

In his popular TED Talk (see the full video below) behavioral economist Dan Ariely recently discussed not only why we work, but what kind of behavior and environments increase productivity and help people thrive in the workplace.

Ariely points out that there are examples all around us that show people are motivated by things beyond a paycheck, crossing a finish line or meeting a goal:

  • Mountain climbers face enormous challenges and setbacks on the way to climbing to the top of the mountain.
  • An employee worked on a project day and night for over 2 weeks when it was cancelled the day before the due date, leaving the worker, who said he felt quite happy while working on the project, feeling depressed when he realized that no one would see his work.

We want to receive recognition for the “fruits of our labor”, says Ariely, and know that our work has meaning. He conducted two experiments to explore this notion.

In a study using Legos, two groups of people were paid to build multiple Lego kits. In one group, the completed pieces would be disassembled at the end of the experiment; in the second, each person saw their first creation taken apart as they built a second.

Outside observers predicted that the first group – where their work had been acknowledged – would build more Lego kits, but thought the difference would be negligible.

  • In fact, the group whose work was valued showed over 63% more productivity compared to the group whose work was disregarded.

This dynamic is at play in the working world. At one company, 200 workers spent two years working on a project that was suddenly shut down. The employees reported feeling depressed and unmotivated and their behavior at work changed. They started:

  • Showing up for work later
  • Leaving work earlier
  • Possibly ‘fudging’ expense report items

When asked what could have made them feel that their work efforts were not wasted and drive employee engagement, they suggested:

  • Internal presentation of the project to the company
  • Analyze what aspects of their project could be incorporated into other aspects of the company

In  Ariely’s “Shredder” experiment, people were asked to complete a written puzzle, and then each paper was placed in one of three groups, where 1) someone looked at it quickly, uttered a quick “Uh-huh” and put it on a pile; 2) no one looked at the paper and it went into in a pile; or 3) the papers went directly into a shredder.

There’s good news and bad news coming out of this “Shredder” study:

  • Ignoring people’s  performance is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of them, but
  • Minimal recognition can dramatically improve a worker’s motivation

The act of recognition provides acknowledgement and is the best source of motivation .  You don’t have to sit around and wait for this to happen, you can kick start a culture of recognition by starting with a simple thanks to a co-worker.

[ted id=1706]

 

Make Work Better: Hire Millennials [Infographic]

As the baby boomers to hit retirement age, they will be replaced by “Generation Y” or “Millennials,” who number almost 80 million.  This talented and diverse group of employees  want to learn and grow with their company.  Millennials are motivated by having a sense of accomplishment.   As this infographic shows, 80% of Millennials prefer on the on the spot recognition and real-time feedback.  You can now go online and instantly thank a co-worker with the new way to give kudos.  Millennials are tech-savvy social media enthusiasts.  You don’t have to friend them on Facebook or follow on Twitter, but at the minimum, connect with them on Linkedin and build out your own professional network of fresh talent.

geny-in-the-workplace-infographic-mba-at-unc

 Infographic by UNC

Related Post and Infographic: Millennials are super-savers

8 Tips to Thank a Colleague from the University of Arizona

University of Arizona LogoToday’s post brings some great tips from the University of Arizona’s Human Resources department on ideas for recognizing and appreciating your coworkers.

You can go visit the full post on their site, here are our favorites pulled from the list:

 

  1. Include “kudos” as an agenda item in staff meetings. Being consistent around recognition makes it a habit and will increase the frequency of recognition among your employees over time.
  2. Add a recognition “Thank You” board to the office. It can be a bulletin board in lunch room, a white board in the lobby or, for the techies, a big screen TV in a common area that shows coworker recognition posted on a wiki or shared page provided by IT.
  3. Ask your colleague’s opinion or ideas on a project or help with a new process. Asking for advice/expertise is a more subtle form of recognition; advice says “You’ve shown to be an expert in this subject, I’d be honored to have your opinion on this” and can go a long way to making your coworkers feel appreciated.
  4. Create a picture poster of a recent team or group win as a way to reinforce team accomplishments.
  5. Wash a coworker’s car in the parking lot at lunch (year-round in Arizona, seasonal in Seattle)
  6. Write several ‘thank you’ post it notes and decorate a coworker’s cube or a team’s work space
  7. Make a personal or team gift to the coworker’s favorite charity – this can be a very personal gesture for those who align themselves closely with a non-profit or charitable organization.
  8. Thank coworkers who thank others – teamwork is about mutual respect and appreciation and do your best to encourage and foster that in your coworkers as well.

Check out the full list over at the University of Arizona Human Resources website and get out there and thank some colleagues!  If you’re looking for an easy way to thank your colleagues online, give MeritShare a try – we make peer recognition simple, fun and social and help you create a community of positive peer recognition inside your organization.