Employee Appreciation

Showing appreciation to your employees doesn’t have to be a big ordeal or a huge production.  In fact, a little can go a long way.  People inherently want to know they’re doing a good job, so if one of your employees has done a great job – let them know.

Administrative Professionals’ Week is fast approaching (April 19th to 25th, 2015). This week, and specifically Administrative Professionals’ Day on Wednesday April 22nd, recognizes the work of administrative assistants, receptionists, secretaries and other administrative support professionals.  There are approximately 475, 000 administrative assistants in Canada, and this week is a great time to recognize their efforts.  In fact, not doing so would be a mistake.

Typically, administrative professionals are bestowed with cards, gift certificates, flowers, gift baskets or lunches.  It’s a tradition that goes back to 1952 and has been adopted worldwide.

Last month marked Employee Appreciation Day (March 6th). However, showing your employees appreciation shouldn’t be reserved for one day a year or over the course of a given week: it should be frequent.

In her article ‘10 Ways to Show Appreciation to Employees’, Susan M. Heathfield encourages telling colleagues, coworkers and employees that you value their contributions any day of the year.   Her suggestions include saying thank you and praising their achievement, bringing in treats to the office or, if your budget allows it, small gifts or monetary rewards.  Heathfield points out that employee appreciation, through recognition, increases motivation and creates a positive, more productive workplace.

The next time someone does a great job at work, don’t hesitate to send them a quick email saying “Thank you.  You did a fantastic job”.  I guarantee it will make them feel appreciated.

What does an Engaging Workplace look like? 10 Ideas for Work Leaders!

Have you ever wondered if your employees like coming to work? If you answered yes, how do you know? Think of the following situation: It is 5:00 pm, and most of the department is on the way out the door. However, one team is still there working hard and having fun at the same time. What can you, as a leader, do to create this kind of environment for your employees? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Don’t micro-manage. You don’t need to be breathing down your employees’ neck. Show them interest, encourage them to think differently and ask them how they made a decision to understand their thinking.
  2. Give back credit. Promote your team’s work. Make sure they get the credit for their accomplishments. Say thank you publicly.
  3. Minimize bureaucracy and promote simplicity. As long as your team is producing and working on the right things, don’t bother them with unnecessary steps or details.
  4. Be open to feedback and mean it. Ask a few trusted team members to be candid with you when you’ve done something thoughtless or insensitive.
  5. Know them personally. Learn about their families, their career goals and truly care about them. Ask them how they would like to be recognized. Show the employee that you care not only about work but about their life as well.
  6. Create meaningful work with purpose. The most important thing any leader can do is to link the work to the strategic imperatives of the company. That is the work your employees do is important to the success of your company. When an employee feels he or she is making a difference, it makes a big difference.
  7. Hire Top Performers and get rid of the bottom performer. It is well known that leaders typically spend more time managing their under-performing employees than focusing on their top performers. In hiring A players, the standards are raised, the energy is high and there is a low tolerance for mediocrity.
  8. Lead by example. Simple as it seems to be, we all have our blind spots and need to be aware of them. Acting with integrity is key.
  9. Encourage socialization at work. Something as simple as ordering pizza for lunch or having a popcorn break on Friday afternoons can help to build camaraderie during working hours and doesn’t intrude on employees’ personal time.
  10. Pay People for their Worth. Although it is last on the list, pay is still a great motivator (maybe a great equalizer versus motivator; this is a minimum requirement, but once it’s met, the other factors above come into play, like Maslow’s hierarchy). Your team may love what they do but if they feel underpaid, it may affect their long-term commitment.

6 Steps to Help with Work Life Balance

What does work-life balance actually mean? How do you know if you have a good work/life balance? And what can you do to achieve or maintain it?

My search began at http://www.wikipedia.org/. They define work-life balance as “a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” and “lifestyle”. It goes on to say that the expression was invented in the mid 1800’s. Anthropologists said happiness occurs when there’s as little separation as possible “between your work and your play”. Here we are in the 21st century and we’re still trying to figure out that balance.

The proliferation of technology has not helped matters. Laptops, smartphones and the internet have, for the most part, removed office walls and allowed us more freedom to work but also raised the expectation of when and how much we work. This can translate into a higher rate of stress among workers, less job satisfaction, more sick days and lost productivity.

To see what my work-life balance equation looked like, I took the “work-life balance quiz” on the Canadian Mental Health Association website. My results surprised me! You can try the quiz too at www.cmha.ca/mental_health/work-life-balance-quiz

The results from the quiz prompted me to brainstorm a few ideas to see where I could make some improvements. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Build downtime into my schedule. By this I mean, go for walks regularly, read a trashy novel, take a hot bath, listen to music or paint.
  • Get moving! We all know exercise has tremendous health benefits, including reducing stress. Maybe a colleague would like to start a morning or after work walking or running routine.
  • Avoid activities that zap my time. This includes surfing the net, checking Facebook or watching TV shows that I’m really not that interested in.
  • Say “no” more often. This involves setting personal boundaries and sticking to them.
  • Ask my employer what work options are available. Does my company offer flextime, part time or the ability to work from home?

And, here’s the big one,

  • Leave work at work. Commit to turning off the devices after I leave for the day. Maybe not every day but certainly some days.