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#WorkTrends: The Power of Workplace Gratitude with Liz King

How do we best show workplace gratitude? How do we help employees and coworkers feel valued and appreciated?

There’s no doubt: In 2020, the world seems pretty serious. All around me here in Oregon, and up and down the west coast, we’re dealing with unprecedented firestorms. A series of tropical storms seems ready to hit the southeastern US. And we’re all still grappling with a pandemic that has dramatically changed the workplace. With all this going on, many of us seek solace. We covet a moment of relaxation. And for the many of us working solo at home, we crave human connection.

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So there’s no better time to be deliberately human. To reach out to a friend to say hello. Or, perhaps to make an employee or coworker smile by just saying thank you. But how do we show gratitude in a meaningful way while we’re socially distancing?

Liz King on Workplace Gratitude

To answer that question, and because I truly believe sharing gratitude with employees and peers may be the special sauce of workplace culture and engagement, I asked Liz King, CMO of gThankYou, to join me on this week’s #WorkTrends podcast. We talked about the real science behind gratitude, and how it can transform any workplace — whether co-located, remote, or both. Of course, the holidays are coming. So we also took a look at great ideas on how to use gratitude to make everyone smile, even if we can’t be together.

In the first few moments with Liz, I confirmed how important it is to create a culture of workplace gratitude. “Because of what we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic — increased worker stress, loneliness, anxiety, the pressure of juggling family and work commitments — it is so important employers are there to help employees take on these new world challenges through sincere gestures of kindness and appreciation,” Liz said. She emphasized that while one-time expressions of gratitude are meaningful, consistency is important. “Building a culture of gratitude needs to come from the top down. Ultimately, it must be part of the fabric of a workplace culture. You just can’t say a one and done thank you and think you’ve done enough.”

Appreciation is Personal

When talking about that human connection, Liz shared another great piece of advice: “We are so short on personal engagement right now. If you can, pick up the phone. Check in on your employees. People need to know they’re valued and not alone.” Liz smartly added: “Don’t forget a heartfelt, personal thank you note always makes somebody’s day.”

Since Liz and gThankYou are experts at showing gratitude to employees and coworkers, I couldn’t let Liz get away without about the best way to show sincere gratitude nowand for the upcoming holidays: “To help show appreciation year-round, we have a day-to-day employee celebration calendar full of actionable appreciation and engagement ideas. Of course, we started our business in 2007 based on the tradition of giving a turkey to employees for Thanksgiving. We then started creating certificates of gratitude for practical employee and customer food gifts. Not just a Thanksgiving turkey, but a Christmas ham and  fruit and vegetables, ice cream, and groceries anytime.”

Walking the Thankful Talk

During our conversation, it became clear Liz, her husband Rick, and their entire team walk the thankful talk: “We are incredibly grateful to work with companies who care about appreciating employees. It is such a joy to get them on the phone! They’re excited to order again, every year. And they talk about why showing gratitude is so important to them — just as it is to us.”

I’m grateful gThankYou sponsored this meaningful episode of #WorkTrends℠. I really appreciate their simple, flexible approach to helping brands show they care about their employees. I can’t thank them enough.

Be sure to listen in… then go say thank you to someone making a difference in your life!

And please join us on Wednesday, September 23rd at 1:30pm ET with a special Twitter chat featuring Liz King. Here are the questions we’ll be asking:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with expressing gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q2: What strategies can promote a culture of gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q3: How can leaders show gratitude over the holidays?  #WorkTrends

 

Find Liz on Linkedin and Twitter. Also check out gThankYou on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Photo: Pixabay

5 Ways COVID-19 Will Continue to Change HR

Many companies and job titles will go through drastic changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The HR sector and the people working in it will undoubtedly experience some of them. Here are five things people can anticipate regarding HR after COVID-19 — as well as during it:

1. Companies Will Show Employee Appreciation Differently

Even while people love working from home, many find it difficult to get through their days without the fist bumps, handshakes and pats on the back that often accompanied their most productive, successful days in offices. These changes mean HR departments may need to find alternative ways to thank employees for their hard work. 

Hani Goldstein is the co-founder and CEO of Snappy Gifts, a company specializing in employee recognition products. She noted, “Working from home can be an isolating and disorienting experience for most of today’s workforce who are used to seeing their peers every day at the office.”

It’s also more challenging for employees to strike that all-important work-life balance. “Hours that were once dedicated to fun activities have been replaced with more work and increased responsibilities,” Goldstein explained. These things mean employers need to show their gratitude differently. Whether that means having team appreciation parties over virtual platforms or sending workers online gift cards, HR representatives must figure out safe, effective ways to express thanks. 

2. Remote Hiring and Recruitment Practices Will Gain Momentum

Some analysts predicted remote methods would change hiring and recruitment methods long before COVID-19 impacted the world. They were right to some extent, especially as HR professionals realized doing things remotely cut out potential hassles like travel arrangements. Remote platforms let companies extend their hiring and recruitment reach instead of only looking for candidates in the immediate area. 

HR after COVID-19 will likely prominently feature remote platforms and approaches. Suppose a human resources professional or recruitment expert can gauge a person’s candidacy for a role via a teleconferencing platform. That method saves time compared to bringing a person into the office. 

Some remote interviews are for work-at-home jobs. However, if a person gets hired for a position at a physical location, companies may require that the new hire tests negative for the novel coronavirus before arriving. 

3. Contracts Will Include COVID-19-Related Specifications More Often

As professionals navigate this new normal and ponder what it means for the future of HR, they should consider how the pandemic might impact their employment contracts. For example, a company might remove a line that guarantees the worker a certain number of hours per week to work, especially if the industry will experience the effects of the pandemic for the foreseeable future. 

One emerging trend — especially seen in the construction sector — concerns the addition of force majeure clauses related to the pandemic in contracts. Those cover the natural and unavoidable disasters preventing a party from fulfilling a contract’s terms. However, it is not sufficient for that entity to claim it was inconvenient to meet the contract’s terms. Courts look at several variables, including whether the conditions made working impossible.

Contracts may also state that workers must report their COVID-19 risk or agree to get screened. Drug screenings are already commonplace, and the same could become true for coronavirus tests. Legal experts and HR representatives are still working out the specifics of contracts in light of the global health crisis. However, people should expect to see some noticeable changes in contractual language soon. 

4. HR Representatives May Need to Reserve More Time for Training

The pandemic forced workplaces to adjust rapidly to new procedures to keep people safe. Cleaning happens more thoroughly and frequently, and many companies reduce or eliminate the time employees spend in close quarters. Customer-facing businesses also must adopt new procedures for keeping guests safe. 

Human resources professionals regularly schedule training sessions. However, they may need to do that more often or for larger workforce segments due to COVID-19. Some businesses invested in robots to help workers or wearable gadgets to ensure that people stay far enough apart while on the job. It could take a while for some workers to adjust to those things, although dedicated training efforts could help. 

If all or most of a workforce shifts to remote working, HR representatives may deem it necessary to plan training sessions that spell out safe practices online and give people tips for staying productive. Many employees now have to work in ways they hadn’t imagined. HR professionals cannot remove all the obstacles, but taking the time to educate the workers about what’s new could relieve the stresses they feel. 

5. Businesses Will Adjust Their Time-Off Policies According to Government Guidance

The need to isolate confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases poses challenges for HR professionals who may already face workplace shortages for other reasons. However, following government guidance on that matter remains crucial. Workplace leaders must also stay abreast of recent changes.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated the guidance about workers caring for themselves at home after symptom onset. The most recent recommendation is that people can come back to work if at least 10 days pass since symptoms began and they stay fever-free for at least 24 hours after their body temperatures initially return to normal without medication. Their non-fever symptoms must also improve. 

The CDC previously set the fever-resolution component of that three-prong test at 72 hours, so the change represents a significant reduction. These specifics mean companies may begin implementing time-off periods that people can use specifically for reasons connected to the virus. Doing that keeps people safer by minimizing the likelihood that they feel tempted to work while feeling unwell. 

The Evolving Future of HR

No one knows the pandemic’s time frame, so it’s impossible to say for sure how things will change. However, the five things mentioned here are solid predictions, especially since some workplaces have already adopted the changes.

Copernicus Was Wrong

Copernicus said the earth revolves around the sun. Copernicus was only partially correct.

The earth does not always revolve around the sun. In some workplaces, the earth revolves around an employee. Yes, I can tell that each of you is thinking of a particular employee. Let’s hope no one is thinking of you!

Seriously, how do you deal with the employee who is the sun for the workplace’s earth? Let’s be clear that we need to be careful with the words that we use.  The most common:  narcissism.

Often, these individuals are solipsistic, not narcissistic.  But it is more than a matter of vocabulary semantics. Using the word “narcissistic” is dangerous.  It is a psychiatric condition (axis II).

Calling someone a narcissist may make them rich, if not narcissistic, as a result of the perceived disability claim that you have handed them.  Remember, under the ADA, an individual is protected not only if he or she is disabled, but also if he or she is perceived to be disabled.

So, perhaps we need to remove the psychological labels and simply call it what it is. Some use “selfish,” “self‑centered”  or “ego-centric.” But these words are problematic for different reasons.

They are problematic not because they invite ADA claims.  They are problematic because they invite robust debates on who the person is as opposed to his or her behavior.  “How can you call me selfish when I do so much for others…”

Let’s forget the labels altogether.  Let’s focus on the behaviors.  Consider the following option:

You are a valued employee.  But we ask that you focus on the impact of the change on all of us, and not just you.

Sometimes, subtle does not work. So don’t be afraid to be a little more direct. Just do so respectfully. Consider the following:

I get it.  But I need to consider the perceptions of others.  Your viewpoint is not the only one we must consider.

If that fails, try this: You are not center of the world.

We should engage our employees.  And we should do our best to consider their input. But don’t be the earth to your employee’s sun.  Stop revolving around an employee who thinks that he or she is the center of the universe. It is not fair to the rest. After all, your most valuable asset is your time and you have only so much to give.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Could Employee Appreciation Transform Your Hiring Strategies?

Employee retention is an important business consideration because high turnover rates are costly and often detrimental to overall team performance. However, even with the best retention rates, companies usually need to hire new workers once in a while. Whether they’re expanding or filling the holes left by retirees, leaders seek talented candidates who are excellent fits for the open roles. Anyone who’s been involved in the hiring process can attest to the fact that the whole ordeal can be quite a hassle, often with less than optimal results.

So are you stuck with the traditional routine, even if you’ve had lackluster candidate pools in the past? Perhaps not. The old strategies of posting a job description, sifting through piles of usually unpromising resumes, interviewing select candidates and choosing the best of the bunch might not be the only option. That’s what Zappos is banking on: Rather than relying on people to take interest in a job description and come to them, the company is taking advantage of an engaged, passionate workforce to be recruiting partners.

Hiring: The Zappos way 

According to the Boston Globe, Amazon-owned, Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos has decided to do away with the traditional job postings in favor of a more personal, relationship-based approach. The company created a new career site and is utilizing social media to showcase its culture and opportunities. Interested candidates can chat with current employees to gain an inside perspective on life within the organization.

The company’s HR manager, Michael Bailen, explained in a blog post on ere.net that this change reflects the business’s commitment to focus more on people. To do so, he added, Zappos needed to depart from what he considers a “fundamentally broken process” that constitutes most recruiting approaches.

“Recruiting has become a walking contradiction. We care about the candidate experience, but we spend five to seven seconds looking at a resume. We are dedicated to get back to all candidates in an effort to provide great service, but the vast majority of candidates get a rejection email,” he wrote. “I want our recruiters to build long-term, sustainable relationships with people.”

Building on a foundation of company loyalty

In order for such a people-centric approach to work, Zappos had to create a corporate culture that would be attractive to candidates as well as foster company loyalty among employees to be able to have confidence that they’d participate effectively in the recruiting platform. Zappos created such a culture by focusing on employee appreciation and engagement. By offering rewards — most of which were non-monetary — to recognize and inspire employees, Zappos put its people at the forefront of the company.

By motivating workers based on intrinsic, value-driven incentives, rather than superficial cash or prizes, companies can foster the type of organization that draws top talent because it’s known as an excellent place to work. Additionally, employees become ambassadors for the firm, which is often a more effective form of recruitment since current workers are likely to identify friends and acquaintances who will be well-suited to the realities of the job.

About the Author: As Vice President of Client Strategy for TemboStatus, David Bator works with growing companies every day and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action.

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc