Employee Appreciation Day: Why Not Celebrate All Year?

Sponsored by Workhuman

How often does your organization acknowledge team members who deserve recognition? Certainly, Employee Appreciation Day is an ideal opportunity to thank everyone. But an annual pat on the back isn’t nearly enough to move the meter on employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

So, what does effective recognition actually look like, and how can Employee Appreciation Day help? According to today’s #WorkTrends podcast guest, companies that get recognition right treat it as an ongoing conversation where everyone is invited to participate.

Makes sense. But what kind of impact can employers expect? The numbers are impressive. For example, research shows that when we regularly acknowledge employees, they’re 90% more likely to be happier at work. They’re also 70% less likely to burn out. And they’re 60% more likely to stay onboard. To find out more about what’s driving these outcomes, tune in now…

Meet Our Guest:  Derek Irvine

Had a blast discussing this topic with Derek Irvine, SVP of Strategy and Consulting Services at Workhuman! Derek is a foremost expert on recognition and the human side of business. I can’t think of anyone who’s better qualified to help us understand how to make each day feel like Employee Appreciation Day. So please join us as we dig deeper:

Why Appreciation Matters

Welcome, Derek! You’ve studied employee appreciation for years. What does science tell us about its value?

Actually, appreciation is like a natural medicine. When someone sincerely thanks us at work, it releases happy hormones. It boosts our health and wellbeing. So in a way, Employee Appreciation Day is like a wellness day.

Unfortunately, however, research says 80% of people aren’t appreciated enough. This means they’re more likely to become disengaged or quit. So this is important. But it’s something we can fix.

Factors That Support Appreciation
How does Workhuman honor Employee Appreciation Day?

Of course, we acknowledge all of our employees and celebrate as a team. But for us, every day is Employee Appreciation Day. So we’re committed to a continuous dialogue. And our reward strategy is built on three foundational blocks:

  1. Fair Pay: People need to feel appropriately compensated for their contribution.
  2. Ownership: We aren’t a public company, but everyone has a real stake in the company’s success.
  3. Recognition: These are the spontaneous moments when we acknowledge people for reaching a milestone or supporting our values.

Appreciation as a Cultural Priority

Spontaneous. I love that word. What other steps can companies take to build a culture of recognition?

In addition to being spontaneous, it’s also important to be intentional. Because most people I talk to agree that they should show more appreciation. And then, other priorities take over, so taking the time to say “thank you” constantly falls from the top of their to-do list.

You’ll want to put a drumbeat in place to be sure this intention won’t slip off of your agenda.

Getting Started

What would you say organizations should do to make Employee Appreciation Day more meaningful for everyone?

Well, it could be a great day to launch your all-year initiatives. So maybe you could recognize people at a special gathering. But then also announce your commitment to change your organization’s habits and explain how you intend to create a culture based on ongoing recognition.

That’s my top recommendation because it will help your organization pivot in a more positive trajectory, and it will have a lasting impact.

Tools That Enhance Appreciation

How can technology help employers make recognition work better?

Using technology to thank people may seem odd. But it can help in several ways.

It can provide a nudge that reminds managers to reach out to people at specific times. But beyond that, with a platform like ours, you’ll create a fantastic repository of all the human connection stories that are happening in your organization.

You also have a huge data pool you can use to understand your culture better. For example, you can ask: What words are people using? What skills are being celebrated? Are particular leaders being recognized for skills we hadn’t seen? Are there dark spots in the organization where people aren’t being thanked at all?

Insights like these can be a powerful way to enhance your work culture with more intention…

For more insights from Derek about why and how to make every day feel like Employee Appreciation Day, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Simple Ways to Help Remote Employees Feel Connected

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023Sponsored by Social Flowers

What a difference three years can make! I’m sure that’s what many remote employees are thinking these days. Before the pandemic, only 6% of people worked remotely in the U.S. Now, after peaking at 60% during the height of the pandemic, that number has leveled off to about 30%. But we’re all still learning how to navigate this new work-from-wherever terrain without leaving anyone behind.

Why Remote Work is Here to Stay

I understand why people want to continue enjoying the flexibility of working from a distance — even for a few days a week. Remote work remains popular because it offers advantages to employees and employers alike. For example:


  • Less commute time
  • Higher productivity (90% say they’re more productive)
  • Better mental health (74%)
  • Increased happiness with work (In fact, 61% would accept a pay cut to continue)


  • Lower overhead costs from less office space
  • Increased work output (4% more hours each week, on average)
  • Lower absenteeism (52% are less likely to take extra time off)
  • Potential savings in employee pay (People value working from home as much as a 5-7% pay increase)

Remote Employees Face Real Challenges

Despite the flexibility and freedom of working from anywhere, working at a distance also has its drawbacks. For instance, research says many remote employees struggle with social isolation and disengagement. Specifically:

To ensure remote work strategies succeed in the long term, leaders need to help people feel more connected. But that’s not always easy to accomplish from a distance.

Helping Remote Employees Feel Connected From Afar

It’s natural for remote employees to feel disconnected and lonely sometimes. After all, work relationships play a vital role in keeping employees happy, healthy, and productive. So, how can leaders bridge that gap? Start with stronger support and communication. For example:

1. Clarify Remote Work Expectations

McKinsey says remote employees who receive detailed information are 5x more productive and 3x less likely to experience burnout. That’s a good reason to articulate your vision, policies, and practices so people understand how they fit into your overall work structure and strategy. Be sure to capture this information in documents, videos, and other reference materials that are regularly updated and available to all.

2. Think Outside the Virtual Meeting Box

Many employers have learned the hard way that online meetings aren’t the only remote work solution. In fact, 56% of employees say these sessions are too frequent or too long, and 42% say they feel Zoom fatigue. Avoid overload by promoting the use of asynchronous chat and collaboration tools like Slack. Also, let people choose when and how they want to conduct team meetings or 1-on-1 conversations.

3. Leave Room for Face-to-Face Communication

There is no substitute for in-person meetings. They are the fastest, most effective way to build trust and strengthen relationships. Even if you can bring people together only for an occasional planning, training, or team-building event, you’ll find it’s worth the investment.

4. Support Social Interaction

Connections won’t flourish with all work and no play. Encourage your entire staff to develop relationships by organizing online lunches, coffee breaks, and fun online events. Offer digital community tools and resources so everyone can casually exchange information and ideas.

5. Double Down on Appreciation

When organizations celebrate together, employees are 20x more likely to feel connected and want to stay on board. That’s an impressive reason to acknowledge personal and professional milestones. Set up a channel on Slack or Microsoft Teams for managers and peers to honor individual and team achievements, as well as birthdays and other life moments. Also, if you’re a manager, lead by example. Take time to acknowledge individuals, personally.

A Powerful Way to Connect: Send Flowers

I’ve discovered sending flowers is one of the simplest but most effective ways to help remote employees feel connected. Research says all humans have a basic need to be recognized. And the most successful kinds of recognition are timely, genuine, personal, and meaningful. Receiving flowers ticks all of those boxes.

How Flowers Made a Difference in My Life

As a flower delivery business owner, I’ve seen first-hand how flowers can play a key role during life’s most important moments. But I didn’t truly understand how much they mean until my father passed away.

My immediate family had ordered arrangements for the casket and the funeral service. But I was really touched when extended family and friends also sent flowers.

Initially, I was surprised. But upon reflection, I was grateful so many people wanted to express how much my dad meant to them by sending gorgeous arrangements. Through their efforts to honor his life with the beauty of flowers, I felt a deep emotional connection that remains with me to this day.

Social Flowers: An Easier Way to Connect With Remote Employees

I created Social Flowers so others could feel this same kind of connection. The idea is simple. We make it easy to send flowers to anyone, anywhere, anytime — even if you don’t know where they’re located.

When ordering, you simply enter the recipient’s email address or mobile number. They receive a link to choose where and when they want to receive their flowers, which a local florist delivers.

You can send flowers to celebrate a birthday, a work achievement, or just to brighten someone’s day. This service ensures that you can be present for all the important moments in a remote employee’s life.

How Social Flowers Works

How to send flowers to remote employees - an easier wayAs we’ve developed our business, I’ve relied upon Social Flowers, myself, to solve logistical problems that can make it difficult to send flowers.

In one case, I knew my friend Nancy was having surgery. I didn’t know the exact date of her procedure, or if she was staying at the hospital overnight, and I didn’t want to bother her. I knew where she lived, but I hadn’t been to her home in years and I couldn’t find her address. Fortunately, I did have her mobile number, so I used that to send an arrangement through Social Flowers.

After I placed the order, Nancy accepted the text notice and chose to receive the delivery at her house. Soon afterward, I received a “Thank you!” text from her. It’s gratifying to see first-hand how this modern tool makes it so much easier to keep in touch and support others when they need it most.

Closing Note

Helping remote employees feel connected doesn’t need to be complicated. Even small gestures can make a big difference whether people are face-to-face in an office, or are working together from a distance.

It’s the same lesson I learned from my father’s funeral. With sincere intent and just a bit of thoughtful effort, you can lift anyone’s spirits anytime. Chances are, that gesture will bring you closer together in a way neither of you will forget.

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness

When it comes to the workplace, happiness is key. Studies have shown that happy employees are more productive and efficient. That’s why employers need to do what they can to create a positive work environment. But what does employee happiness mean, exactly?

Here are a few tips for contributing to employee happiness in the workplace.

What Happiness at Work Means to Employees and Employers

Employees may feel satisfied with their job, have a positive work-life balance, or feel like they are part of a supportive team.

It may mean increased productivity, lower absenteeism, or reduced turnover for employers. Regardless of the definition, work happiness is essential for employees and employers.

Studies have proven that happy employees are more engaged and productive. They are also more likely to stay with their company and less likely to take sick days.

Happy employers, however, tend to have lower health care costs and higher profits. They also tend to be more successful in attracting and retaining top talent.

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness in the Workplace

You, as the employer, can do a few things to create a happy work environment.

1. Learn More About Your Employees

Getting to know your employees personally can go a long way in making them feel valued. Take the time to learn about their interests, family, and hobbies. Doing so will not only make them feel appreciated, but it will also help you better understand their needs and how to support them.

2. Make Time for Fun

Making time for fun is just as important as working hard. It can be as simple as hosting a happy hour each week or planning activities to build teamwork. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that your employees will enjoy and look forward to.

3. Make Sure Employees Feel Heard

Employees who feel their voices are heard are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work. After all, feeling like you’re a part of the team and that your opinion matters is important to job satisfaction.

Some things you can do to ensure your employees feel heard:

  • Encourage open communication by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up.
  • Make it a point to listen to your employees and take their suggestions and feedback seriously.
  • Let employees know their input is valued and that you’re working to create a happy workplace for everyone.

4. Encourage Work-Life Balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee happiness and productivity. Employees who feel like they have a good work-life balance are more likely to be engaged in their work and less likely to experience burnout.

An example of this is employees being able to take advantage of flex time and set their hours.

5. Celebrate Employee Accomplishments

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and employees are no exception. When employees feel their hard work is being recognized, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to show appreciation for your team members is by giving verbal praise when an employee does a good job. You can do this in a one-on-one conversation, during a team meeting, or even in an email.

Another way to show appreciation is by giving tangible rewards, such as gift cards, paid time off, or tickets to a show or event.

6. Salary Increase

An employee is happiest when they get a salary increase. A raise indicates that they are doing a good job and gives them a financial incentive to continue performing at a high level.

A salary increase can also help attract and retain top talent. If your employees feel they are paid fairly, they are less likely to look for other opportunities. As a result, a salary increase can be a valuable tool for promoting employee happiness in the workplace.

7. Create a Career Pathway

Employees who feel stuck in a dead-end job are less likely to be happy at work. On the other hand, employees who feel they have a clear career path are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to create a career pathway for your employees is by providing opportunities for professional development. Professional development can include anything from paid training courses to tuition reimbursement for advanced degrees.

You can also create a mentorship program that pairs more experienced employees with newer employees. Mentorship programs can help newer employees feel like they have someone to look up to and learn from. It can also help more experienced employees stay engaged in their work.

8. Offer More Benefits

Apart from a salary increase, there are other ways to contribute to employee happiness by offering more benefits.

For example, you could provide a flexible work schedule, telecommuting options, or on-site child care. These benefits can go a long way in promoting employee happiness and retention.

Moreover, you could also offer other benefits, such as health insurance, a retirement savings plan, or paid time off. These benefits may seem like a small perk, but they can make a big difference to employees.

Benefits of a Happy Workplace

  • Productivity – When employees are happy, they are more productive.
  • Retention – Attracting and retaining top talent is essential for any organization, and a happy workplace can help.
  • Engagement – Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond for their organization.
  • Better customer service – If your employees are happy, they will be more likely to provide better customer service.
  • Improved bottom line – A happy workplace can enhance your organization’s bottom line.

The Takeaway

Employee happiness is essential to the success of any organization. You can do a few key things as an employer to help contribute to employee happiness in the workplace.

It is vital to make sure employees feel heard. Encourage open communication and allow employees to provide feedback. It is also essential to encourage work-life balance.

Make sure employees have the opportunity to take breaks and use their vacation time. Celebrate employee accomplishments and give them growth opportunities.

Finally, offer competitive salaries and benefits. By taking these steps, you can create a happy and productive workplace.

HR Case Management: The Journey to Employee Acceptance

Implementing HR case management is paramount for centralizing and standardizing HR support. It provides the opportunity to streamline the HR processes. It also assigns work to its rightful place, scales the HR organization, enhances reporting, and provides the technological foundation for HR transformation. This ultimately leads to a more structured, efficient HR organization, thus immensely improving the employee experience.

Unfortunately, employees often do not see it that way when initially introduced to HR case management. They are used to walking up or sending an email to their local HR representative and may feel they are losing this individual personal touch. Also, others may just dislike change. This can and should be expected.

And while, to a great extent, the adoption of this new model just requires time, having been through two global HR case management implementations, I do believe there are some actions we can take to facilitate it and make it smoother.

Design Around Employee Experience

According to isolved’s research, employee experience is a top priority for 92 percent of HR leaders. So enhancing employee experience is already at the forefront of our minds. And while all the benefits of HR case management described above may take some time to emerge, there are some value-adds that we can bring about even as we design and configure our HR case management system.

Think about some of your employees’ main challenges when reaching out for HR support. Try to address them. For example, the HR-related information on the company intranet may be very outdated and difficult to navigate. So adding an employee knowledge portal to the HR case management solution can be an effective way of attracting employees to the new work model.

The automatic workflows can provide many other value-adds to employees and managers. From eliminating the need for offline approvals to automatic reminders for required actions or checklists, the options are numerous. And may be a bit overwhelming. So try to assess which ones will have the most significant impact and start with them.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

As with any other change management activity, communication through implementing an HR case management solution is imperative. Highlight the benefits to the employee experience, but to achieve maximum effect, keep the communication focused. Tailor different messages to different groups in the organization, outlining the specific impact the new technology will have on improving their work lives.

While focusing on all the positives, do not forget to be realistic and address the main areas of potential resistance. These usually revolve around two main themes.

The first one is related to response times. For some employees who have so far had easy and direct access to their local HR representative, utilizing HR case management may appear slow. But my experience shows that if we present clear timelines and set the right expectations, most of our internal clients accept the new turnaround times relatively quickly.

The other types of concerns usually revolve around the quality of the HR service and the expertise of the HR specialists who will provide it in the new operating model. So make sure you build up the reputation of your HR service center team during the implementation process.

And don’t forget to continue communicating even after the initial rollout so you can reinforce your messages and keep the momentum going.

Break Old Habits

The tactics described so far are directed at pulling employees to the new HR case management solution. But we also need to push them a bit towards using it.

And to create new habits, we first need to break the old ones. For example, one of the most persistent habits we have as employees is to send and receive emails. Most of us practically live in our inboxes. So the easiest thing to do is shoot an email to the HR specialist we are used to contacting.

In both HR case management implementations that I was part of, we recognized that this habit would delay our system adoption. So we disabled the functionality to open an HR case via email from the start.

This ensured that the employees would have to go through the HR portal. There, they were more likely to try to find the information themselves. Even if they were not successful, they would then be able to select the specific type of HR case related to their query. And that would facilitate triaging and getting their request resolved faster and more efficiently.

Make Using HR Case Management Unavoidable

A big part of our resistance to change is the fear of the unknown. So one of the most efficient ways to facilitate fast adoption is to create a compelling need for people to use the new tool. Think of a process that the vast majority of the employees will want to participate in and move it to your case management tool.

We did this with our PTO sell-back program recently, making our HR case management system the only channel through which employees could send their requests. It had an amazing impact on our adoption rates which continued to remain high even after the program was over.

Get Everyone On Board

Many HR representatives find it easier to continue with their old way of work. They want to respond to queries directly rather than guiding employees to use case management.

If not addressed quickly, this can significantly delay the new model acceptance. In addition, it can create confusion which will be detrimental to employee experience.

So work with your HR function continuously. Provide them with the tools and resources to gently redirect employees and ensure that they are fluent with the system’s benefits.

Provide Excellent Service

All of the actions described here will help you overcome any resistance to change and guide your employees to your HR case management tool. But there is one more big step you need to take if you want them to turn HR case management into the go-to source for all HR support.

You need to ensure that the service employees receive is outstanding. You can have the greatest technology with all the bells and whistles. But in the end, the positive employee experience will depend on whether the query gets resolved. And for that, you need a well-trained and knowledgeable HR service center team.

Investing enough time and resources in their initial training is imperative. But it’s not enough. Make sure they are the first to know about any policy changes or new HR programs. Provide them with all the resources they need. When you do this, HR case management will be all that you promised your employees it would be.

The Sharp Drop-Off in Worker Happiness and What You Can do About it

Worker happiness has fallen every year for the last 25 years–in good economic times and bad. Today, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs. Once the economy picks up, that could mean a mass exodus from your ranks, unless you take action now.

A friend of mine resigned his long-time bank management job this week to take early retirement. I learned about it on Facebook.

As I began reading his announcement, I fully expected it to be an animated recounting of all the new hobbies he planned to pursue and exotic trips he intended to take. But it quickly became clear that this was no ordinary farewell note. He was truly upset about ending his career prematurely and wanted everyone close to him to understand why.

It was painful to discover that my former colleague had grown profoundly disheartened by the way his organization’s leadership had been treating him. With over two decades of service behind him, he called it quits simply because he couldn’t take it anymore.

“I felt like no one cared about me as a person there, and finally decided to extricate myself from the grind. I know many of you feel the same way now in your jobs…trapped and unappreciated.”

There was a sense of relief in his words, as if I was reading about someone who had been imprisoned, found an escape route, and wanted to show others the way to freedom.

“You may not be able to retire quite yet like me, but please do yourself a favor and look for something more satisfying. It might take a while (it took me eight months once I made the decision), but it’s been so worth it. If you’re old like me, then think about early retirement. If you’re young, look for a more satisfying, fulfilling career path. Don’t let these companies drain off your sense of worth, pride, health, energy, honesty and ethics. Are you listening [XYZ Bank]*? Of course you’re not.”

I share his words as another illustration that our common approach to workplace leadership is failing. And experts have been trying to tell us this for years.

New York’s Conference Board, a century-old research firm, began studying employee satisfaction and engagement 25 years ago. Their work shows that worker happiness has fallen every year since–in good economic times and bad. Today, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs.

But it’s the past four years that have brought employee discontent to new and highly charged levels.

“People were already unhappy, but the recession years have made things much worse,” says John Gibbons, formerly of the Conference Board and now Vice President of Research and Development at the Institute For Corporate Productivity. “Whether we realize it or not, workers have been under constant duress. Because of scarce resources, few opportunities for development and promotions–not to mention the fact that people often have been required to do the work of more than one person–a lot of our workforce is burnt out. Employees across the country feel overworked, under-rewarded and greatly unappreciated.”

The recession has been hard on managers too, no doubt. Delivering great customer service, and achieving KPIs and revenue goals all have been a tremendous challenge during this extended period of limited means.

But it’s clear that many leaders have lost sight of what matters most to people at work. Appreciation. Support. Recognition. Respect. And when people feel disillusioned and virtually convinced things have to be better somewhere else, they do what my friend did. They quit.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession.

Dating back to mid-2011, numerous studies have reported that at least one-third of the American workforce planned to jump ship in 2012. Since very little action has yet to be taken on that threat, however, those predictions have come to be seen only as “Chicken Little exaggerations.” Business leaders, therefore, have grown less concerned.

But the government’s new “Job Opening And Labor Turnover Survey,” (JOLTS), holds the reminder why more employees haven’t (yet) departed. Jobs have remained scarce; 12.7 million people remain unemployed in the U.S. today, while only 3.5 million job openings exist. That translates into nearly four people chasing every one job–not including already employed workers seeking greener, and more respectful, pastures.

Simply because 2.1 million people were able to find new jobs, February’s mass exodus may prove to be the watershed moment when turnover becomes the problem it was predicted to be.

However, there still may be time for managers to re-recruit their employees before they leave. This won’t be easy and it will most definitely require a significant change in leadership practices. Here are three things leaders should learn quickly and never forget:

  1. What makes people happiest in their jobs is all profoundly personal.“Do I work for an organization whose mission and methods I respect?” “Does my boss authentically advocate for me?” “Is the work I do meaningful?” “Am I afforded sufficient variety in my day?” “Do I feel valued and appreciated for all the work that I do?”

We know that all these matter more to people than their compensation–and workers generally don’t quit jobs when these basic needs are met. According to a worldwide Towers Watson study, the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Today, only 40% of workers believe that.

  1. People only thrive when they feel recognized and appreciated.In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Appreciation Matters So Much,” Tony Schwartz reminds us that all employees need to be praised, honored, and routinely acknowledged for their efforts and achievements. Consequently, leaders must allow themselves to manage more from their hearts.

Our brains are great at building strategies, managing capital, and analyzing data. But it’s the heart that connects us as human beings, and its what’s greatly lacking in American leadership today. This is what now must change.

  1. Your employees will stay if you tell them directly you need them, care about them, and sincerely plan to support them.Any time someone quits a job for a reason other than money, they’re leaving in hope that things will be better somewhere else. So, everyone who works for you must be made to feel that they matter. Plan one-on-one meetings and re-discover the dreams each person has at work. Tell people directly how valuable they are to you. To be successful, all your future behavior must demonstrate to your employees that their best career move is to remain working for you.

Being human and treating one another with dignity and respect is something the heart already knows to do. Leaders would all do well to follow it.

*His former employer, one of the U.S.’s largest financial institutions.

A version of this was first posted on

New Data on Impact of Office Design and Décor

We’ve known about the importance of work environments for some time now. In a 2003 survey by Management Today, 97 percent of respondents said they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, there’s a disheartening new layer to the story. According to data we compiled from a recent survey of 1,000 Americans who work in traditional office environments (no freelancers, retailers or astronauts), many employers fail to create inspiring, uplifting work environments.

Office decor infographics

In many cases, employers aren’t taking care of basic elements that most people associate with a pleasant, welcoming, modern workplace. One in three people report there are no plants at their offices and one in four say there is no art. Those are special accents, you say—reserved only for the privileged businesses that can afford them? Consider this: 45 percent of the people we surveyed have little to no natural light in their environment and 46 percent say the design and décor in their workplace lends it no personality whatsoever.

Light, according to our survey, is the most significant factor that shapes an office environment and the feelings of the workers in that environment. And it’s not just about feelings either—yes, people who report having “a lot” of natural light in their workplace are more likely to say they feel comfortable and uplifted in that environment, but they’re also 35 percent more likely to say their environment increases productivity. It doesn’t end there. A study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found people exposed to more light at work had longer, healthier sleep schedules.

Furniture is another key element that affects a person’s experience of their work environment, both in terms of comfort and aesthetics. For the most part, American workers are happy with their office furniture. Seventy-nine percent are satisfied with its appearance and 82 percent are satisfied with its comfort. But when it’s not right, it’s really not right—the people who reported their furniture situation is “bad” were three times more likely to feel their environment hurts productivity and two times more likely to consider it depressing. As it stands now, just one in four people say they would be proud to show their office environment to friends and family. It’s doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re one of the seventy-five percent who aren’t proud, show our data to your boss, share a link on social, spread the word to let people know that designing an inspired workplace isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for the health of a business.

This post was first published on Pots Planters and more.

Photo Credit: marksley Flickr via Compfight cc

Purpose or Engagement? Is One Better Than the Other?

When you ask HR executives what it takes to succeed, many will stress the importance of employee engagement. They refer to a company’s need for employees who are excited about their work, who are motivated to do well, and whose goals are in sync with the objectives of the organization. Employee engagement relates to employee happiness, job satisfaction, and much more.

But even if employees enjoy their work and find it compelling, is that going to be enough to keep them working at your company for the long haul? Your team may share common goals, but that doesn’t necessarily speak to your staff’s need to connect to their work and identify it as something worth doing. Your employee’s experience might be missing a key component that would solidify their commitment to your company. That component is a sense of purpose.

How Purpose Differs from Engagement

While purpose and engagement share some attributes—namely, an employee’s commitment to the company—they are not the same thing. Both are important, but when they exist together within the employee’s psyche, they can really be a powerful combination.

CustomInsight, a leading provider of online HR assessment and development tools, defines employee engagement as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.” Thus, employee engagement is tied closely to employee productivity and effectiveness, making it a critical component to success for your business.

Dale Carnegie Training reports that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by as much as 202 percent. A study of more than 1,500 employees, conducted by Dale Carnegie and MSW Research, also revealed that engaged employees exhibit enthusiasm and confidence while feeling empowered and inspired.

While employee engagement is a positive for companies, it gets even better when companies define and communicate their purpose. Purpose delves deeper than engagement—it’s the reason the company exists. It has to be more than simply making a profit; it should also encompass what the company does to fill a need and to make a difference. Purpose means having an impact on people—in most cases, the company’s clients and customers—and bringing a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment to those customers that reflects well on the company and its employees.

Employees who understand this purpose are more likely to contribute to the company’s success. They see themselves being part of a worthwhile goal and are thus more likely to work harder and with more enthusiasm to achieve that goal. In other words, employees are more likely to be engaged once they understand and buy into their company’s purpose.

Benefitting Through Purpose

Inc. magazine cites a survey from Deloitte, which found that 73 percent of employees who say they work for a “purpose-driven” company are engaged. In contrast, only 23 percent of employees identify themselves as engaged when they don’t characterize their company as “purpose-driven.” Additionally, more than 90 percent of leaders at purpose-driven companies expect to maintain or strengthen their brand in the next decade, whereas only about half of companies without that strong purpose expect to do the same.

The Inc. article stresses the need for companies to make their purpose clear to employees by establishing systems that are compatible with that purpose. As an example, let’s say your company provides financial services. You define your purpose as helping people improve their lives with financial security. To help achieve this purpose, you might set up free financial seminars or reach out to communities that are underserved. You set systems in place to support your purpose, and in so doing, you engage employees with a sense that they are helping people and doing meaningful work.

Purpose Drives Engagement

It’s clear, then, that purpose is essential to driving employee engagement. The terms “purpose” and “engagement” are not interchangeable, but they do go hand in hand. Purpose is the foundation upon which engagement is built. However, one is not better than the other. Without a sense of purpose, employee engagement may be short-lived, and without engagement, a company’s purpose will not be fully realized.

If you want to improve your employee engagement, start by defining your company’s purpose—better engagement will likely follow.

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Why You Should Let Employees Pick Their Job Titles

Traditional job titles are like business meeting jargon—they’ve become meaningless and have tended to make my eyes glaze over. As positions evolve thanks to changes in technology and workplace dynamics, it’s time for employers to let individuals choose job titles that reflect what they actually do.

Think about it: Wouldn’t you like to have a desk plaque that says Chief Happiness Officer? Or how cool would it be to have a business card that said Software Ninjaneer or Master of Storytelling? And doesn’t Director of First Impressions sound way cooler than receptionist?

For some fortunate professionals at forward-thinking companies, creative job titles are all the rage, and experts are finding it can have a positive impact on employee happiness. As reported in the Harvard Business Review, a London Business School professor who conducted research on this trend found that once some of the formality is removed, cool job titles helped inspire creativity, and even empowered some workers to triumph over workplace stress. Other research suggests that letting employees choose their own job titles can even serve as a top strategy for retaining talent since it gives them a sense of autonomy. In fact, it could be part of a larger cultural trend in which more than half of employees say they’ve gained more influence at work over the last five years, according to Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index 2016 report.

Giving Employees a Title Shot

Companies that have had success with this approach include Disney and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. At Disney, employees are known as Imagineers and Cast Members. The Make-a-Wish Foundation has rebranded all its job functions into inspirational titles, which includes the CEO who has become the Fairy Godmother of Wishes, and the PR team now referred to as Magic Messengers and Heralders of Happy News.

Still need convincing that a job title can have that an effect on performance and employee happiness? Here are a few more compelling reasons why it’s worth trying in your organization:

It’s a perk. In an age where raises, bonuses, and promotions aren’t always available to offer, providing fun perks can serve to keep employee morale high. The ability to choose your own job title can help give your team a sense of validation.

It’s indicative of a fun work culture. Giving your employees the ability to introduce themselves to potential clients or customers using a unique job title will not only be a great conversation starter, but it will illustrate the “human side” of your company. People will genuinely want to know more about the “cool” organization behind the original job title.

It gets employees excited and motivated. In the Make-a-Wish case study, about 85 percent of the employees surveyed said their new job title helped them cope with the sometimes emotionally draining aspects of the job, as reported in Fast Company.

It can add a little flair to a potentially nondescript position. There’s no getting around the fact that some job titles sound dull. However, being called a Genius (like Apple store employees are) rather than service technician can jazz things up.

If you’re thinking of letting employees pick their own job title, you should set some boundaries. Here are a few to get you started:

Make sure the chosen titles fit in with your company culture. You want the new position names to continue to convey the values of your organization. That’s why Make-a-Wish went the inspirational/magical-sounding route. Does IT Jedi or Marketing Maestro make sense in the context of your company?

It should be meaningful to the role. Queen of Awesome sounds, well, awesome, but it doesn’t say anything about what that employee does. On the other hand, it’s not too much of stretch to infer that Brand Champion is a marketing position.

It should be the employee’s choice. That’s the whole point here, isn’t it? On the other hand, if an entire department is rethinking its titles, it can be a fun team exercise to brainstorm new titles together, and then take a vote.

Ultimately, even though allowing employees to pick their own titles is more of a symbolic gesture, it can demonstrate that the company values its workforce. Plus, leaving a little room for lightheartedness, even in a serious industry, is an excellent way to help workers feel relaxed. Take it from this Blog Writing Aficionado—a change in job title can be more meaningful that you’d think.

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The #1 Reason People Leave a Job Might Surprise You

Do you know the number one reason employees leave a job? It isn’t because of their title, salary or workload. They leave because of their managers.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It makes sense, and we have the research to prove it.

Multiple surveys have confirmed a manager can make or break an employee’s experience. A study by employee engagement firm TinyPulse identified various behaviors impact retention, such as micromanagement and a lack of opportunities for development. Gallup found “at least 75 percent of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.”

Compensation, culture, colleagues, and balance all play a role—but the crux is the person who holds the role of supervisor.

When Good Intentions Lead to Bad Management
Bad managers aren’t uncommon; most people have survived at least one. But bad managers aren’t bad people; more often than not, they just don’t have the skills they need to be effective or to recognize warning signs. Consider this:

Skilled workers aren’t automatically great managers. Companies often promote internally, rewarding skilled employees with a move to management. Moving some into management can be a solid strategy, but you can’t ignore the corresponding need for professional development. Before you promote an employee, you need to vet them carefully and provide access to appropriate training. Without that, new managers feel like they are expected to “wing it” and to learn as they go. And, over time, the bad habits that arise from inadequate training can cause real problems.

Enthusiastic managers can overwork good employees. “If you want something done, ask a busy person,” Benjamin Franklin once said—and it’s true that good employees often work more efficiently, produce more, and take on more than required. Instead of rewarding above-and-beyond contributions, however, some managers push for more by consistently turning to the best people on their team. This can leave top performers feeling taken advantage of and burned out, spurring them to leave for a job that respects their time and dedication.

Positive working relationships must be a priority. People spend much of their waking hours at work. Managers are responsible for helping their teams be productive, and for improving morale and developing each team member’s skills. Employees who are boxed-in or feel unsupported will stop producing at the same rate, and they may leave entirely.

Anyone can handle a bad management situation temporarily, but… A good employee won’t hang around for years. Employees need to feel appreciated, challenged, and supported in the workplace. Good management doesn’t just help the individual, it helps the team, department and organization succeed.
Treat Employees Well Without Sacrificing Business Goals

Unfortunately, many managers miss the warning signs. And then? It can be too late. According to HR consultant Bill Rehm, managers often fail to think about retention until the moment someone hands in a resignation notice. They’re often so focused on the battle for recruitment that they miss the internal weaknesses. Then, they write off the departure as something with an external cause.

To build and nurture strong teams, you need to start with each manager. You can reduce turnover rates and eliminate the number one reason for talent loss by encouraging sound management techniques. Where do you start? How about by:

Getting to know the person, not just the worker. What someone writes on a resume or does on the job isn’t their full biography. Take time to get to know team members; ask about their motivations, hidden skills, and outside interests. Learn what the company can do to support their professional growth.

Finding the right talent—for management and your team. Good recruiting finds the right employees to fit a company’s corporate culture and leadership. According to Smashfly,* of the 2015 Fortune 500 companies, 57 percent share employee stories as part of their strategy to attract great candidates. Use employee advocates and authentic stories to help build teams who will work well together.

Embracing a culture of transparency and engagement. Engage employees in decision-making discussions and give them context for the work they do every day. A deeper level of understanding can be a motivating factor and may present an opportunity for innovation.

Celebrating good work. As often as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” a good job deserves attention, too. Plus, celebrating it may offer more benefits than drawing attention to errors. When employees do well—go above and beyond, or take initiative—recognize their work with verbal praise and earned rewards.

Remembering that change is good. Companies need constant innovation and new thinking to gain or keep a competitive edge. Employees who feel stifled or unchallenged won’t contribute to that evolution.

Providing ongoing feedback. Annual performance and engagement reviews are falling by the wayside, replaced by regular surveys and reports. Company leadership should consider continually offering employees both data-driven and personal feedback about their performance.

Companies need strong managers—and strong leaders. Be a strong leader. Invest in your management team. You’ll not only encourage innovation and growth—you’ll keep your employees happy and eliminate one of the key factors that can have them heading for the door.

* is a TalentCulture client but the views expressed in this post are my own.

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Employee Happiness: A Top-3 Company Metric

Unlike revenue, profit or cost-cutting, reporting on the benefits of having happy employees hasn’t been black and white in the past. Today, there are dozens of reports, surveys and statistics that show the correlation between happy employees and important business metrics.

Today we’ll discuss how to “sell” the benefits of investing in the happiness of your employees to your boss – whether that’s the CEO, your board, your Chief HRO or someone else.

The Statistics

Let’s start with the statistics that show the impact of employee happiness on a typical business.

Here are seven highlights:

  1. Companies that have highly engaged employees enjoy 2.5x more revenue than those that don’t
  2. Low-level engagement from employees results in a 33% decrease in revenue and an 11% decrease in earnings growth
  3. Companies with high employee engagement levels have a 19% increase in revenue and a 28% increase in earnings growth
  4. Increasing your investment in employee engagement by just 10% can increase profits by $2,400/employee/year
  5. Unhappy employees take 15 more sick days each year than their happy counterparts
  6. $11B is lost each year due to employee turnover that comes from poor company culture
  7. Companies that regularly ask for employee feedback have turnover rates that are 15% lower

The statistics above can help you “sell” the benefit of employee happiness being a key metric that’s measured across the company and routinely reported on, but how do you actually measure happiness?


Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used to measure customer happiness, but it can also be used quite easily to measure employee happiness — that is, how likely employees are to recommend an open position to their friends or other people they know.

You can collect eNPS (Employee NPS) quarterly or annually via surveys, or you can use a platform that helps you collect and measure employee happiness in real-time, which is the preferred approach of companies like Google, LinkedIn and TripAdvisor.

By doing the latter, you can find and act on issues and problems much more quickly, thus stemming employee turnover, communication issues, etc., before they hurt your company.

In terms of eNPS as a metric, like NPS, you measure employee happiness on a scale of 1 to 10, subtract your detractors from your promoters and arrive at your score.

Making eNPS “Fun”

Showing a 1-10 rating scale feels sterile, though, so what about a change-up in how the employee happiness question is presented?

Sure, something like SurveyMonkey can help you collect eNPS and also comments from your employees, but survey designs are typically bland and boring.

Instead of a plain-looking survey with a 1-10 rating scale, what about if you used happy, OK and sad faces as a proxy for eNPS? They could click on the face that represents how they feel about their role.

Happy would be scored as a 10, OK as a 7 and sad as a 1. Same result, but a more interesting presentation to your employees.

To employees, this is a much more engaging and visually appealing way to rate how you feel when compared to a scale of 1 to 10. And when something looks better, the completion rate is higher, therefore giving you more data and a better read of employee happiness.

Increasing Participation

So how can you increase your feedback rate and make employees want to participate?

The trick is to give them options. Do they want to suggest an idea to improve the company? Maybe they want to share anonymous feedback with management? How you present the options is critical too. Keep it simple and basic.

It’s About Measurement + Actionable Feedback

First you measure their happiness, then you ask for clarification so you know what to do to improve. It’s a simple process, but it works extremely well.

At a company level, you can report on employee happiness (eNPS), but also show how you’re taking action to boost eNPS quarter over quarter based on the feedback of everyone who took the survey that wasn’t happy in their job.

Like most things that work, it’s a simple concept. But it’s powerful, it works at scale and it can transform your culture, communication, transparency and productivity.

About the Author: Rob Finnick is the content strategist for StackHands — an employee engagement platform that helps leaders collect ideas and anonymous feedback from their employees to make their company a better place to work.

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Drive Your Culture Via Real-Time Feedback

Understanding Net Promoter Score

I’m sure you’ve heard about NPS, or Net Promoter Score. It’s a simple way to measure the likelihood of a customer referring a business or organization to friends and colleagues. A high NPS means more of a businesses’ customers are likely to refer them. These are the promoters. A low NPS means not only will fewer customers refer them, but they will talk negatively about them. These are the detractors.

Now, NPS is a great way to measure the success of a business externally — that is, through the eyes of its customers. But how do you measure the success of a business internally, through the eyes of its employees — arguably the most important measurement you can capture?

Introducing Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

How do you know if you have a great culture that excites and inspires people to turn up every day and do their best work?

The answer is eNPS, or Employee Net Promoter Score. eNPS is the result of asking your employees a simple question:

How likely are you to refer an open position at our company to someone you know?

Measuring Employee Happiness

So what’s the best way to measure the happiness of your employees (eNPS), and how often should you do it? There are two schools of thought here.

The first is that quarterly or even (gasp!) annual surveys are fine. You email a survey to your employees (using a combo of SurveyMonkey and Mailchimp, for example), collate the results, work out your eNPS and you’re done. You might also throw in a field where they can leave comments to help you understand their perspective.

The second approach is more real-time. Instead of waiting three months or a year to hear from your employees, you get up-to-the-minute feedback on how happy they are with their job. If they’re unhappy, you can immediately give them a path to tell you why — either directly or anonymously. You and your team can then act on that feedback instantly without waiting months to hear about their concerns or ideas. Or worse, having them resign because you took too long to ask and act.

The second approach is what modern companies like Google, Twitter and Southwest are doing and it’s creating amazing results. The feedback loop goes from months to days and in some cases hours. Employees all get an equal voice regardless of title or role and constructive ideas and feedback pour in every day from all around the company.

Now don’t get me wrong. Starting with a quarterly eNPS survey and acting on the feedback already puts you ahead of 90% of other companies who do nothing. But to really amp things up and create not just a good culture, but an incredible culture that draws the best talent and keeps them around for years, real-time feedback is where you need to be.

Getting To Real-Time Feedback and a High eNPS

If you read Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards for 2014 and really dig into the reviews provided on these companies by employees, you’ll notice a common thread. Every single one of these companies not only provides a way for everyone to share ideas and feedback in real-time, but all employees also have an equal voice and a path to better themselves and their company as a result.

What’s the best way to get from quarterly or weekly feedback to real-time feedback? First, it starts with a mindset change. Then you need the tools.

Tools can be anonymous surveys, iPads at entry and exit points of your office that ask how happy your employees are (eNPS) or even simply opening up your calendar so anyone in the company can schedule some one-on-one time with you.

The point is to commit to it and try something. The statistics around low employee engagement are alarming, so make sure you focus on the happiness, engagement and productivity of your employees early and often.

So there you have it. A look at eNPS and a path to get from quarterly surveys to a real-time feedback loop that gives you insight and lets you take action in hours, not months. Your employees know how to improve your culture. It’s instinctive to them. You just have to ask and give them a way to share their feedback with you.

About the Author: Rob Finnick is the content strategist for StackHands, an employee engagement platform that helps HR managers collect ideas and anonymous feedback from their employees to make their company a better place to work.

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