Like the common cold, motivational ways can spread across the workplace. Unfortunately so can un-motivational actions. Sincere recognition and appreciation reap big rewards. I understand some just don’t have a clue when it comes to implementing such practices; so I’ve culled lots of ideas from my resources to help add to your arsenal of positive actions. Please spread the word and infect others with these recognition resources.
- We never seem to get or give enough recognition where it is needed most. Non-cash awards are a sound business investment in the future of your company. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group cited in Incentive Magazine indicates that companies with superior employee recognition grew four times faster, earned $40 billion more and created 140,000 more job opportunities than the average company.
- The American Productivity Center suggests that non-cash programs cost three times less than cash programs and produce similar results.
- “Atta-persons” are not a panacea for improved performance and productivity. These sincere acknowledgements must be accompanied by mutually agreed-upon goals for the individual or team, communication, a respectful relationship and workplace, education, tracking, and measurement to maximize results and lead to long-term behavior changes.
- Balancing between cash, material stuff, and non-cash incentives and recognition is an individualized art and it changes with each team member. Ask them what they desire out of the relationship with their job and then find ways for them to make it happen. Intrinsic motivation and a passion for a cause is the most powerful incentive of all.
- In the midst of economic turmoil and organizational uncertainty, incentives and promotional programs can provide stability and a way to help pull people and entice them out of stressful times. They can be an emotional jump start to show appreciation for employee’s time, loyalty, service, and commitment, and make it easier for them to deal with emotional issues. These acknowledgement programs can bring fun and good spirits back to the workplace and show how much you care about the team pulling together and sticking together through tough times.
- Making a show that the top dogs are cutting back on expenses during financial squeeze times demonstrates to the team that everybody, including the top dogs are tightening their belt. Make a game of who can trim the fat off the financial statement and expenses line item could offer incentives and get suggestions for improving operations. Offering a percentage of the cost savings to the person who suggested it will go a long way to empower and energize staff.
- Start a walking club at work, or a brown bag “lunch and learn” session to make positive use of the lunch hour and encourage healthy habits, networking, and self-improvement. Include topics such as planning for retirement, scrap-booking, refinancing your home, training your dog, communicating with family members, or vegetarian cooking.
- If your organization offers flextime, how about offering a change of schedules with the change of seasons for a change of pace.
- Offer a company-sponsored luncheon or special recognition for the graduates of family members, or offer a small gift from the company to the graduate such as a gift card to a bookstore or computer store to help them in their next phase of life. Endearing your organization to the family members has been proven an effective retention strategy.
- Involve family members in the recognition process or incentive chain. Perhaps offering a catalog of awards or prizes that the worker can receive in exchange for their earned points in a company-sponsored contest or sick-leave, or safety record program. Sending the catalog to their home address where family members may page through the options may be just the incentive a worker needs to spur them on to earn more points for the mountain bike their daughter spotted in the catalog. Sometimes we do more for family members than we do for ourselves.
Remember that motivation is contagious and so is de-motivation. Even self-motivated employees wither within a demoralizing environment. You can’t fake appreciation – it will backfire every time. Ultimately, companies that treat their employees with respect and show concern for their personal and professional well-being are most likely to emerge successful, even in the face of a downturn, or a bad economy. Organizations can foster loyalty by tuning in to their workers and offering them what they want such as flexibility, education, tele-commuting options, and ways to enhance work/life balance. Asking people what they want is the first step to tuning in and getting it right.
Trust your intuition and use common sense to weigh the options. There is a reason behind gut feelings. Being aware of them could save you some time and energy that could be put toward better causes. Stress overcomes you and zaps your energy when your gut says “no”, and your mouth says “no problem”. Is your body telling you a decision is not authentic to your being?
Trust your intuition and be still enough to listen to your body giving you insight into your decisions. When your instinct says “no way” and your lips say “okay”, then you’ve got a problem which brings on the fight or flight syndrome to one degree or another. Take notice of how often your gut reaction is on target or how often your intuition leads you to a positive outcome. Learning to trust your sixth sense and using common sense will help guide you through some tough decisions or tough situations.
Interviews with female victims of personal attacks have been reported that state many of them felt a sense of fear, or that something was not quite right with the situation or the person just before their attacks. That was their intuition warning them of a dangerous situation.
If something doesn’t feel quite right to you, take stock of why you have that feeling and try to make some sense of it before you act on it. Tune into your gut and listen to your heart and it will give you more energy to put towards other things and help you avoid the stress of a difficult situation.
Try engaging employees by aligning their passions and values with your organization and supporting their need to be a part of the community and have a heart at work. Two of my past clients, Fannie Mae and Washington Mutual offer several hours per month for each employee to provide community service and volunteer activities of their choice to help provide goodwill in the community. Having each employee choose their project provides them with more choice over their time instead of the organization selecting a neighborhood cleanup or other project where the hearts and heads of the staff may not be so concerned. Give your team choices and they will give you their best effort.
- Ensure that recognition is timely and immediately follows their accomplishment
- Praise individuals versus entire groups – it carries more meaning when each person is singled out for exactly what they did instead of telling the whole group ‘they done good’
- Be specific in your praise and highlight details of the accomplishment to show you noticed and understand what they did
- Write a note home to the team member’s family telling the family of the staff member’s accomplishments
- Give recognition that was actually earned to make it more meaningful and avoid giving acknowledgement before it was actually earned in order to motivate an employee
- Give a welcome party for a new team member instead of throwing them a party only when they leave
- Sincerity is a key ingredient to the success of any recognition gesture. Actions lose their effectiveness when done in a tone of insincerity and if you spell names incorrectly or get dates wrong.
- Employees feel most productive when they feel their contributions are valued and their feedback is welcomed by management.
- An unsupportive atmosphere can lead to reduced performance levels and higher turnover for business.
- Another poll by Maritz Research found dissatisfaction with the way employers offer recognition. The survey of 1001 adults nationwide found 34% of them do not feel they are recognized for their work performance in ways that are important to them. Only 40% felt they were adequately recognized.
- Other findings indicated 26% of employees are unhappy with the way they are managed and 32% intend to change jobs.
- Accountemps, an international staffing services firm conducted a recent worker satisfaction survey and found that 43% of executives from large firms believe that an employee’s relationship with their manager has the greatest impact on job satisfaction – far more than any other factor.
- 5 tips to combat the uninspired, unchallenged worker who is wasting away:
- Spot It – perform stress audits and appraisals regularly
- Prevent It – match the right people to the right job for a better fit with skills and challenges – screen new hires for a better fit
- Lead It – don’t allow this type of culture in your organization – be aware of prevention
- Confess It – take a look at your own behavior and role modeling and if your attitude is slipping
- Risk It – revisit your purpose at work and your definition of success and take some calculated risks to put you on the edge of vitality again
What are you doing to inspire and empower your employees? What is keeping them from walking? A Deloitte Millennial survey found that 70% of Millennials see themselves as working independently one day? What are you doing to encourage them to stay?
A Gallup poll suggested that four out of ten workers report feeling frequently angry at work. Compartmentalizing your work issues so they don’t overlap into your personal life is an effective strategy to combat stress and save your partnership and family life at home. The same goes for bracketing problems at home to avoid a drain on your creative energies necessary to get your job done at work. Avoid the spillover of disgruntlement from one area to another, and the people around you will be happier too.
Complaining and negative talk can only spiral downward leading away from imaginative solutions. I realize that we are holistic beings and that we cannot completely separate ourselves into two halves and completely set aside our stresses and issues, but we can be keenly aware of how these issues affect our psyche and our energy. Knowing that we would be better off not taking out our work frustrations on our kids, our pets, or our spouse, is a step in the right direction of bracketing our problems and dealing with them in the most productive and effective way and to save others from our stress.
Figure out what you can and cannot control and who could help you deal with your coping strategy. If something is not under your control, bracket it and let it go. If a problem seems too large, separate it into smaller chunks, bracket each piece and then deal with it one portion at a time until the whole problem is solved.
Sometimes we get paralyzed by fear of the unknown, or fear of how to start, or fear of how to cope with our problems. By separating out what we need to do and who needs to be involved, we can better cope with the stress of the situation.
Post a copy of your goals, your vision, your ideal day, your life line, or your treasure map someplace where you can review it daily or weekly. Creating a visual reminder of the big picture you seek sets it in your mind and generates internal motivation and pictures to energize and inspire you. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day issues, inconveniences, and irritants of living, that we forget the big picture. Sometimes we need that big picture to help pull us through some of that yucky stuff we have to wade through to get to the other side.
I have made a habit of doing an annual mission statement and personal vision for my ideal life as well as writing down 100 things that I want in my life. I have been doing this for 20 years and find it quite interesting to see what was on my first list. Some things on your list may be easy to acquire or accomplish and other things may take you many years to achieve. It’s always good to have intermediate milestones to whet your appetite for more success.
Research has shown that our energy is enhanced when we are actively working on achieving a goal. I keep my treasure maps in my walk-in closet. I have also had them in my garage and inside my medicine cabinet door. One study concluded that 39% of the people who use your bathroom will look inside your medicine cabinet, so I decided to give them a show with my treasure map.
Reaffirming our mission on a continual basis gives us strength and energy to handle our challenges. The benefits of visualizing what we desire have been proven time and again. Seeing a picture of yourself in a positive state in the future sends a signal to your brain and your body to prepare for this end state and you subconsciously start behaving in ways to make it true.
Physical energy accounts for only 30% of our total energy while 70% of our energy comes from our emotional energy. Emotion is energy in motion. Get yours in motion through positive visualization. I have found that creating Treasure Maps – posters of pictures and words that you have cut and pasted from magazines that represent what you want in your life are like magical magnets to what you visualize for your life. The act of physically creating the poster and being on the lookout for images to add whenever you skim through a publication keeps your visions on the top of your mind and you are more likely to act in a manner that is congruent to achieving your vision if you see it clearly each day. Get your scissors, glue, and poster board ready.
We are all works in progress. Learn by other’s mistakes and experiences and copy some of the traits, behaviors, and attitudes of those who are successful in an area that interests you. Take notice of what worked for them and adapt it to your own lifestyle and throw out what doesn’t work for you. Listen to their lessons to save yourself undue energy drainage doing something the wrong way. Seek those who do it right and follow their example. Learn how they got where and what they are today and why they do the things they do. Follow the lead of others who have paved the way for us, and then branch out on your own and blaze the way for others to follow your lead.
Find somebody who is willing to give you a leg up on life and ask for their guidance and assistance. By taking a shortcut on the learning curve, you free up your energies by not spinning your wheels to learn something the long way. Who do you know that you could take to lunch and learn about their business or their style? Stephen Covey’s bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is just one shortcut to learning about such traits to copy. In it he shares the seven traits that are worth copying in your own life.
Copy the traits of those who have lived much longer than you. One of the factors worth copying is to take yourself more lightly. Lighten up and lighten your emotional load for increased energy and enjoyment. The New England Centenarian Study followed over 150 people age 100 or more and found every person tested low for levels of neuroticism or sadness. These feelings can disturb heart-beats, reduce immune functioning, and accelerate the aging process. Having the ability to easily shed emotional stress, remain calm and collected during crises, take charge, and easily adapt to changes in their environment and life situations were key ingredients to their longevity.
Letting go of issues and situations that are out of your control, in the past, or can’t be changed, allows your energy to be put towards a more positive use. Dwelling on things out of your hands pulls you down into the depths. Stewing over past circumstances, or decisions you have already made keep you grounded in the past and keep your energy grounded as well. Lightening up your outlook and letting go of your heavy loads will set your energy free. Copy this valuable trait of those who have lived to tell about it and you may well live a long life too.
Cut out the extraneous stuff and go directly to the heart of what matters most. Being direct with other people, with clarity of intention add going for what you want without excessive distractions enhances your chances of success with less effort. Cut out bad habits, superfluous stuff, obligations, and behaviors that aren’t working for you. We tend to behave in ways that get us what we want. Figuring out the payoff for our actions will help us cut through the crap that gets in the way.
Our motivations behind our behaviors are generally about validating our self worth and the image that we have of ourselves. What kinds of images are you fostering and validating by your behavior? Are you being as direct and forthright with your thoughts, words, and actions, or are you losing precious energy beating around the bush and piling it on. Cutting through the miscommunication and misunderstandings of the symptoms and going directly to the root cause of an issue saves us undue wear and tear on our relationship with ourselves and others.
Being decisive saves energy. Cutting through to a direct decision without wasting emotional and mental energy stewing about it will preserve your nerves and will alleviate the emotional drain of second-guessing yourself. Be firm in your conviction and ability to make good decisions and leave out all the other waffling once you’ve made up your mind. Take a deep look to see if you can cut through some crap in your communication, your decision making, or your relationships to release some pent up energy.
Attitude Equals Profits: Take Your Vacation Days to Improve Your Attitude and Improve Company Income
Attitude equals profits: satisfied workers drive company results according to the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement who found a direct link between employee satisfaction and a company’s fiscal performance. I say, “Duh! – what have we been saying from anecdotal evidence and other research all these years!” It’s time to take your vacation days to improve your attitude. If you won’t take time off for yourself, then do it for your colleagues or for the bottom line of your organization.
At any rate, key findings of the study included:
1. High employee satisfaction is often the result of strong internal communications efforts throughout the organization.
2. Another satisfaction driver: internal competition among work teams to implement organizational goals.
3. Satisfaction leads to a status called “employee engagement.” Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more.
4. Employee attitudes affect those of customers.
5. It is less expensive to foster employee satisfaction than it is to acquire new customers.
6. Organizational culture is the single greatest driver of employee satisfaction levels.
Here are some additional reasons to take your hard-earned and well-deserved vacation days:
- According to a recent survey of 1400 US workers, by www.Careerbuilder.com, more than one-third of workers will be taking work with them on vacation by either carting along their laptop, checking emails, or being in voice mail contact. 16% said their supervisors expected them to check in during their holiday and 19% said they would check in voluntarily. Of these workers, 61% said they would check their voice mail and email daily.
- In the same survey, 40% said a vacation of 3-5 days is enough to feel refreshed, 17% said they would take a shorter vacation or no time off this year, while 44% plan to take more than 5 days.
- Not surprisingly, half of the workers said they feel stressed at the office and 22% of these workers indicate some stress while taking time off because they have to check in. They also indicated that vacations were the #1 event they have postponed in order to progress in their careers.