Have you ever heard the saying “Teamwork makes the dream work?” Yeah I am sure you have, and I am also sure you thought it was super cheesy. Well, it is cheesy, but it is also so dang true! A Three Musketeers atmosphere of “all for one and one for all” is such a great place to come to work to everyday. Trust me though, no work environment is always like that because first, it is still work, and second, because there are real live humans that we all work with. That means they all bring their wonderful personalities with them to work every day. Some days they are happy and energetic and sometimes they are having a bad day, because the forgot something at home, or their car had a flat, or they got into it with their spouse or kids, or they just have teenagers. You know, life.
Part of our job as leaders is to remember always that our attitude permeates throughout the whole office. Our attitude can be kindling for positive or negative vibes. It can smell like roses or it can smell like a sweaty sock.
Here are a couple of things we have done to really focus on our people. We remember that they have lives, and that they are going to spend a large portion of their life at work because they haven’t won the lottery yet or had a very wealthy dead relative give them all their hard-earned fortune yet.
Start with saying thank you
First and foremost, say “thank you” to your employees on a regular basis for the hard work they do. Saying thank you in public in front of their peers or even better yet if they have kids or a spouse that happens to come to the office or you see socially goes a long, long way. Everyone loves to feel appreciated.
Fact: Employee recognition is crucial to building a strong company culture and increasing employee retention. No matter how many people are on your team or what your budget is, it’s important to implement an employee recognition system that will resonate with your employees. Here are some tips to make employee recognition meaningful to increase incentive and engagement.
Tie rewards to your company values
Rewards that support your company’s values hold more meaning and leave a lasting impression. At Patrick Accounting, we work as a team and win as a team. For a big win, we celebrate by ringing the bell in our “bullpen.” Our brand story of Rocky climbing the stairs to get one step better every day is reflected in the Patrick Accounting belt and glove. Given out for high performance each month, the belt and glove give continual encouragement that they’ve gone above and beyond in their work. Take a deep dive into your company’s brand story and values. Then, brainstorm with your team to find mementos that serve as symbols of your company’s values to be awarded for performance.
Include all categories of employees
Remember that it takes the whole team to be successful. Every person on your team has to know their role and what winning in that role looks like.
To ensure that everyone is being recognized, look at the categories of employees that exist in your organization. All departments, locations, levels and even remote employees all need to be included. It is easy for the groups with super measurable things to celebrate like sales or a production number. It will take some creativity to create your rewards structure, but be sure to support teammates could be overlooked but are just as, if not more, valuable.
Get feedback from your team
We all know that awkward feeling when someone opens a gift and it’s painfully obvious it wasn’t what they were expecting. For rewards that have a dollar amount, give your employees a gift they will get excited about. Use a poll to give your team some options and ask for their input on the types of prizes they would like to receive. Gather insight that will help you use your budget in the most effective way possible. If you use a performance review tool, add some questions or run a poll in Slack.
You may find that a free pizza to take home to their family holds more value than a gift card because it saves them time on a busy weeknight. When you get the pulse on your team to find what is most valuable to them, you’ll find some ideas that don’t cost any money. For example, our team loves the “office for a month” prize. Large companies may have more dollars to spread around, but don’t let that scare you away from implementing a lasting employee rewards program. Think through creative options that make the most sense for your budget after gathering feedback from your team.
Consider a points system
Prize wheels are easy to order online branded with your company’s logo, and the game show aspect of it gets the whole team involved. When one of our team members spins the wheel, they can choose an item from our prize menu or bank their points to save up for the prize they want. This is a great way to ensure the winner gets a prize they’ll actually use, and the excitement of choosing your prize creates more incentive. After getting feedback from your team, think through a points system that best fits your team structure and budget.
Employee recognition is truly more fun to give than receive. You never know how much a simple reward can brighten up someone’s day and make them feel appreciated for their hard work. Make employee recognition a priority to make your workplace feel more like a family, not just a job.
Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Culture takes time and consistency. You can’t have the mindset that we discussed in our mission statement and values only once, then never bring them up again. Celebrate when you see someone living your businesses value. Call it out, yell it from the rooftops. When someone isn’t doing it, privately discuss it. Remember to always celebrate in public and discipline in private.
We repeat our values at every all-hands meeting as an exercise that is one of our core values. It is great way for newer team members to learn about what it means when we say, “Team First” or “Passion for Our Purpose” or “Empathy for Others,” and is also a way to get everyone thinking again on what that value really means for us.