How to Show Employees You’re Thankful

460387683This Thanksgiving, before you enjoy a few days off with family, friends, and a mountain of turkey, make sure you show one group of people just how thankful you are for them: your employees. Wondering how to best give a little thanks to the people who make your organization run? It’s simple. Show them they’re valued. 

A heartfelt thank you is only one piece of the recognition “pie.” To really inspire your people, it’s all about the challenge. Commending employees for bringing their best and praising their hard work is important, but offering up new challenges is just as crucial in keeping their motivation high. Too many companies miss this element, and their employees go weeks or months without being thanked with new projects to tackle.

Just as important as offering new challenges is making it clear you value employees’ contributions. Communicate how much you value your people and what they do. You’ll establish the foundation to grow positive, supportive relationships and make it easier to openly share feedback and outline new goals.

Communicating thanks isn’t just a morale booster, either. A solid employer/employee relationship helps cut stress and boost engagement, while poor relationships are shown to decrease engagement. What’s more, caring managers who show they respect and appreciate employees help keep their people with an organization.

Showing employees you’re thankful goes way beyond these basics, though. Here are six suggestions to show your employees you value them:

  • Give great opportunities: Support your people by bringing their work beyond the day-to-day. Employees love the chance to do what excites them, so find a way to connect what they’re passionate about with broader company goals.
  • Make eye contact: Sure, it may seem like obvious Psychology 101, but letting your eyes wander when chatting with employees shows you’re disinterested and unengaged, and can be hugely demotivating. Be present by maintaining eye contact, asking questions, and offering feedback.
  • 179217850Spend time with them: A real leader isn’t like the Wizard of Oz: behind the curtain and unapproachable. Be available, and if you have an “open door” policy, remember to keep your door open.
  • Meet with new hires: Getting to know new team members shows them they’re valuable right off the bat. Stay aligned on their contributions and growth – and celebrate their successes along the way.
  • Be authentic: This one’s easy, but it can be easy to forget the importance of authenticity when leading an organization. Stay genuine – your employees will know the second you’re faking it.
  • Lead by example: Your sincere gratitude influences everyone. Show people you’re thankful and you’ll start seeing more co-workers communicating that same sentiment to each other, creating a great company culture.

Showing employees you care and you’re thankful for them and their contributions takes a variety of forms and requires consistent demonstration. Keep in mind that companies are collections of people who all respond differently so encourage employees’ feedback on what works (and what doesn’t). Listen to them. Learn what they find valuable and how they feel accomplished. Then, eliminate the guesswork and thank them accordingly.

This Thanksgiving – and all year long – make it a priority to build a culture that allows people to bring their best, tackle new challenges, and let their brightest selves shine.

Chris Boyce is an accomplished technology entrepreneur with 20+ years’ of consumer loyalty, enterprise, and software experience. As Virgin Pulse’s CEO, his leadership’s been instrumental in guiding the development of market-leading products and services that help employers improve workforce health, employee engagement, and corporate culture. Chris earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and he’s big fan of basketball, archery, and soccer.

This article, “6 Ways to Show Gratitude to Employees,” originally appeared in Employee Benefit News.

Top Tactics to Engage Everyone in Well-being +{Podcast}

startWhen you hear “corporate wellness,” what comes to mind? Many people imagine an unengaging program that narrowly focuses on the sick or at-risk employees, using tools and tests like health risk assessments and biometric screenings.

If that’s the kind of program you picture, you’re thinking of a wellness 1.0 approach to employee well-being. But recently, many corporate wellness programs have evolved way beyond these tactics. No longer targeting solely the sick population, wellness 2.0 approaches move beyond one-size-fits all programs.

With unhealthy workers costing businesses $153 billion in lost productivity annually, according to Gallup, and disengagement tacking on another $550 billion each year, the same source reports, investing in programs that counteract these big business problems isn’t an option. It’s a must for successful businesses.

That’s why leading organizations are rolling out robust programs with a more holistic definition of wellness in mind, helping employees improve all aspects of their well-being – not just their physical health. Gamified programs, mobile devices, strong incentive strategies – employers are using these components and more to get and keep their people healthy and engaged.

stretchBut even with these enhanced efforts, engaging people can be hard, and sustaining their participation is even harder. So many variables – like program design, incentive strategy, company culture, workforce makeup, and more – can affect your employees’ decision to enroll and stay engaged in your wellness program.

So, how can you engage employees and drive a healthy, productive culture for the long haul?

In a recent podcast, industry experts Fran Melmed, founder, context communication, and David Coppins, president, Virgin Pulse discussed best practices to engage all employees in your health and well-being program, and how to design personalized programs that meet the needs of your workforce. Mary Pitman, Manager of Health Promotion at Norfolk Southern, joined them to explain how her company tailored its approach to employee well-being and health, driving higher participation and engaging a diverse, dispersed workforce.

Listen to the podcast, “Targeted Tactics to Engage all Employees in Health and Well-Being,” and learn more about how you can ensure your strategy is developed with everyone in mind.

What Does Fantasy Football Have to do With Employee Engagement?

177698593Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means two things. (No, not the kickoff to the holiday shopping season that we’re made to believe started around Halloween… sigh).

It means great food with family and, of course, football. And if you’re like me, you’re probably in at least one fantasy football league. In fact there are over 41 million people playing fantasy sports in the U.S. and Canada this year.

There are a myriad of reasons why people participate. It’s a great way to meet friends or co-workers and build camaraderie, stay in contact with friends and former colleagues, and it adds a level of excitement to any game you’re watching – not just ones with your favorite team. Regardless of the reason, it’s fun and it’s something to talk about around the water cooler.

Fantasy football does have some drawbacks that companies are starting to notice, though. One statistic claims that 30 percent of fantasy football participants manage their teams while on office computers (I may be guilty of this… I hope my boss isn’t reading!).

Another recent stat from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consultancy firm out of Chicago, says that fantasy football may cost employers more than $13 billion in lost productivity, up from $6.5 billion from their same study in 2012. John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says in the study that he “fully acknowledges the absurdity of trying to put a firm dollar amount on lost work output resulting from the virtual competition.”

Does this mean you need to run down to your IT department and block every site running these leagues? Well, no. If employees aren’t spending time monitoring fantasy football, then they’re checking social media sites, getting the latest Hollywood gossip, online shopping – the list goes on. And these “extras” are important for employees to have in their lives. Employers should trust that they’ve hired the best people to get the job done, and for their employees to be their most productive selves, they need breathing room. As it is, 41% of employees feel guilty or stressed about taking time off from work. As Sir Richard Branson said, “If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your business.”

The fact is, we’re all bombarded by distractions! Think about possible repercussions of banning fantasy football or sports Websites in general. As Challenger puts it, “an across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites is likely to backfire and cause a drop in morale, loyalty and, ironically, productivity. The end result could be far worse than any loss of productivity caused by an hour or two of team management each week.”

Employers who trust their employees to get the job done will always be better rewarded than employers who feel they have to control every second of their workforce’s day from the moment they arrive, to the moment they clock out. Supporting a culture that gives employees some wiggle room in their schedule will help them be their most productive selves.

Let us know what you think of fantasy football as it pertains to your office culture in through Twitter or Facebook, and learn more about improving employees’ productivity without banning fantasy football by downloading the eBook, “4 Ways to Help Drive Employees Productivity.”

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!