We’ve All Been There
All of us have worked jobs in the past where we were just a number, and if we lost that job or left it, we’d be replaced within weeks with another number who could do the same job. The only sense we had that we mattered at all was in terms of their payroll, and the paycheck was our thanks for the hard work.
While a paycheck is a sufficient reward for work done, it isn’t a fair reward. People have an intrinsic need to belong to a group, to have friends, to feel like they belong somewhere. Happy employees frequently say that their work feels more like a family, even if they don’t always like that family all the time.
It doesn’t feel good to be invisible, but inevitably – this is what happens to so many people who go to work every day, to repeat the same thing daily, unnoticed, and feeling unseen.
Motivation & Productivity
It’s no small wonder that motivation and productivity go up with things like time off and holidays, but what exists within the workplace to keep those feelings going during work?
Often it’s very little if anything. Some workplaces hold parties or have potluck days, to help show employees appreciation. Others don’t even bother, believing as many do, that a paycheck should be sufficient enough reward to work hard. But believing this is believing that people are simple creatures who only need money to be happy.
Clearly, humans are far more complex than this, so taking a simple approach is not only wrong but callous as well. We are not robots, and each person working brings a unique gift to the job, no matter how meaningless it might seem.
That young cashier at McDonald’s may have a gift for making people happy who see him smile, and his replacement may have no people skills at all. It’s just one example, but it should help provide food for thought about how many others this applies to.
Giving is a big part of appreciation and support, but it doesn’t have to be anything that costs money. People are often happy simply to be pulled into a supervisor’s office or a manager – and told they’re doing a fantastic job, with a couple examples to show that someone noticed and was paying attention.
This sort of thing, sprinkled around the office fosters goodwill, good attitudes, joy, and that ever-elusive sense of ‘family’ that so many businesses hope to find with their mix of employees.
You could also choose to give a small gift, but two things are critically important – you need to do this for everyone who you manage and you need to be genuine in your appraisal of the person.
If you’re handing out compliments based on actual things done, it is easier on the pocketbook, but you can run the risk of appearing disingenuine to your employees when you’ve done it more than 5 times.
Giving small gifts is more expensive when you have to buy for everyone, and is a nice gesture, but can be seen as buying loyalty by some. Make sure that whatever you choose to give, that it’s from the heart – from somewhere you are actually grateful these people choose to show up every day.
Support = So Much More
Support is a massive net, and it captures a lot of things like goodwill and kindness, compassion and care. More than this though, it shows that someone is valued in a way that many other things cannot do.
People have long said actions speak louder than words, and showing support is the easiest way to do it. If you’ve been thinking about jumping onto the influencer trend, the best way to do that is through support! That influencer relies on the support of their fans and followers, and if you’re just blindly adding them or following them only days before asking for their business to support your own, it may not hold much weight.
If, however, you follow that person or add them, and wait a few weeks or a month, and show your own support to them – you may have a much more favorable response. Support can also be choosing to sponsor your local sports team’s jerseys one year or to donate toward a charity run. When you show support to others and your community, you’re saying you’re more than just any business, you’re a business others should support because you got behind _______ cause, and bought a local school’s jerseys one year, and and and… it shows that you’re someone who can be trusted and should be!
Value is Complicated
Value is an extremely difficult one, and if you’re ever in need of a complicated book, check out “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. It’s not really about motorcycles, not really – it talks about quality & value quite a lot though.
Value is something different to everyone. If you offered a wealthy person a blanket when they were standing in the cold, they would find no value in it, and would certainly think you were strange for even offering it.
A homeless person, however, would find far greater value in that blanket and would keep it until it fell apart. For the homeless person, the blanket carries the value of a home with warmth, as well as carrying the emotion of the giver in giving it in the first place, which is also warming.
Each person lives such a vastly different life that there can be no two people who value the same things as each other. Our life experiences, and so much more paint what we see, smell, hear, touch, taste and a lot more for every person, and because of this – and the complex riot of emotions and thoughts we feel about each stimulus, we could never have the exact same experiences.
Therefore, we cannot possibly value the same things. If you know your audience, you will have some idea of what they value, but you’ll always need to keep in mind that people are all different, and what one may value another may not.
Ideas to Use
If you’re stuck on what to give, or what to say – try giving away something you’re already producing.
You could even give coffee gift certificates or cards, or something else to grant instant joy. The best gifts are the things people wouldn’t spend on themselves normally – so things which seem ‘frivolous’ or silly are probably perfect for this.
Desk deco like sticky note dispensers, flashy staplers, colored gel pens, most don’t cost much but bring a lot of fun to the workplace. If you’re stuck on the latter, what to say to your employees or potential partners, or anyone else you feel could use a bit of extra appreciation, we don’t have a perfect answer.
The reason it’s so hard to answer is that you know your employees, or should – better than anyone else could, and if you aren’t sure what to say there is little we can advise that would help. It has to come from your heart, and it has to be something real and meaningful to that person.
It doesn’t matter if that person’s impact is more like a feather dropping on the surface of a pond to your own bosses – in fact, it’s an even more compelling reason to show the person that they matter.