Kyle Bailey is CEO of NuVinAira franchise-backed company that uses proprietary technology to create healthy automotive interiors.
With the holidays just around the corner, showing gratitude can be more important than usual for many of us. We all need recognition for good work – and not just once a year. Showing sincere thanks can help leaders build morale, increase empathy, and increase camaraderie. It has even been discovered that those who practice showing gratitude can get profound health benefits himself.
You never know how you could affect someone’s life through an act of gratitude. The goal for leaders should be to “surprise and surprise” employees all year round. Here are seven ideas to inspire you this Thanksgiving season and beyond.
1. Four major milestones.
Birthdays and anniversaries are the perfect occasions to make memories. There are hundreds of ways to do this, but even simple things like singing “Happy Birthday” during a group video call can go a long way in building bonds and strengthening corporate culture.
If the mind moves you, don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with it. For example, every time our group sings ‘Happy Birthday’, I accompany them on my harmonica (which I play with great enthusiasm). People have come to rely on these little breaks and they look forward to singing together because it’s a time to relax and have fun.
2. Surprise people with an extra PTO day or a spot bonus.
Everyone loves an unexpected gift, and the priceless gift of time has become a hot item. Extra paid time off is a perfect way to say “thank you” during the busy holidays or any time of the year.
I’ve found that spot bonuses, when used sparingly, can also help build loyalty and appreciation, and you never know how your gift could change someone’s life. We once gave a spot bonus to an employee, and later we learned that he used the money to make a down payment on a house – something he’d wanted to do for years. Providing these opportunities may help your team members make their dreams come true.
3. Reward those who are rarely in the spotlight.
It is important to thank people at all levels of the organisation. For example, we wanted a way to celebrate behind-the-scenes achievements at NuVinAir, so we created the “NuWarrior” award. The aim of the award is to put the spotlight on the company’s most heroic team members. Recipients receive a hand-forged “battle hammer” symbolizing their guts, steadfastness and overall contributions to our mission. The award is given to people who support the backbone of the business and who otherwise may not have received the recognition they deserve.
4. Send a useful gift.
When you decide to send a thank you note, think about the day-to-day work experience of your employees. Gifts that are helpful to remote workers might include a home office allowance, a self-heating coffee mug, or a ring light to enhance video calling. In contrast, employees who have just returned to the office may appreciate a gift card to a popular retailer or a discount card for transportation. There are also several online gift services for businesses that allow people to choose the gift that is most useful to them from a catalog of possible options.
5. Gather your people around a goal.
Making charitable contributions on behalf of employees can be incredibly motivating. For example, last year we decided to challenge our sales force by committing to donating all the revenue we’ve earned over and above our monthly goal. On the last day of the month, we had about $50,000 off reaching our goal. The team rose to the challenge and exceeded our target. Together we decided to contribute the surplus to a non-profit. The organization’s development director came to our office to discuss the meaningful work they do. We were all moved by his presentation and at the end of it we were able to hand him a check.
Projects like these can make you realize that giving back is a gift to both the recipient and the giver. These are the moments that can boost your culture, and they are moments that everyone will remember.
6. Send a note.
A simple, handwritten thank you note sent in the mail has become a rare and precious gift. This old-fashioned gesture, which takes just a few extra minutes of your time, can make your message stand out in the fast-paced world of texting, instant messaging, and email.
7. Tell employees exactly why you are grateful.
When you thank your team member, be specific in your praise. For example: “Thank you for developing the annual report. I know it took you a lot of time, and the results really resonated with our new board members’ goes well beyond a generic phrase like ‘Thank you for all you do’.
If your team has achieved a goal together, be sure to thank your team members individually for their contributions, as well as the group as a whole. And don’t forget to acknowledge their achievements on social media as well.
Not everything can be measured in terms of data points, but I’ve seen firsthand how gratitude helps sustain an organization. The process of thanking can help etch the soul and heart of your company, and in doing so it can improve overall morale, employee retention, and work effectiveness.
Now is the time to review your gratitude practices at work. How can you affect someone’s life in a small or big way? What shall you do to make someone’s day a little bit better?