Do You Show Your Employees Appreciation?

Many employers are still feeling the strain of the economy crash and as a result, have to be tight on their money and resources. Unfortunately, because of this situation, the employers feel like they can’t properly compensate their hard working employees in the way they generously have in the past. However, although they can’t necessarily afford bonuses, promotions, or fancy rewards like they may have been able to previously, there are still ways to show your employees that they are appreciated. These simple options could easily increase the morale of your employees.

Here are some ideas to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts:

  • Give praise: let your employees know that you’re taking the time to notice their individual efforts. Give them praise for things they personally have done well in.
  • Share with others: it can make your employee feel good if you share your appreciation for them with others.
  • Say thank you: whether it is their duty or not, it’s always nice to receive a simple “thank you.”
  • Take a load off: maybe you can’t afford to give your employees a free day of PTO but you can always help lighten their load. For example, for an employee that put in exceptional work: delegate some of their tasks to others or take on some tasks yourself. Giving your employee an easy, light day can really make a difference in an employee’s day.
  • Set up an event: once again, maybe you can’t have a huge, paid-for event for your employees, but you can still do something for them. Set up times to do an inter-office potluck so employees can take a break at work, enjoy good food, and mingle with others. A small social event like that could increase happiness within the workplace.
  • Write a handwritten letter note: recently, I received handwritten card from my manager to let me know she appreciates all my hard work. It was a simple thing but knowing that she took the time to write a personal note to me really meant a lot to me.
  • Provide opportunity: promotions might not be an option right now but employees still will appreciate the opportunity for professional development. Give employees the opportunity to network with others in the company, to shadow for jobs they’re interested in, or to do different training/development workshops.

It’s simple but yet it still is effective. Employees will appreciate the effort you take to make them feel appreciated. You would be surprised at how it increases a positive environment and morale.

Links:

Employee Appreciation

Photo Source

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Is your Company “Perky”?

Last night, I was introduced to the #tchat on Twitter. It was the first Twitter chat that I’ve been involved in, so it was pretty interesting to see how ideas and feedback could be effectively expressed with only 140 characters. I was really impressed by all the great responses the members gave during the chat session that it actually helped spark the idea for today’s post, which is about company perks.

The basis of the chat was about companies with “extreme perks.” Now, I’m used to the usual perks of health care, Employee Assistance Programs, and paid time off. But in order to really get an idea of an “extreme perk”, I had to dig a bit deeper. I researched the 100 best companies to work for in 2012 and narrowed my investigation down to the top companies for the best unusual perks. Below are three companies from that list and the extreme/unusual perk that they offer:

1. Google (obviously)- If you’re a dabbler, you’ll enjoy their perks of: free gourmet food; an outdoor sports complex; “nap” pods; a bowling alley; celebrity visitors; and free android devices.
2. NetApp– If you’re “working on your fitness”, you’ll be sure to enjoy their perks of: basketball courts; massage rooms; exercise classes; outdoor sand volleyball; and the hub for different sporting tournaments.
3. Zappos.com– If you’re preparing for a “superhero” lifestyle, their version of “Employee of the Month” program is a perk for you: employee is named “Hero” of the month; a parade in their honor; noise makers and the “I Need a Hero” song played for them; a covered parking spot (Nevada is hot!); a Zappos gift card; and of course, no hero can go without a cape.

Perks can be a great thing for your company if used properly. They can attract talent or potentially help talent choose your company over a competitor. They can make the workplace more enjoyable to be at, thus reducing absenteeism. They can be used to recognize employees’ efforts, making them feel appreciated. It can help reduce stress in employees’ personal lives if they work long hours (i.e. on-site dry cleaning, cafeterias, on-site baby care). And it can be a tool to motivate employees to reach company goals.

Although these are some great ideas, they are only possible if you are a giant in the business world. If your business is not quite on that level yet, there are plenty of other options you can choose that will be better suited for your company. Some suggestions from #tchat’s members were:

• Doughnut or bagel day on Fridays.
• Gift cards given to an employee that went “above the call of duty.”
• Tickets to local sporting events.
• Giving a few hours of “free” PTO to the employee of the month.
• Randomly allowing “casual days” throughout the month.
• Creating a company team for your local sport and social club.
• Company events such as a picnic, in which employees can bring family and loved ones.
• Public “Fuzzies” (saying thanks to a teammate during a meeting).
• Or simply just saying thank you to your employees and giving specific reasons why you appreciate their work.

No matter how extreme or simple your company perks are, they can make all the difference to your employees. You may find it wise to ask your employees what they would want for a perk and try to incorporate it in your plan. Test a few out and see the positive difference it can make.

Links:
Google Perks
Zappo’s Heroes
NetApp’s Sports Hub

Putting Yourself Out There

As I was thinking about what I wanted to put in this post today, I realized that I’m surrounded by some pretty amazing people. Daily conversations with them have allowed me to easily come up with topics to write about. The theme of this weekend seemed to surround the idea of pursuing the things you want in life. Of course, going after the things you love and want can be terrifying and most people find ways to talk themselves out of doing it. However, sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and see what happens.

A few months ago I was talking to my cousin, Andrea Daniel, about work, life, and everything in between. She and I are a lot alike in the sense that we are the “wanderers” and “adventurers” of the family. She’s been a bit braver about going after the things she wants, though. She’s lived in multiple states, traveled a bunch, and even studied abroad on a cruise line to allow her to visit multiple countries. I’ve always been a bit more cautious for fear of failing, so I’ve always admired her courage to not hold back and also her relentless nature to roll with the punches.

In our conversation, she told me that if I really want to do something or really wanted to be somewhere, to just do it. She said to figure out a way to get where I needed to be and find a way to make it work once I got there. Going after the things you want in life aren’t always going to be easy and won’t happen overnight, but what kind of life would we lead if we never tried? Will there always be a part of us that tugs on our heartstrings, urging for more? Her advice has stayed with me and I’ve slowly started to follow it. Additionally, I’ve paid it forward and gave others the encouragement to put themselves out there.

First, I started with Jim Sweeney. Over the last six months I watched him get extremely excited about the idea to start a software development project that first specialized in apps and PC games, then eventually business software. He holds weekly meetings with the members of his group to go over ideas, recruit new members to fulfill different duties, and attempts to teach himself programming languages. I also saw him get a little deflated about the idea because he couldn’t find a programmer nor was he able to teach himself to be functional in coding on his own.

He was clearly passionate about it, seemed to love the idea of creating the software, and was trying hard to learn. So I asked him, “Why don’t you go back to school for it?” He told me that he didn’t have time to go back to school because he worked full-time. I wasn’t accepting that answer. I worked full-time the majority of the time I was going to school. I found a way to make it work by going to Thomas Edison State College. Of course, it took a bit longer to get my degree but I still got it.

Soon after our conversation, I introduced him to the college and now he is an enrolled student pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He will have his degree in about a year and I’ve never seen him happier. He knows that in 12 months he will have the capability to move forward with his project without having to rely on finding a programmer. It is empowering him to be able to make his dreams a reality from start to finish. Additionally, it would allow him to gain the skills to move forward with his current employer, Amazon.com.

Seeing someone who knows their dreams are within their reach can be inspiring. So, I took my own advice. Writing has always been a passion of mine but I never pursued it seriously because it always had a stigma that if you were a full-time writer, you would live the life of a starving artist (I don’t particularly like starving). Feeling like I would fail before I even started had me shy away from the idea in the past. But, like Andrea said, you need to just do it and make it work.

So here I am doing it. I haven’t been this mentally engaged or excited about something in a long time. Will the right person see this and offer me a job? Maybe. Will I end up paving my own way and make a career on my own doing this? Possibly. But even if neither of those things happens, the fact that these writings could potentially inspire even just a handful of people is enough for me. Making a difference in someone’s life by doing something I love is going to be marked off as a success in my book.

Now let’s fast forward to this weekend. My friend, Laura Grotzinger, just returned from a scuba-diving trip in Honduras. She was absolutely radiating with happiness and went on to discuss about how that trip got her back into doing photography and art. She went on to explain how she hoped to create photos, paintings, and inspirational posters using pictures from her travels and adventures. It was nice to see her doing the things she truly enjoys.

After she finally caught her breath from telling me all her wonderful stories, she took notice that I also seemed to have more of a positive demeanor since the last time she saw me. I told her about how I’ve been expressing my ideas through my blogging which has already allowed me to connect with some fascinating people who have introduced me to interesting concepts. I showed Laura how to use WordPress and she left my house even more ecstatic than when she first arrived (I didn’t think that was possible). She told me she couldn’t wait to create her own so she could display her art. Additionally, she planned on blogging about her other passion: travel. I watched her as she thoughtfully considered posts that intended on helping other travelers learn some tips for planning a trip. I hope her articles will help her land a dream job with Intrepid Travel one day.

So many people get discouraged from going after what they really want because those around them can sometimes be unintentionally unsupportive. The point of this posting is to show you that there is always a way and that it’s never too late. You can easily work on achieving your goals in your free time, step by step. It may be a slow process, but the fact of the matter is that you’re still doing it and that’s a win on its own. The first and most crucial step is to put yourself out there. Maybe those in your immediate circle aren’t giving you the support you need to take that step but trust me when I say that the world is big and you will find plenty of people to give you the encouragement and validation that you need. Give it a chance. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

With that being said, I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to my friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who have taken a moment out of their time to offer me kind words. That simple act of kindness and support has given me the courage to take that first step. I appreciate it beyond words.
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I’d love to hear more about your success stories or your plans to put yourself out there. Send me a tweet: @ashlaurenperez

Network with:
Andrea Daniel
Jim Sweeney
Laura Grotzinger’s Blog

http://laurasglobetrotting.com/
Companies/school mentioned:
Amazon.com
WordPress
Thomas Edison State College
Intrepid Travel