As the air turns colder, the multicolored autumn leaves continue to fall, and our nation’s traditional Turkey Day quickly approaches, I reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for in our lives. And this year, that list—and those feelings of gratitude—are especially outsized.
Nearly two years into this global pandemic, we are all still going strong. As professionals, we have spent month upon month managing this new and unprecedented balance between our work and home lives, while at the same time taking special precautions to protect our health and the health of our loved ones—often with little or no added support.
And yet, despite these challenges, our work product has never been better. With meetings moving to Zoom, Skype and other videoconferencing solutions, we’ve had to be more intentional about them, ultimately making them more efficient and effective. Employees have maximized their productivity through remote-work arrangements, cutting out commutes and wasted time. Deadlines have been met, projects have been completed, and businesses have not just survived, but continue to thrive as we sail into 2022.
In other words, it’s never been more important to thank our people. They’re the true superstars of our businesses right now, and they deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their incredible fortitude.
Unfortunately, it’s clear that many workers around the country aren’t feeling that way right now. They are quitting in record numbers, leading to what businesspeople have dubbed the Great Resignation (more on that in the blog below). So how can we make them feel truly seen and appreciated?
At WAHVE, we’re well acquainted with how to make a diverse and geographically dispersed workforce feel connected, valued, and inspired. A few of our tips for creating this environment include:
Make it personal. Generic year-end gifts—such as food baskets, lunches, team outings, and swag—won’t cut it. “Appreciation gifts must evolve from generic handouts to something that is personal, meaningful, and memorable,” according to employee recognition firm O.C. Tanner.
Think about your employees and what might matter most to them right now. Maybe it’s an Amazon gift card, a subsidized membership at their local gym, ergonomic office equipment, extra days off, or a gift certificate to their favorite neighborhood coffee shop. You could even consider reaching out to them directly to ask them what they really want or need through surveys or manager outreach. Then follow through. You don’t have to spend a lot, but you do have to invest the time and energy to make it meaningful and show you care about them.
Call out specific wins. General lip service doesn’t help individuals feel seen. Managers should keep track of specific tasks, activities, and projects accomplished by their direct reports, as well as just admirable qualities exhibited by them, that the can specifically reference when thanking their staff.
Check in regularly. It can be easy to start feeling anonymous when you’re not meeting face-to-face as regularly. It can also be challenging emotionally. Check in with your people. Ask them not just about their work, but about how things are going for them personally, too. Also, offer your support and help. You want to position yourself as a caring resource who can help resolve pain points and help them succeed.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving—possibly even in person!—this year, it’s the perfect time to spread the gratitude and give thanks for our wonderful employees.