Improve your bottom-line with employee thank yous

Why are employee thank yous important? If done right, they create employee engagement.

What is engagement? 

gThankYou! Employee Thank You

Photo via Kelly Booth, Flickr

Employee engagement is the emotional investment the employee has in the organization and its goals. That’s from Employee Engagement for Everyone by New York Times bestselling author Kevin Kruse. Tom Short, co-CEO and founder of Kudos, includes the quote in HR.com’s ebook, Recognition and Engagement Excellence Essentials.

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Change Your Attitude, Change Workplace Culture

gThankYou workplace culture

A happy workplace culture thrives in an environment of positive attitudes. (Photo via Irina Patrascu, Flickr)

“It takes just a moment to change your attitude. And, in that quick moment, you can change your entire day.” — Author Unknown

A healthy workplace culture depends on a workforce that is committed to positive thinking. In honor of Positive Thinking Day (Sept. 13), take a moment to evaluate how a change in attitude could affect the culture, health and performance of your company.

What Positive Thinking Isn’t

Positive thinking is not a refusal to see reality. It also doesn’t mean pretending that everything’s hunk-dory when it’s not.

Positive thinking is a subtle shift in how you perceive reality and react to it. It’s a refusal to let minor mishaps totally derail an entire day.

We’ve all had those mornings: the coffeemaker breaks, traffic is a nightmare, a coworker doesn’t smile back, clearly because she dislikes you — and everything just goes downhill from there. By the time you reach the mid-afternoon client meeting, gloom and doom has settled over everyone around you. The client senses it, too, and is unhappy. In a matter of hours, a broken coffeemaker and lousy traffic has caused your company to lose business.

Now let’s look at that same morning through the lens of positive thinking: “The coffeemaker broke, so I tried a new tea at home and then treated myself to a coffee break later with a friend; traffic was a nightmare, so I focused on listening to an interesting podcast in the car; my coworker didn’t smile back, so I asked her how she was doing and she opened up about a problem she’s having at home that I was able to help her with.”

Positive Thinking = Positive Actions

Doctors at Mayo Clinic view positive thinking as a major tool in stress management, because it trains your brain to think productively.

“Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.”

The first step toward embracing positive thinking as a tool is to identify the types of negative thinking to which you most often succumb. Mayo Clinic staff identify these as:

  • Filtering — magnifying the negative aspects of a situation while filtering out the positive
  • Personalizing — automatically blaming yourself when something bad occurs, even when it isn’t at all personal
  • Catastrophizing — anticipating the worst
  • Polarizing — seeing things as “good” or “bad” (or as “perfect” or a “failure”), with no middle ground

Next, Mayo Clinic staff recommend turning your positive thoughts into actions. Negative thoughts lead to dead ends, while positive thinking seeks alternate routes and solutions. Periodically throughout the day, check your inner monologue for negative thinking. Encourage positive thinking in others and avoid falling into the trap of other people’s negative thinking. When things get tough, seek out and take joy in the humor of the situation.

The Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

Training yourself to think positively has profound psychological and physiological effects. Mayo Clinic’s list of the potential benefits includes lower rates of depression, greater resistance to the common cold, better coping skills, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and increased life span.

Although positive thinking is an individual practice, it’s infectious and spreads quickly in a group of people working together closely. It sets a tone. When positive thinking becomes the cornerstone attitude of a culture, the culture benefits collectively. Company leaders have the power to set that tone.

Remember that workplace culture is malleable.

Matt Rizai, CEO of Workiva, recently described the importance of this in a column for Forbes, “4 Ways To Build A Workplace Culture That Empowers People.”

“The past few years have seen a shift in the way people think about workplace culture. While culture was once viewed as something that emerged organically without thought or intention, there is a growing realization that culture plays a key role in the success or failure of organizations. Companies that are thoughtful in shaping their culture reap many benefits, such as the ability to attract and retain top talent and nurture loyal, satisfied customers,” he wrote.

Make positive thinking the defining characteristic of your workplace culture. To begin in this process today, pay attention to your own “self-talk.” Set alerts on your cellphone throughout the day and when they go off, take a quiet minute to reflect on your current self-talk and how it affects the people around you and your company.

Soon you will see the patterns of your thought process and where you (and others) could most could benefit from positive thinking.

A culture that practices positive thinking is building gratitude, too. For a step-by-step guide with other practical tips to get you started on building a vibrant culture of gratitude, download our FREE e-book, “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.” Click the image below and start sharing your workplace gratitude today!



About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Charity is Key to Retaining Talent – Especially Millennials

Retaining talent is critical to your bottom line, given the high cost – not to mention the time spent and lost productivity, of turnover.

Retaining talent via community service initiatives

Photo via Spartenberg Chamber of Commerce, Flickr

And as Noelle Knox and Maxwell Murphy write in “More Firms Use Charitable Programs as a Recruiting Tool,” CFOs say community service initiatives can help attract young job candidates. It can also help ensure they stay with your company.

That becomes more important every day. 

“There are an estimated 80 million young Americans who belong to the so-called millennial generation, roughly ages 18 to 35. By next year, they are expected to comprise 36% of the U.S. workforce, and by 2020, millennials will be nearly half of all workers.”

That’s from “7 Surprising Ways To Motivate Millennial Workers,” by Forbes staffer Jenna Goudreau. She continues:

“While millennials are the most educated and culturally diverse of any generation before them, they’re also notorious job-hoppers who dislike bureaucracy and distrust traditional hierarchies—leaving many business leaders scratching their heads. What motivates this rising cohort? How do you keep them engaged, earn their trust and get the most out them?”

One surprisingly easy way of retaining talent is to prioritize community service. A Pew Research study finds that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%), Goudreau writes. 

She cites Dan Epstein, CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro with a staff of 90% millennials.

“Allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. ‘In order to tap into their creative energy,’ Epstein says, ‘we need to be respectful of the things they care about.’”

Microsoft uses that strategy for retaining talent, notes Taylor Soper in “Microsoft sees charitable efforts as key recruiting tool for young talent.”

According to Soper, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, says “he ‘frequently’ hears from young interns and employees that Microsoft’s broad citizenship efforts are part of what people find attractive about the company.

‘The opportunity to work on great products and services is hugely important and always will be,” he says, ‘but they also really value the broader connections that a company has in the community.’”

 Microsoft publicizes its efforts prominently on its website.

“Each year, Microsoft matches contributions to all eligible nonprofits up to $12,000 per employee, as well as volunteer time at $17 per hour. On Thursday, the company passed $1 billion in donations to over 31,000 nonprofit and community organizations since the Giving Campaign’s inception in 1983.”

Google does the same, posting:

“Giving begins in the places where we live and work. We support local nonprofits in their efforts to make our neighborhoods and schools cleaner, safer and smarter.”

And also, “Each year we donate $100,000,000 in grants, 60,000 hours, $1 billion in products.”

Millennials are different, no doubt about it,” writes corporate trainer Bruce Mayhew in “How to Motivate Millennials.”

“They cannot be defined in general terms as we’ve often been able to get away with when speaking about Boomers and Gen Xers… but good people from any generation can be good employees if motivated.”

Well said. To retain young talent, we have to motivate them in ways meaningful to them.

For more great ideas on motivating all employees and building a great workplace, download our FREE ebook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving” now.



Download Free eBook: "The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving"



About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

When Does Employee Appreciation Become Taxable Employee Compensation?

Taxable employee appreciation?

A free cafeteria for employees, like this one at Google, could soon count as taxable income — and change how companies share their employee appreciation. (Photo via Kae Yen Wong, Flickr)

Employee appreciation at Silicon Valley companies could soon change, thanks to recent IRS scrutiny into the widespread and popular perk of free on-site cafeterias.

It was never exactly a free lunch to begin with — a meal always costs someone, somewhere — but stricter enforcement of current laws may require more employers and even employees to pay taxes on the buffet.

The news that free food could be up for taxation as a fringe benefit has everyone scratching their heads, from tax experts to HR executives to employees.

When exactly does employee appreciation become employee compensation? Is free cafeteria food employee compensation or is it a cost of business for these industries? Fringe benefits are a complex area of tax law, and the rules are still being clarified.

Wondering what this could mean for your company? Read on.

What are the current laws regarding meal perks?

Employer-provided meals are taxable as a fringe benefit, up to 30 percent of fair-market value. But there are exceptions, and until now the IRS hasn’t made taxing such perks a priority.

Companies are allowed to give food to employees if it’s “for the convenience of the employer,” but not if it’s simply for the employees’ happiness, according to Suzanne Lucas of Inc., in the article “Free Food Makes Employees Happy, So Naturally the IRS Wants to Tax It.” She breaks down what this means, in practice:

So, if your startup is in the middle of the Yukon Territory and it takes six days on dog sleds to get there, it’s for the employer’s convenience since the employees would take all their time just foraging for food. [...] It’s going to be difficult to make that same argument if you’re located in downtown San Francisco, with 14 restaurants on the same block.

What exactly is a “meal”?

Would a bag of bagels or platter of doughnuts at a morning meeting count? The IRS exempts doughnuts but counts bagels, stipulating that a bagel is “more like a meal than a snack,” according to The Washington Post.

In general, however, snacks or the occasional meal at a business meeting doesn’t count as taxable.

Just how much of a perk are the free cafeterias at Silicon Valley companies?

It’s a major perk. If “cafeteria” brings to mind squares of mystery casserole and lunch ladies in hairnets, think again. The cafeterias at Google, Twitter, Facebook and other tech companies are a step up. They offer truly gourmet dining, organic and chef-prepared, unlimited and at no cost.

Between its Manhattan, N.Y. and Mountain View, Calif. locations, Google alone has 35 canteens offering fresh meals — plus hundreds of pantry-like “micro-kitchens” stocked with snacks and beverages.

Bon Appetit, in a feature on Google cafeterias, puts it this way: “Imagine if your office pantry had a professional-grade espresso maker and a popcorn popper instead of a perpetually broken vending machine. Or if the company cafeteria served beer-braised short ribs and roast black rock cod with heirloom-tomato relish instead of soggy turkey sandwiches.”

But aren’t free cafeterias a necessary competitive advantage?

Silicon Valley companies would say yes. They make the case that free on-site cafeterias are vital to attracting and retaining an in-demand and limited talent pool. It also helps employees to work long hours, without the distraction of off-campus meal breaks.

“The market for tech workers is so hot right now that companies use every tactic they can to get the workers they want — not just extra pay,” writes Business Insider’s James Cook.

Does the competitive advantage apply to non-Silicon Valley, non-tech companies?

Free meal perks can matter at just about any company, experts say, and the government’s exemption for “employer convenience” is vague.

“If your employees are able to eat lunch and get back to their desks in 20 or 30 minutes, that’s a big time savings,” Washington, D.C. employee-benefits attorney Mary B. Hevener told the Washington Post. “The food is a lot healthier in many cases. And maybe you don’t want your employees running around in other eateries talking business.”

How is this issue developing?

It’s still up in the air. The IRS and the Treasury intend to focus on free meals as part of their tax priorities for the current tax year, according to James Cook of Business Insider. But no guidance or decision has been announced on taxation of meals. In the meantime, Cook predicts tech companies will join together to lobby to protect untaxed meal perks.

What’s the next step for companies interested in this issue?

Pending clear IRS guidelines, Suzanne Lucas of Inc. advises, “You need to check with your tax attorney on what the consequences could be for your company if you continue to offer free food. Then you’ll need to evaluate if that’s worth it to you and to your employees. Your employees will probably not be thrilled about a cut in their take-home pay, so you’ll probably need to consider ‘grossing up’ their salaries to account for the ‘free’ food that the IRS considers income.”

Taxed or untaxed, and no matter how big or small the investment, employee appreciation builds morale, motivation and a strong company culture.

To keep up with this unfolding story and the newest learning and best ideas for leaders to build great workplaces, subscribe to our blog today!

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About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

How to Make Employee Loyalty Work for You

In today’s business world, employee loyalty is a very powerful concept. 

David Javitch, president of Javitch Associates and an expert on the topic, emphasizes the concept in “Creating Loyal Employees” at entrepreneur.com.

Employee Loyalty

Loyal Market Basket employees and customers protest CEO Arthur T’s ouster. (Photo via Streamingmeemee, Flickr).

What Does Employee Loyalty Mean?

“Loyalty is the relationship between an employer and an employee—an abstract, often unwritten contract in which the employer agrees to provide the materials and resources the employee needs to get the job done, matched by the employee’s agreement to work at an optimal level to fulfill the goals of the company,” Javitch writes. 

Loyalty is a key reason many employees remain at their jobs, he adds. But if the contract—hard to build in the first place—gets broken, it’s very hard to rebuild the trust.

Why is Employee Loyalty Critical to Business Success?

Javitch explains it this way:

“Loyal staffers help create a history and a culture of stability; people who’ve been around awhile know the road, the rules and the ‘how it’s done around here.’ Loyalty reduces costly turnover rates … Loyal employees are usually also satisfied, productive employees.”

The Bottom Line Impact

In “The Top 11 Ways to Increase Your Employee Loyalty,” Kyle LaMalfa, senior business insight analyst at Allegiance, offers sobering statistics on the costs of lost loyalty.

  • Each year the average company loses 20-50% of its employee base – Bain & Company
  • Replacing a lost employee costs 150% of that person’s annual salary – Columbia University

How Do You Instill Employee Loyalty?

Citing Stephen Robbins, the author of Organizational Behavior, Javitch says it’s all about how you, the employer:

  • Behave
  • Treat your employees
  • Perform as a manager

Keys to Loyal Employees

First, Javitch writes, know what you’re doing. If you aren’t competent, you’ll get no respect. The other keys are:

  • If you don’t know the answer to something, be honest and ask for help. Don’t make excuses or blame others.
  • Demonstrate integrity in your actions and beliefs.
  • Behave consistently with your staff; show that you’re reliable and predictable, and that you use good judgment.
  • Display a willingness to protect your employees and help them save face.
  • Be as open with your employees as possible.

Employee Loyalty In Action

Arthur T. Demoulas, beloved CEO of privately owned supermarket chain Market Basket, was summarily ousted by his rival cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. After six weeks of employee protests and customer boycotts, “Arthur T.” was reinstated. What drove employee loyalty to Arthur T.? Even when their jobs were on the line?

In PBS News Hour’s “The Labor Day lessons of Market Basket,” Christopher Mackin breaks it down.

“From a pickup truck in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, side-by-side with a large, stuffed giraffe (which striking Market Basket employees had adopted as their mascot), Artie T. told employees Thursday that he loved them. “You have demonstrated to the world,” Artie. T. continued, “that it is a person’s moral obligation and social responsibility to protect the culture which provides an honorable and dignified place in which to work.”

To say that Arthur T. has earned the respect of Market Basket “associates” and the public at large would be the understatement of Labor Day 2014. Business schools and Hollywood will be eager to hear more about him in the months ahead.”

With jobs on the line, why are Market Basket employees so loyal to Artie T?

Market Basket employees aren’t union employees, and white collar managers are striking alongside the blue collar workers they supervise, rallying for Artie T.’s return, notes Simone Pathe in another PBS piece, “With jobs on the line, why are Market Basket employees so loyal to Artie T?

Artie T. cares, protesters say, not just about “his employees” in the abstract, but about individuals.

“From Arthur T.’s personal touch—the phone calls to workers, [visits to their hospital rooms,] and his attendance at their relatives’ funeral services—to the company’s profit-sharing system, employee scholarship program and generous wages (starting salaries for full-time clerks are $4 higher than Massachusetts’ minimum wage), it’s not hard to see why employees have been loyal to management under his leadership,” Pathe writes.

Instilling loyalty is mostly about treating employees like you’d want to be treated—the golden rule: Do unto others … it’s common sense and also good business sense.

Employee loyalty thrives in a culture of gratitude. For a step-by-step guide with practical tips to get you started on building a vibrant culture of gratitude, download our FREE e-book, “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.” Click the image below and start sharing your workplace gratitude today!



About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Easy Employee Thank You Gifts for Distributed Workforces

gThankYou employee thank you gifts

For a geographically scattered workforce, make sure employee thank you gifts still have a personal touch. (Photo via Marc Levin, Flickr)

Employee thank you gifts always benefit from a personal touch. That’s doubly true when you’re recognizing a distributed workforce — whether these employees work in satellite offices, from home, on the road or in warehouses or other facilities located away from company headquarters.

But how do you find that personal touch that means so much to gift recipients? Employee recognition for a distributed workforce can be a major challenge in logistics, not to mention tone and style. You’re tasked with organizing and managing gift-giving in a way that assures quality, consistency and fairness. And when you rarely have the opportunity to see distributed employees face-to-face or get to know them individually, meaningful gift-giving can feel anonymous and ineffective.

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Make Employee Appreciation a Cornerstone of Fall Planning

Employees, now more than ever, have become a key differentiator for companies, making employee appreciation critical to today’s business success.

As Aaron Lazenby, editor in chief of Profit, Oracle’s quarterly journal of business and technology, writes in Forbes Magazine, HR executives need to ask themselves whether they’re paying enough attention to the customer within (aka employees). His article is titled “The Customer Within: How ‘Employee Experience’ Is HR’s Competitive Differentiator.”

Employee Appreciation

System Staff Council Employee Appreciation Event (Photo via System Staff Council, Flickr)

He notes that skilled labor is demanding premium wages, benefits, and perks as a “skills gap” leaves many essential positions unfilled.

“In a highly competitive climate, it is imperative for executives to develop strategies to retain their top talent … Companies that win outperform others in their ability to connect and motivate [employees].”

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‘Thank-you Note Thursdays’ and Other Ideas for Fun Workplace Gratitude

workplace gratitude from gThankYou

Gratitude grows wherever people are laughing together. (Photo via Vladimir Yaitskiy, Flickr)

Workplace gratitude isn’t something you achieve or check off a to-do list. There’s never a moment when you can say, “Aha! We’ve got all the gratitude we need!” Given the right support, a workplace culture of gratitude is ever evolving and always growing stronger.

The question isn’t whether your company has or doesn’t have a culture of shared gratitude and appreciation. The question is: does your company consistently nurture the growth of such a culture?

That’s why it’s important to support employees to share gratitude every day. We’ve covered a lot of the day-to-day, longterm skill-building for workplace gratitude on this blog (see 7 Steps to a Culture of Gratitude, for example).

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Empower Supervisors to Be Employee Motivation Rockstars

employee motivation by gThankYou!

Good managers, like good coaches, know that motivation can’t be manufactured — it has to come from within each person. (Photo via WoodleyWonderworks, Flickr)

Employee motivation happens naturally when intermediate supervisors are engaged, according to the Dale Carnegie white paper  “Engaging Employees: What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters.” To produce the white paper, Dale Carnegie teamed with MSW Research to research the functional and emotional drivers of dedicated employees. It is available free to download here.

The personal relationship an employee has with his or her immediate supervisor is key to employee motivation, the study concluded: “The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged.”

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Celebrate Labor Day History with Employee Gratitude

gThankYou employee gratitude

Take a moment this Labor Day to reflect on your coworker and employee gratitude and on how far you’ve come together. (Photo via Edward Headington, Flickr)

If there was ever a holiday tailor-made for employee gratitude, it’s Labor Day. This national celebration of American workers isn’t just a three-day weekend to kick off the football season and have one last summer party before the school year begins in earnest.

It’s the perfect time to let your employees know how much you value them, their work and their contributions in the workplace.

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