Author Archives: Liz King

6 Ways to Thank Employees Without Breaking the Budget

gThankYou! knows many ways to thank employees, especially on a budget!

(Photo via, Flickr)

Don’t let budget constraints keep you from recognizing employees! There are ways to thank employees affordably and effectively.

Recognition isn’t optional! Be sure your company’s employee recognition programs don’t go dormant because budgets are tight.

Companies that forego gratitude risk losing employees. According to survey cited by Fast Company, a majority of surveyed employees say they would leave their current jobs immediately for a company that clearly recognizes employees on a regular basis.

The good news is, rewarding employees and motivating performance “does not always require a tremendous outlay of money,” according to Inc. Even modest recognition programs have an impact when objectives are strategically aligned with corporate business goals.

Maybe you’re thinking: But my company’s budget is really small!

Don’t worry! “The real answer is there is no budget too small. Even if you have no budget funds, a thank-you note, paid time off or a company-wide email recognizing an employee’s efforts can make an impact on employee engagement,” according to the UsMotivation blog post, “How to Budget for Employee Recognition Programs.”

Read on for six ways to thank employees effectively — and still keep your accounting department happy!

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9 Great Beach Reads on Building Employee Happiness

Great reads for building employee happiness!

Grab a book to recharge your goals for building employee happiness. (Photo via jgoge123, Flickr)

Headed out for vacation? Pack  a book or two about building employee happiness! It’ll help recharge your engagement strategy for the coming year.

A calm environment is the best place to learn new perspectives and spark innovation — just ask Bill Gates!

Every year, the Microsoft co-founder goes into seclusion for a “think week.” During his week away from the daily grind, Gates reads up on big-picture analyses related to his current work and the future of technology.

A “think week” is different from a working vacation. Instead of trying to keep up with the daily stream of emails and decisions, the smartphone is off and you’re taking a bird’s-eye view of your industry and professional goals.

“If you can’t take a week off, even a day or a few hours away from the office can provide just enough time and perspective to provide insights,” writes Tanner Christensen in the 99U post, “Why You Need a ‘Think Week’ Like Bill Gates.”

If you’re looking for inspirational reading for your own “think week” or for a few quiet hours on the beach while on vacation, consider one of these thought-provoking books on employee engagement and building employee happiness!

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Savvy HR: Build Your Own Workplace Celebration!

gThankYou! is all about workplace celebration.

A build-your-own workplace celebration fits to your organization, your people and your values! (Photo via MoneyBlogNewz, Flickr)

Build your own workplace celebration and you’ll not only honor your company’s unique culture but enjoy the full benefits of recognizing employees!

Observing major holidays with coworkers is important — Thanksgiving in particular is a celebration that unites Americans — but not all holidays are a good fit for your specific company, workplace culture, local customs and employee preferences.

When you design and take ownership of a workplace celebration, you set down a culture building-block! Celebrations define our values and bring us together with the people who share those values.

Celebrations also energize our daily lives and our commitment to shared goals. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

That’s why a build-your-own workplace celebration means more. Since it’s customized, it sends a powerful message that your company values its unique culture and people. Read on for ideas to get started!

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Workplace Engagement in the Age of Digital Marketing

How does your company engage with employees in the digital workplace?“At a moment in time when everyone is perpetually in touch, it is more important than ever that employees are engaged in corporate culture.”

According to New York branding and marketing firm Desantis Breindel, we work in environments in which, “everyone knows everything at all times.”

In the midst of fast-paced communication and constant information exchange, transparency is the key to focusing on workplace engagement–with both employees and customers–in the digital age.


In the 1990s, marketers thought about digital marketing the same way they thought about billboards or posters in train stations. According to OneSpot CEO Steve Sachs, companies’ strategy was limited to finding sites with relevant traffic and flooding them with display ads. Since then, companies have learned that digital engagement doesn’t come from constant presence but rather provision. In “What Will Brand Engagement Look Like in 2020?,” Sachs points out that providing useful and valuable content is what really glues consumers to your brand.

“It’s a highly personal experience when a consumer receives a message on a digital platform, whether it’s on a PC or a mobile device, on the open web or in social media. For maximum impact, content needs to feel as personal and relevant as the delivery channel allows.”

Read more and discover the top three ways your workplace can stay on top of digital-age employee and consumer engagement.

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Boost Employee Happiness With Anonymous Feedback!

gThankYou is all about employee happiness!

Employee happiness improves when your workforce feels they are respected for their opinions. (Image via AJ Cann, Flickr)

A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests a developing connection between anonymous feedback surveys and real employee happiness.

Anonymity is the secret to these new tools’ success, according to tech columnist Christopher Mims’ article, “Bosses Use Anonymous Networks to Learn What Workers Really Want.”

Insights from anonymous employee feedback are changing corporate culture one suggestion at a time, according to Mims.

The irony? The rise of this constructive, successful anonymous feedback-gathering is coming exactly at a time when anonymity has a bad rep.

“On the Internet, it’s a given that anonymity often leads to the worst kinds of behavior,” Mims writes. “But human behavior is a funny and context-dependent thing.”

In the ecosystem of a workplace, anonymity actually helps! Read on to find out why, and to learn how companies with anonymous feedback-gathering apps have used them to boost employee happiness.

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Secrets to Building a Magnetic Culture with Kevin Sheridan

Building a Magnetic Culture like a Pro!

Kevin Sheridan, author of “Building A Magnetic Culture”. Photo courtesy of

What is a “magnetic culture”?

Kevin Sheridan coined this term during his decades of experience as an upper-level Human Capital Management consultant. He has helped some of the world’s largest corporations successfully rebuild workplace cultures to foster productivity, engagement and retention.

Now he’s one of the most sought-after voices on the subject of employee engagement. He shares secrets of his award-winning, industry-changing innovation in his two books, “Building A Magnetic Culture” and “The Virtual Manager.”

I was lucky enough to catch Sheridan recently for a phone conversation to discuss his secrets to building a magnetic workplace culture.

Liz King: Kevin, so what is a magnetic culture?

Kevin Sheridan: Well, we actually wound up trademarking that term at my own company because we thought it was synonymous with engagement. SHRM did a study of the C-suite and all the CHROs this year and asked them, “What’s the most important thing for 2015?” The results were crystal clear: talent attraction and talent retention. Those two things are synonymous with magnetic culture, because a magnet draws top talent in and makes it really tough for people to leave.

LK: For our readers, can you summarize why a magnetic culture is a strategic business advantage?

Oh boy, you know what? You’re going to want to take a look at a blog on my website — “A Compelling Business Case for Employee Engagement Initiatives.” It will walk you through all of the scientific links between engagement and business outcomes. I spent about a month pulling together all of the research on engagement and the scientific proof.

The reason I developed that, Liz, is that I’ve met so many HR people who are wrestling with the bean-counters in finance or accounting that look at the HR stuff as, “Oh, that’s that soft, fuzzy people crap,” as opposed to saying, “Wow, wait a minute, this is going to give us ROE — Return On Engagement. This is going to pay huge dividends.” And so what I did was I put together that blog so they can literally hand it off their finance people and say, “This isn’t warm and fuzzy. This is going to get you a bigger bottom line.”

When you’re dealing with HR people who have to sell senior management in investing in engagement, is it really the long list of compelling evidence, or are there a couple key attributes that tend to sell the deal?

KS: Well, let’s say you have a cold, calloused finance person that really doesn’t care about doing the right thing for their greatest “asset” — which is the most overused term about people — just show them the Wharton study. Build a world-class culture of engagement and you’ll make three and a half times more money than everybody else.  Profit sells.

"Building a Magnetic" Culture by Kevin SheridanLK: Can anybody, any business, build a magnetic culture?

KS: No. Only those organizations that have leadership that places a priority on it and then follows through with integrity.

LK: Awesome. I agree with you. For a manager who’s new to this and interested, but maybe hasn’t started, what are the key foundations that you need for building a magnetic culture?

KS: As I mentioned before, senior management commitment, educating yourself on the key drivers of employee engagement and leveraging them, and then measuring it. I’m a huge believer in measuring employee engagement by doing regular surveys.

Annual surveys will not only tell you which of work groups in my company are engaged, but also which are not, and then help you do something about it. Following through with actions is important.

LK: So when you work with workplace leaders, where do you typically start?

KS: I’ll start by assessing if there is true commitment at the top. If there’s not, I’ll probably tell the HR person, “You know, you’re going to waste your time here. Don’t even bother with an employee engagement survey, because you need to have that senior leadership commitment — not only to the survey, but also to what’s done afterward.”

If a company has never done an employee engagement survey, it’s so valuable. It sets the baseline from which you will improve.

LK: In the HR world right now, there’s a lot of talk that doing the annual survey isn’t enough, that you need to measure more frequently. Do you have point of view on that?

KS: I do, actually. That’s a big trend going on, Liz, and that’s a trend that I believe in. But what I don’t believe in is doing these surface, weekly surveys without doing the annual survey that will be coded by department and from which every single manager gets results for their work group. Doing the pulse surveys is fine if you just want to check the pulse on a global level — how are all employees feeling? — and then respond to it. That’s all great, but it does not supplant the value of doing the annual survey that’s coded by department and is a tool for managers charged with putting together meaningful action plans.

LK: Are best-practice companies training managers in engagement?

KS: They are, and boy, is there a need for that. It may come to you as shocking that only 60 percent of the managers out there say they have a handle on what engagement is. Sixty percent! And only 44 percent of employees even know what engagement is. You can’t build engagement if people don’t know what it is.

LK: How do you train management in how to engage? Does it vary dramatically across types of businesses, or do you find that it’s the same principles everywhere?

KS: It varies, depending on the industry, and some industries are more challenged than others. But the drivers of engagement, do they differ dramatically by industry? Absolutely not. They’re pretty common, especially the ones at the top, like recognition. There’s a desert of thank you’s out there.

LK: How do people find resources to do the two things you’re talking about — a high-quality employee engagement survey and good training for managers?

KS: Well, obviously, I promote my book as one of the great resources. I’m also a huge believer in Jim Collins’ work, “Good to Great.” I actually shared the podium with him last week at an event here in Chicago. It’s just a great book.

LK: Yes, it’s a fantastic book.

KS: And a lot of his messages are similar to mine. My advice for employee engagement would be: get passionate about it, live and breathe it, and then relish in the outcomes that you see or develop. And also measure it. You need to be doing measurement to find out, “Did our actions work? How much further do we need to go?” Set a goal, say, “I want to be Best in Class.” This is what I did at my old company. I owned HR Solutions for 18 years and I did 18 employee surveys across those 18 years and I learned something new every single time. When I sold my company, it was Best in Class. We were at the 93rd percentile.

LK: So where does someone go to find the likes of you, doing employee surveys? Is it a minefield, is there a lot of bad research out there? I think it’s pretty daunting to find resources if you don’t know market research.

KS: There’s a lot of bad research. The best thing they could do is ask an expert. If somebody’s looking for the right provider of an employee engagement survey and consulting, I can tell them who I would recommend strongly — who does great work, is innovative, ahead of the curve — and who to avoid. It is a minefield and I’m happy to help.

Interested in more from Kevin Sheridan? Visit his website and blog, order his books here and follow him on Twitter. He’s also available for speaking engagements. Have a specific issue of engagement or workplace culture you’re wondering about? He welcomes questions and consulting inquiries so connect with him!

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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.

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How Sharing Customer Feedback Boosts Employee Engagement

Boost employee engagement!

Positive customer feedback makes a big difference in customer service workers’ engagement!

Frontline employee engagement depends on making sure your workers hear positive customer feedback.

Gallup research of employee engagement trends across the U.S. reveals a distressing engagement gap between leaders and frontline employees.

A 2012 Gallup poll of employee engagement found that managers, executives and officials lead engagement while service workers rank near the bottom.

Feedback & the Engagement Gap

One explanation for this gap is how often each employee group hears customer feedback.

Typically, management sees the bird’s-eye view of customer feedback trends. Meanwhile, service workers hear “thanks” from customers but aren’t always privy to the full range of positive feedback that the company receives.

Service employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from hearing customer feedback. Non-management employees who don’t have direct contact with customers — including clerical staff, drivers and production workers — also report lower engagement than managers.

Eliminate the employee engagement gap and make sure your employees are hearing all the appreciation they deserve! Read on for three key ways sharing customer feedback increases employee engagement at all levels.

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8 Tips for Engaging Customer Service Workers

gThankYou! believes in engaging customer service workers!

Engaging customer service workers engages your customers and keeps them coming back. (Photo via audiolucistore, Flickr)

If you are in a service business, you know that engaging customer service workers is instrumental to keeping your customers happy and coming back.  Customer service is your front-line with customers and often the first impression of your business too.

Employees at every level perform better when engaged, but those working in customer service have unique job responsibilities and engagement needs that may not be fulfilled by general engagement programs.

Why make special investments in engaging customer service workers?

  • Customer service workers are the driving force of customer retention, regardless of industry or setting.
  • Service work is especially challenging, often requiring patience, quick problem-solving skills, and overtime.
  • Service workers are the face of your company and reflect company values to the public.
  • 70 percent of unhappy customers abandon the company because of poor service.
  • An engaged workforce increases profitability by more than 20 percent!

“The more your employees know you care about them as individuals, the more engaged they will be in their jobs and in providing an excellent customer experience,” writes Tom Smith in the Smart Customer Service article, “Empower Customer-Facing Employees to Engage Customers.”

“After all, your employees will only treat your customers as well as they are treated themselves,” Smith writes.

Read on for helpful tips for engaging customer service workers.

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Spark Workplace Fun on International Joke Day!

International Joke Day helps build workplace engagement

Happy International Joke Day!
(Photo via Flickr,

Happy International Joke Day! Time to break out your best knock-knock jokes, puns and one-liners!

International Joke Day, celebrated every July 1, is a great excuse to introduce and encourage humor, fun and camaraderie into your workplace.

It doesn’t matter if you or your coworkers aren’t comedians, or if punchlines always seem to escape your memory right when you need them. The point of International Joke Day isn’t to be clever or even laugh-out-loud funny — it’s to connect with other people in a silly, playful way.

Humor brings us together, breaks the ice, eases tension and ultimately helps coworkers work better together.

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Grow Your Business With A Fall Turkey Promotion!

gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificate

gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates have universal appeal and are good for ANY BRAND, at virtually ANY GROCER in the U.S.

Plan now for your Fall Turkey Promotion with gThankYou! and rest easy knowing you’ll be ready with an easy, effective way to grow your business this autumn.

A fall turkey promotion boosts your business during the ramp-up to the busy holiday shopping season, a key period for enticing new customers and thanking your loyal customers.

When you choose gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates for your fall turkey promotion, we make it easy for you to offer a practical, meaningful and seasonal gift of gratitude that has broad appeal!

Why Plan Early?

The holiday shopping season brings in a cool $1 trillion, or about 6 percent of the entire U.S. economy. For the retail industry, holiday shopping accounts for about 20 percent of annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

Choose a fall turkey promotion and you’re getting a head start on cultivating repeat customers as the holiday shopping season heats up.

When you start your promotions early, you have more time to connect with customers, get to know them and provide meaningful enticement for their return business. Shoppers start their planning early — so it’s important to start planning your promotions early, too.

By July, nearly half of shoppers in a Google survey had already made plans for when to purchase their holiday gifts and were already deciding on brands and products.

“Of those actively planning, 30 percent are expecting to start before Halloween, with 9 percent starting before Labor Day,” according to Think With Google bloggers Erin Dean, Jacalyn Stolt and Nina Thatcher.

Starting early is also an opportunity to reach the full 51 percent of shoppers who haven’t yet started planning or making purchasing decisions by mid-summer.

“With pervasive marketing efforts, you can get them thinking about the holidays — and your brand — before any others,” the Google team writes.

Finding repeat customers and keeping them happy are the bread and butter of business-building.

Steady customers help businesses weather lean economic times,” writes SumAll blogger Mark Uzunian. “Businesses with 40 percent repeat customers generated nearly 50 percent more revenue than similar businesses with only 10 percent repeat customers.”

Sharing a promotion gift or perk with first-time customers, especially on high-value purchases, increases the likelihood that they’ll become repeat customers, according to Uzunian.

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