Author Archives: Liz King

Weird Al’s Parody Shows How NOT to Do Workplace Gratitude

How Not to Do Workplace Gratitude by Weird Al Yankovic“Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest single is a great lesson in why heartfelt, personalized language matters when sharing workplace gratitude. The parody singer does a smart spoof of corporate jargon in his latest video, “Mission Statement,” from his new album Mandatory Fun.

It’s a folksy Crosby, Stills and Nash-style tune about how “we must all efficiently operationalize our strategies” and “leverage our core competencies,” set to the backdrop of a whiteboard animation. “Mission Statement” is a postlude to last week’s Mandatory Fun marathon, when Weird Al released a new song from his album each day, including spoofs of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

Why jargon can’t express true gratitude

Weird Al has stayed relevant in the music business for more than three decades  — unlike the business buzzwords he mocks, which come and go as fads.

“Mission Statement” is a fun reminder that the best workplace communication is genuine, heartfelt and personalized, particularly when it comes to sharing gratitude.

A meaningful thank-you note, for example, draws on specific examples of what you’re grateful for, in your own words.

Generic statements and platitudes come off as insincere when sharing gratitude, and nothing dries up the warm goodwill of a “thank you” like perceived insincerity. How would you feel if your newlywed friends sent out a generic thank-you note to all the wedding guests? Weird Al would agree that’s tacky.

Language matters when it comes to workplace gratitude, because it’s about a lot more than simply saying “thank you” — it’s also about how you describe your colleague’s work, how a company defines purpose and how leaders set the tone by practicing appreciation for others on a daily basis. Building a culture of gratitude requires us to pay attention to people.

The great thing is, the more we pay attention to and appreciate people, the less need we have for generic or trendy language. Our heartfelt thanks come naturally.

what’s so bad about jargon, anyway?

We’re all guilty of using corporate jargon from time to time, and hey, sometimes those buzzwords are actually clever or fit the situation.

The problem that can arise with jargon is with clarity, and expressing what you mean.

“Jargon masks real meaning,” Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, told Forbes for the 2012 My Say column, “The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon.”

“People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others,” Chatman said.

Take the phrase “giving 110 percent,” for example. Not only is it mathematically impossible for a person to give more than 100 percent of their efforts, it glosses over how exactly and how well a person dedicated themselves to a project. “Gives 110 percent” sounds like the attribute of a machine, not a human.

So instead of thanking an employee for “giving 110 percent,” you could thank her for staying late every night last week to make sure the portfolio was ready in time for the client meeting Monday morning. Or for figuring out a solution to a stubborn problem by doing the meticulous research no one else knew how to do.

Back up jargon with ‘honest, clear talk’

What’s so genius about Weird Al’s parody is that he gets the very people he’s mocking in on the joke with him — and they love it. The “Mission Statement” video was produced by TruScribe, a leading producer of whiteboard animation videos (the popular production technique of having an artist illustrate on a whiteboard what’s being said in real time). Coincidentally, we’re proud that TruScribe is located right here in gThankYou’s hometown of Madison, Wis.!

TruScribe chief innovation officer Eric Oakland told a local newspaper that Weird Al’s parody is an opportunity to learn.

We were a little worried that we were going to make everyone feel bad because we were making fun of corporate jargon. For most people we work with, this language is a necessity, because jargon is part of how things get communicated. The other side of it is that we see this as an opportunity. Weird Al’s song points out that if the language is hollow and fake, people are going to see right through it. So it fits right in with what we try to do with clients; even if there’s jargon, it is backed up with honest, clear talk.

So, next time you find yourself tempted to use jargon, particularly when sharing gratitude, ask yourself if the words fit the context and if you can find a simpler, more honest way of saying what you mean.

For more on building an amazing culture of employee appreciation and success, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your jargon-free gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

Why Workplace Generosity Matters

Workplace Generosity Image

Workplace generosity is a powerful business strategy that works on multiple levels. (Image via Flickr.com/pictoquotes)

Workplace generosity operates on multiple levels, making it one of the most powerful forces in business. It’s relevant on an individual level (are you a giver, matcher or taker?). And, it’s a cultural ethic that can define a company from within, in the community and as a customer-engagement strategy.

Let’s unpeel the layers of workplace gratitude.

Corporate Giving

The need for generosity is more urgent than ever. A recent survey of charitable giving among American corporations found that companies were tight with their cash in 2013, despite soaring profits. Generosity isn’t keeping up with profits, as Forbes writer Susan Adams discusses in her analysis of The Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s annual survey of corporate giving.

At a time when corporate profits surged to an all-time high of $1.9 trillion in 2013, according to the Chronicle, up more than 5% over the previous year, corporate cash giving rose less than 3%, to $4.6 billion.

However, when employee volunteerism and product donations are lumped in with cash donations, corporate giving actually rose 17.2 percent in 2013, to 18.7 billion. Great news, but unfortunately not much comfort to cash-strapped nonprofits.

While American companies appear generous when seen through the total-giving lens, Stacey Palmer, the Chronicle’s editor, says that nonprofits most need cash donations, and the data on cash increases is disappointing. “Non-profits have been looking to corporations for support,” she says. “They’re hoping that companies will do more to open their wallets.”

The good news is that highly charitable companies don’t seem to be hurt by giving away money and in fact show signs of strength and growth. Topping the Chronicle’s “Most Generous” list — in terms of percentage of profit — is Alcoa, the New York-based aluminum company. In 2013, Alcoa gave away $39 million, or 12.1 percent of its profits.

Despite this charitable giving, Alcoa reported increased revenues in the most recent quarter. Generosity, it seems, is business as usual for Alcoa. The company’s extensive community giving program, a combination of cash charity and volunteer efforts, goes back six decades. The program description puts it this way:

Long before “sustainability” or “corporate social responsibility” became part of the business vernacular, Alcoa and all Alcoa employees understood the value of earning a social license to operate.

Generous Energy

Generosity is “one of the core qualities people look for in their leaders,” as Forbes contributor Erika Anderson writes in the article “Why Generosity Works Better In Business,”.

From a psychological standpoint, generosity behaves like electricity. Judith Orloff, author and UCLA psychiatry professor, says generosity is a key element in emotional health and wealth. In fact, after basic investments and savings are taken care of, she advises that generosity should be a core financial strategy.

“Generosity is an expansive energy,” Orloff writes for Psychology Today. “As Norman Lear told me [...], ‘You receive as you give. But you have to expend energy to get energy. Electricity happens from rubbing two wires together.’”

Stinginess, in comparison, is constrictive, she says. A tit-for-tat mentality is a small-minded approach that “sabotages abundance.”

Companies that use generosity as a customer engagement strategy demonstrate how the energy/electricity analogy works. Giving, it turns out, is a growth strategy, too. Growth strategist and Harvard Business Review contributor Eddie Yoon describes in the article “The Generosity Strategies that Help Companies Grow” how companies like Netflix, Costco and Nordstrom’s gratify and keep loyal customers by being generous.

What form this generosity takes looks different for each of the companies, according to Yoon: Netflix rewards customers by releasing all episodes at once of its binge-worthy, original entertainment like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black; Costco offers a “veritable free lunch buffet with its samples”; and Nordstrom’s has generous return policies and much beloved customer service.

“Here’s the singular theme that is common across these brands,” Yoon writes. “They are all great products and experiences. And they know that giving you a little taste of something great will have you coming back for a lot more — at full price.”

Generating Generosity

This generous strategy for customer engagement is so powerful that it easily permeates company culture and affects employee pride and engagement. As Yoon writes, “The etymological root of generosity is the same as genesis, genius, and generate. Generous companies appear to be proud of what they make.”

This is where we get to the core of workplace gratitude, and why experts like Orloff compare it to an “expansive energy.” When a company’s leaders and business strategies are dedicated to generosity, employees respond in kind. It fosters an overall workplace culture of generosity.

Adam Grant, author of the book Give and Take, describes generosity as contagious. In an interview with Fast Company, he says, “Givers see the best in people and communicate in ways that build trust and show respect for other people’s perspectives. [...P]eople want to be more like them — following this lead, spreading this norm, modeling this behavior.”

If generosity can have such a powerful effect from leaders, think what effect a company has where giving is the norm. Smart business strategies and big corporate gifts may make the news, but positive everyday interactions of generosity and the collective drive to work together are what make companies strong.

For more on building a workplace culture of gratitude, respect and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

The HubSpot Model for Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement Reigns Supreme at HubspotWhen it comes to employee engagement, HubSpot is counted among the best. The inbound marketing innovator, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, rakes in honors as an employer. Most recently, the company made Glassdoor’s 2014 Employees’ Choice Awards for Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For.

Current and former employees glow about HubSpot on Glassdoor, where it has an overall 4.1/5 rating:

“The people HubSpot employs are incredibly intelligent and require you to bring your A-game every day. The learning environment is spectacular and everyone is willing to answer your questions. HubTalks are always a great time and the seemingly unlimited free food in the kitchen is a plus. Just make sure not to OD on candy.”

“You can feel the energy and sense of purpose as soon as you arrive.”

“Great culture, people and benefits.”

“HubSpot is the hot spot.”

So, what’s HubSpot’s secret to building an engaged workplace culture? Fortunately for the rest of us, the company is remarkably transparent about how it works. In reading HubSpot blog posts like “How to Create 200 Hours of Marketing Content in One Night” and “The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love,” it quickly becomes apparent how intentional the company is about its culture and work ethic.

This is a company that takes employee engagement seriously, and in doing so, provides the rest of us some fantastic (and specific!) guidelines for how to improve.

Here are some key takeaways from HubSpot about smart employee engagement:

1. Know Why Culture Matters Today

Culture is at the core of human motivation, happiness and engagement. Borrowing from the tech lexicon, HubSpot describes workplace culture as a company’s “operating system.”

And yet the very definition of what makes a good workplace culture has transformed dramatically in the past decade. Previously, workplace culture was based on lifelong tenure, bosses, 9-to-5 hours in an office and accruing a nice pension.

Now we think of workplace culture in terms of the meaning it brings to our lives and how well we collaborate with our colleagues. A job now can last a week, a year or five years. It can happen in an office, at home or on the beach.

Our approach to workplace culture has to change with the times. HubSpot wants purpose to matter more than paychecks and great colleagues to matter more than who’s in charge. The company sums up its cultural mission like this:

Employee Engagement HubSpot Style

 

2. Hire Smart

“Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing,” according to the 135-slide manifesto on HubSpot culture. This is where we get into a self-reinforcing feedback loop: an engaged culture is based on hiring engaged people, and engaged people are attracted to an engaged culture.

Hiring smart means being completely honest about who you are. HubSpot doesn’t sugarcoat that it’s a demanding employer with high standards. The benefits are great, but it takes a certain drive and caliber to meet the HubSpot ideal. Transparency about internal culture means you’ll be attracting the right kind of people — people who know what they’re getting into and are prepared and eager to contribute.

3. Identify Purpose, Distribute Widely

In HubSpot’s case, the company purpose is to serve the customer and share an evangelical dedication to inbound marketing. “Solve for the Customer (SFTC)” is a HubSpot motto and it drives everything the company does.

Again, an engaged culture relies on transparency. Business success happens when everyone knows the company purpose and is fully informed and well-versed in the reasoning and goals behind it.

HubSpot believes our societal concept of power has changed along with changes in workplace culture:

Importance of shared knowledge: Employee Engagement Bests

4. Embrace Change

Change is the theme of the emerging workplace culture — changing jobs, flexible locations, flexible hours — so the ability to adapt is paramount.

HubSpot encourages adaptability among its employees with a “seat shuffle” every three months. A large part of the HubSpot staff takes part in this musical chairs. Why? “It reflects our ‘change is constant’ credo. It also circumvents a lot of needless politics.”

5. Create an Environment for Creativity and Competition

To see how this works on a small, intense scale, check out HubSpot’s step-by-step guide to hosting a “hack night.” This, in microcosm, is the template of the HubSpot culture: competitive but collaborative, regimented but creative and intense but fun.

6. Have Leaders Who Walk the Talk

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah don’t lock themselves in a CEO suite dispersing advice from on high while doing whatever they want. They are hands-on, democratic leaders who share their vision for the company frequently and openly.

Most importantly, they model the behavior they espouse.

Halligan told Business Insider last year, “We’re trying to create an extremely flat organization, an extremely transparent organization, and there’s all sorts of things we do around that. I think that if you were in the company, on a day-to-day basis, you’d have a hard time figuring out that I was the CEO of the company versus just one of the employees.”

7. Invest in People (Even After They Leave)

In today’s fast-paced, flexible working environment, many people choose to stay with companies for just a few years. That’s fine, in HubSpot’s estimation. In fact, the company invests in and supports former employees: “We call them HubSpot Alumni. We expect them to go on to do more amazing things. We want them as friends and advocates forever.” HubSpot will help former employees by reviewing their startup pitches, for example.

It’s a continuation of the support the company offers its current employees, too. HubSpot views this as an investment in “individual mastery and market value.” This includes continual opportunities for learning and exposure to new ideas and challenges.

The Payoff

It pays to take employee engagement and workplace culture so seriously. Even in 2012, barely six years after it was founded, Forbes reported that HubSpot was serving 6,000 clients. It raked in $29 million in revenue in 2011, up 81 percent from 2010. Meanwhile, HubSpot alumni and veteran employees make the news for their innovative projects and startups.

It’s not surprising that HubSpot’s highly engaged culture breeds success. Study after study shows a direct correlation between employee engagement and business performance.

For more on building an amazing culture of employee engagement and success, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

5 Mini Case Studies to Inspire Workplace Gratitude

workplace gratitude in action

Workplace gratitude can be shared in many creative ways, but it must be sincere and meaningful. (Photo via Flickr.com/betsyweber)

Workplace gratitude is deceptively simple — just say “thank you” and mean it, right? — and yet it’s also just as easy to get into a rut with it.

Every few months, we scour the news for mini case studies of workplace gratitude. These are examples of company leaders who demonstrate refreshing, creative ways to say “thank you” to employees, while also maintaining a bottom line of effectiveness.

Don’t let your recognition program go stale;  get your creative juices flowing with these real world examples of workplace gratitude in action. After all, a vibrant work environment begins with a healthy culture of workplace gratitude!

1. The Chair That Keeps On Giving

A Long Island, New York school district bid a longtime employee goodbye in June with a gift four decades in the making.

Carl James, 79, retired in June after 54 years working for the Riverhead public school district. His career began as a school custodian in 1960, when Dwight Eisenhower was president, gas cost 31 cents a gallon and you could mail a letter for 4 cents. He soon moved up the ladder to head custodian.

At a farewell reception last month, the school board honored James with a plaque embossed with a group photo of the February 1960 custodial staff. The board also shared a more unique gift: his desk chair for the past 40 years, squeaky-wheeled and duct-taped from decades of use.

It may have been worn-out and essentially worthless, but as a farewell gift — combined with the ceremony, speeches and plaque — it was a symbolic gesture of goodwill, love and respect for James’ decades of work in the district.

2. ‘Ha Ha’ Thank You

An amusement park in Hong Kong called Ocean Park has found success hosting Laughter Yoga sessions for its 2,000 employees.

Laughter Yoga involves self-induced laughter, relaxation techniques and yogic breathing. Since the body cannot tell the difference between fake and real laughter, the practice has the same effect as a good session of regular laughter. It boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and burns calories.

The practice disrupts the normal working environment and changes how employees interact with one another, teacher Mahesh Pamnani tells NTD.tv: “When they are doing Laughter Yoga with us, they actually love it and want to express appreciation and gratitude, but somehow in the workplace they think ‘oh, I don’t think it looks that good.’ So that builds very good relationships. Productivity goes up, creativity goes up.”

3. Before the 3,187-Word Manifesto, a Thank You

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently unleashed a 3,187-word memo on his employees about his vision for the future of the company. It’s bold, comprehensive and rousing. Business Insider has a synopsis and the highlights.

What caught our eye is the way Nadella begins his manifesto (bolding added): “As we start FY15, I want to thank you for all of your contributions this past year. I’m proud of what we collectively achieved even as we drove significant changes in our business and organization. It’s energizing to feel the momentum and enthusiasm building.”

Before he dives into what he expects of the company and his employees, he takes a paragraph to express his gratitude, pride and enthusiasm to them. It’s a nice gesture — and an effective one. Sharing gratitude is a proven way to boost productivity and get people jazzed for work. It comes down to brain chemicals: giving and receiving thanks actually releases the feel-good hormone dopamine, as Inc. reports.

4. Milwaukee’s ‘Downtown Employee Appreciation Week’

The Downtown Milwaukee Business Improvement District has a great idea for showing gratitude to employees who work in the city’s central neighborhoods. Now in its ninth year, Downtown Employee Appreciation Week kicks off this year on July 28.

It offers employees in the area a week’s worth of extra perks and chances to gather communally: a free pancake breakfast, giveaways and prizes, games, a volleyball tournament, the “world’s largest coffee break” and “grandest happy hour,” and a “Suits and Sneakers” benefit day for the American Cancer Society.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s BizTalk blog has more details on the event.

5. All in a Day’s Play

In the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area, “It’s not uncommon to see grown men and women jumping on trampolines and climbing ropes” and even learning the sport of curling, the Associated Press reports. Since the economic downturn, businesses in the area have taken to engaging employees with play activities. Other popular activities include golfing, softball, bowling, beanbag tosses, chili and dessert cook-offs,  volunteering and “marshmallow golf” (putt-putt with a weightless puff).

With everyone working harder than ever, these casual, fun and even child-like activities help everyone relax, bond with coworkers and get happy. As an additional bonus, many of the company leaders agree that engaging employees with play actually increases productivity and on-the-job creativity.

To read more inspiring news stories of workplace gratitude in action, read our previous post on the topic, which includes a mini case study of a Seattle restaurant owner who developed an ongoing way to share meaningful gratitude with his kitchen staff and waitstaff.

For more on building a culture of employee happiness, appreciation and productivity, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

A Compelling Case for Work-Life Balance

Want to hear a compelling argument for the importance of work-life balance? Ask your children, or your employees’ children.

A little girl, the daughter of a Google employee, wrote the tech giant a letter in blue crayon a few weeks ago asking that he get some time off this summer.

Work-life balance example - letter by Katie

Katie, most certainly the future star of her high school debate team, makes a solid argument for work-life balance: “It is summer, you know.”

The letter reads (minor spelling mistakes corrected — let’s give Katie a break):

Dear Google worker,
Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on Wednesday. Because daddy only gets a day off on Saturday.
From, Katie
P.S. It is daddy’s BIRTHDAY!
P.P.S. It is summer, you know.

She got a response shortly from none other than her dad’s boss, Senior Design Manager Daniel Shiplacoff.

Work-life balance -Google response

Shiplacoff deserves kudos for honoring Katie’s request and for even taking it a step farther: Katie’s dad got to take the whole first week of July off. It demonstrates his recognition of the importance of work-life balance for employees and the value of a happy, well-rested workforce to a company’s overall well-being, reputation, productivity and employee retention.

Let’s break down Katie’s stellar arguments for time off one by one:

1) More than one day off a week is reasonable and even necessary.

When labor reformists campaigned for the weekend a little over a century ago, they argued for the restorative effects of time off. Employees who are given this reasonable amount of time off each week to recoup, refresh and refocus return to work more productive than ever. Whether days off are split (Wednesdays and Saturdays, for example), or lumped together into a traditional weekend, the effect is the same. Our minds and bodies are not computers, and we need time to replenish our drive.

Taking full advantage of time off is up to employees, however. Dr. Matthew Sleeth, a former ER physician, argues in a CNN article, “The Importance of a ‘Stop Day,’” that we’re doing ourselves a disservice by jam-packing every minute of our weekends with activities and being busy. He advocates for a return to the traditional “stop” day. Here in the U.S., we typically think of this as Sunday, based on Christian teachings that dictate a Sabbath or “day of rest.” Secularly, a “stop” day is simply a day of disconnection from the daily grind.

“It’s interesting that if I took somebody in the emergency department and gave them a big slug of adrenaline,” Sleeth tells CNN, “you’ll find that an hour later they’re just wiped out, and that’ll really persist throughout the day. I think that’s what we’re doing to ourselves. We’re constantly bringing stress into our life, and the idea of having one day a week that I can count on to stop is very reassuring.”

2) It’s her dad’s birthday.

Spending time with family and friends recharges us and realigns our priorities when we’ve run ourselves ragged meeting other people’s priorities or trying the meet the work goals we set for ourselves. Too much work leaves us resentful. A break with the people we love, especially on landmark occasions like a birthday, refuels the energy and spirit we need to work.

When your employees or coworkers return from sharing a special occasion with family, such as a wedding, birthday or anniversary, it’s the perfect chance to connect on a personal level. Not only is it interesting to learn about people on a friendly level — and simply a nice thing to do — these moments of connection leave employees feeling more valued and invested in their workplace.

3. Summer is for kicking back a little.

As much as many of us would enjoy it, work can’t grind to a halt in the summer. But that’s no reason to keep employees glued to their work for long hours when the outdoors and backyard barbecues beckon. Keeping employees happy and working hard during the summer months is all about finding a healthy work-life balance.

For more on developing a summer work-life balance at your company, check out our recent post, “4 Strategies for Maintaining Employee Motivation During the Summer.”

And hey, smile! It is summer, you know. Have a great week, everyone.

For more on building a culture of employee happiness, balance and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

5 Takeaways From Top Cities for Employee Satisfaction

employee satisfaction report - Glassdoor logoWhat do the top cities in Glassdoor‘s “50 Best Cities for Employee Satisfaction” have in common? Not geography, though nice weather certainly doesn’t seem to hurt a city’s grade.

Topping the list is, unsurprisingly, the epicenter of the Silicon Valley, San Jose, CA, home to forward-thinking, tech-focused companies like Google, Yahoo, Adobe, Apple and Tesla, among others.

But having a concentration of cool tech giants isn’t a prerequisite for a city to make Glassdoor’s annual list. Overall, the most in-demand jobs in top cities run the gamut from customer service and cooking to project management and business analysis.

The report is based on a survey of employees in the largest 50 metro areas in the U.S.

Where is your closest metro area ranked? In which city is your industry most needed? Look through the full Employment Satisfaction Report Card by City (2014).

Let’s dig in a little to find the characteristics shared by Glassdoor’s top cities for employee satisfaction and what makes local employees so happy. What are the takeaways for companies looking to improve employee satisfaction or expand?

employee satisfaction

Accessibility, a vibrant culture and innovative companies that care about their workers make San Jose, CA, the #1 city for employee satisfaction. (Photo via the_tahoe_guy, Flickr)

1. Make It Easy for Employees to Get to Work

Employee-friendly cities make it easy to get to and from work by being compact and offering reliable public transportation. In a Glassdoor video of on-the-street interviews with San Jose workers, one man comments on how close the suburbs are to central San Jose. Before he moved to the area, he was commuting an hour and a half daily. Now, he says, “I get an hour and a half of my life back every single day and I love that.”

Wherever your company is located, you can make it easier for employees to get to work by offering carpooling opportunities and discounts on public transportation. Nobody does their best work after an hour’s drive through nerve-fraying rush hour traffic.

2. Be Innovative

Not every company can be as flashy as Google or Tesla, but innovation is still a valuable workplace trait no matter the industry. The best companies know that staying competitive means encouraging an atmosphere of risk-taking, fresh ideas, competition and collaboration. For tips, check out Inc’s “8 Ways to Foster Innovation in Your Company.”

3. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Innovation grows from the overall environment, not just within the walls of a workplace. That’s why it’s important to give your employees the time to enjoy what the city around you has to offer, from parks to theater. If they feel pressured to work unreasonable hours, take on too many projects or otherwise spread themselves too thin, they won’t be doing their best work or enjoying their life outside of work. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Work-life balance fosters employee satisfaction, productivity and innovation. Need more reasons? See our past posts on the topic, such as “5 Tips for Taking Work-Life Balance Seriously,” or for tons of quick ideas, “25 Ways to Improve Employees’ Work-Life Balance.”

4. Give Employees Reason to Be Optimistic

Optimism is one of the factors Glassdoor took into consideration for its report. While San Jose ranked #1 overall, Salt Lake City ranked #1 for optimism.

“Fifty-two percent of Salt Lake City employees believe business will improve in the next six months. Local employees report several benefits of working in Salt Lake City, including enjoying a healthy work-life balance, in part comprised of working reasonable hours and being able to take advantage of the beautiful city and outdoors.”

Employee satisfaction

Glassdoor ranks Salt Lake City #1 for employee optimism. (Photo via Flickr user countylemonade)

Does your company communicate its successes and offer employees opportunities for advancement? Satisfied employees are optimistic about the future. Be sure to give your employees good reasons to look forward. This is particularly important now as the news is filled with reports of a rocky recovery from the Great Recession.

5. Listen to Employees

“Employees are really satisfied because I think employers really do what they can to try to accommodate the employees, top to bottom,” one San Jose worker told a Glassdoor surveyor, in explaining the city’s top ranking.

Before a company can accommodate employee needs, it has to know what those needs are. Ask — and listen. Listening is a great skill to practice in the workplace, and in fact listening was a theme at this year’s SHRM conference. Read more in our blog, “SHRM 2014: Transformation Begins With Listening.”

What other patterns do you notice in the Glassdoor city rankings? Do you think your metro area is ranked too low or too high?

For more on building a culture of employee satisfaction, happiness and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.

Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

Time Off Actually Boosts Employee Productivity

employee productivity depends on downtime

Taking time off isn’t just relaxing, it’s essential to employee productivity. (Photo via Dan Boot, Flickr)

Employee productivity depends on regular downtime as much as our daily functioning depends on nightly sleep. It seems counterintuitive at first — after all, more work is more work, right?

Not exactly. Research is now confirming what we’ve instinctively known all along, that our minds and bodies suffer when we push ourselves to work longer hours, skip vacation, and check email one last time before bed.

In the early 1980s, about 2 to 4 percent of Americans suffered anxiety disorder. Now almost 50 percent do, according to recent studies discussed in Timi Gustafson’s Huffington Post Healthy Living column, “Taking Time Off Can Improve Health and Productivity.” We’re working more, taking less vacation and paying the price with our health.

Resisting time off not only hurts our health, productivity and retention, it also has a surprisingly harmful effect on the economy at large.

Yet U.S. workers continue to skip vacation days. More than 40 percent of workers who received paid time off did not take all of their allotted time in 2013, according to a study by Oxford Economics commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association. American workers last year chose not to use 429 million days of paid time off, or 3.2 days per worker.

In a Forbes report on the study, Tanya Mohn summarized a key finding: If American workers used all of their paid days off, the economy “would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.”

Interestingly, the study revealed a gap between what managers believe and employees perceive. “Most managers recognize the benefits of taking leave, namely higher productivity, stronger workplace morale and greater employee retention, as well as significant health benefits,” the report stated.

But that’s not what employees perceived, the study found.

Nearly 34 percent of employees indicated that their employer neither encourages nor discourages leave, and 17 percent of managers consider employees who take all of their leave to be less dedicated. Four in ten American workers said their employer supported time off, but their heavy workload kept them from using their earned days.

It’s easy to see how this communication breakdown could occur. Business leaders typically feel an intense responsibility to take care of others and make sure everything goes to plan. But it’s just as important for them to disconnect and take time off, too — and to model this attitude to their employees.

Life coach and former attorney Tejal Patel says on her weekly vlog that she recently struggled a bit to trust that her business would run smoothly when she went on vacation: “It was surprisingly quite difficult for me to disconnect … I felt, wow, if I’m gone, what are my employees going to do? Are they going to be OK? I really needed to get in a place of relaxing, (of) trusting my employees.”

employee productivity needs downtime - beach scene

Go ahead, relax a little. Taking time off is restorative. (Photo via Micky Zlimen, Flickr)

Patel recommends making “time off” a daily routine, setting aside time when you don’t take calls or respond to texts or emails. It’s important, she says, to keep this time sacred and let family, friends and coworkers know ahead of time that you won’t be available.

Here are some other tips on maximizing the full benefits of time off, for yourself and for overall employee productivity:

1. Roll with the seasons. Jason Fried, founder and CEO of 37signals, recommends a lightened workload in the summer months. Particularly in the Midwest and in other areas of the country with strong seasonal changes, he says it doesn’t make sense to ask employees to work the same hours month in and month out. Bonus: the limited hours his employees do work in the summer become ultra-focused and productive, he says.

2. Plan ahead. Totally disconnecting from work takes advance planning, says Washington Post blogger Tom Fox. “If you had a major task or event coming up at work, I suspect you would develop a plan, define clear roles and responsibilities, establish milestones, block out time and then hold a debriefing after all is said and done,” he says. The same is true of vacation.

3. Focus on family and friends. If the lure of work is overpowering, distract yourself by committing to quality time with the people who matter most to you. “Make sure your loved ones become the center of your vacation experience,” advises Alex Antonatos in a LinkedIn blog post.

4. Make time off a habit. As Patel points out, it’s important to make time off part of your daily or weekly routine. Disconnecting on vacation will seem a lot more natural if you’re used to it. That’s why Minda Zetlin, co-author of The Geek Gap, recommends “short play breaks,” more frequent vacations and even midday naps.

5. Forgive yourself if you “slip.” You’re not blowing an entire vacation if you spend 15 minutes checking email in the morning, so be forgiving of yourself and do what you need to do, says Deseret New’s Greg Kratz. Still, he adds, it’s important to set a strict time limit for yourself so you don’t get too carried away.

For more on building a culture of health, happiness and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

3 Ways Ice Cream Builds Employee Engagement (and Happiness)

Ice Cream as Employee Engagement

Make employee engagement fun in the summer with ice cream. It isn’t just a childhood treat. (Photo via Lovin’ Scoopful, Flickr)

Happy July — and National Ice Cream Month! This is the month to celebrate our love of all things ice cream. Today, July 1, is even National Creative Flavor Ice Cream Day.

Ice cream is a lot like a good employee engagement program: it brings people together, makes everyone feel happy and is endlessly creative.

That doesn’t mean you can drop off a tub of vanilla in the break room with a scoop and expect magic. But ice cream as a vehicle for employee engagement is powerful. Not only is it just plain fun and delicious, ice cream reminds us of happy memories that we share with other people — our parents, our kids, our siblings growing up, or maybe an early date night with our significant other. It’s special. It’s a treat.

Let’s look at how ice cream can be a great team-building activity, reward for hard work and overall boost to employee satisfaction.

1. Ice Cream Is An Equal-Opportunity Palate Pleaser

There aren’t many foods we can share communally these days without running up against dietary preferences or restrictions. Ice cream comes in so many fantastic variations that it really is possible to include everyone, even those with dairy/egg allergies. Consider the options:

  • Frozen yogurt
  • Frozen custard
  • Sorbet (bonus: good for those with allergies and easy to make at home!)
  • Gelato (a milkier, Italian variation on ice cream)
  • Frozen scoopable treats made with alternative milks like coconut, almond, soy, and even goat.
employee engagment bests - ice cream

Everyone’s inner-kid loves ice cream. (Photo via Jereme Rauckman, Flickr)

If you’re organizing an ice cream social, ask for input on everyone’s favorite ice cream variation. However people prefer their ‘scream, it’s hugely popular in the U.S. The average American consumes 48 pints of ice cream every year, more than any other country, according to IceCream.com’s Fun Facts. Leading the way nationally in ice cream consumption are the citizens of Portland, Ore., so the rest of us have some catching up to do!

2. Encourage Camaraderie and Creativity with a Flavor “Bake-Off”

Summer can be a pretty blah season at work, with large numbers out on vacation, watching the clock for the weekend or distracted by the World Cup. Spark some excitement by organizing a team contest for the best unique ice cream flavor. Get creative juices going with this list of incredible (and possibly disgusting) ice cream flavors curated by a foodie blogger at Joonbug. The flavor list includes lobster, pizza, balsamic strawberry, Red Hot banana and chocolate-covered bacon. Find even more recipe inspiration here, like Lemon Basil Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Talking about food is an excellent ice-breaker or get-to-know-you activity for employees. Throwing in a competitive element will get people strategizing and working together — and laughing together.

(For more on keeping employees engaged in vacation season, check out our recent post “4 Strategies for Maintaining Employee Motivation During the Summer.”)

employee engagement ice cream thank you note

Share your gratitude with ice cream. (Image via Jon Ashcroft, Flickr)

3. Ice Cream Says ‘Thank You’

Taking someone out for ice cream is the classic way to reward him or her for a job well done. It isn’t a one-way token of gratitude that you simply give. It’s a shared experience.

If you handle an employee rewards program for a large company where taking each and every employee out together for ice cream is logistically impossible, you can still share the experience with a gThankYou Ice Cream Gift Certificate of Gratitude. Our gift certificates for ice cream — in any amount you like, even $5 — are a perfect way to share gratitude and share in our communal love of ice cream. They can be tucked in an envelope, shared with a handshake or used to accompany and augment a small wrapped gift.

Ice cream gift certificates are also good to keep on hand for those times when you want to share a performance-based reward individually or with a specific team, in keeping with the latest best practices. Spontaneous, performance-based rewards are a growing trend in employee recognition.

For more on building a culture of happiness and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

SHRM 2014: Transformation Begins With Listening

SHRM 2014 Annual Conference

The power of listening is evident in engaged workplaces that are open to positive transformation. (Photo via Highways Agency, Flickr)

“Come Prepared, Leave Transformed” is the theme of the SHRM 2014 Annual Conference, which continues through this Wednesday, June 25. This theme got us thinking about the power of listening in employee engagement — and how listening is the first step toward transformation.

The late Karl A. Menniger, psychiatrist and pioneering mental health advocate, wrote a beautiful passage about the importance of listening to the overall process of change.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

Listening isn’t just for friends, or between psychiatrist and patient. In the recent SHRM video, “Transformation Requires Listening,” an HR manager illustrates with a personal story how vital listening is in the workplace, too.

Teresa Vaughn, vice president of HR at Johnson & Johnson Insurance, describes an encounter she had with one of her company’s longtime truck drivers. Noticing he was obviously in distress, she invited him into her office to talk, asked him what was going on and was surprised to learn, among other details, that he was illiterate. That day, she connected him with the right resources and help. Much later, she ran into him at a SHRM chapter meeting and was delighted to learn he was the speaker that day as a representative with a nearby college’s literacy program.

Not only can he read now, he was speaking in front of groups about his journey out of illiteracy.

“It made me feel awesome about what I did,” she reflects in the video. It all started when she took the time to listen.

Vaughn’s story illustrates, on a micro level, why listening is the first step toward positive workplace transformation. Multiply her story by the number of employees at your company and the interactions you have with each other, and you’ll see how the power of listening works on a macro level to build an engaged, happy workforce.

Active listening, which we’ve covered before, engages a conversation by requiring the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker. This is a fantastic way to focus on what’s being said and respond to the speaker without adding your own opinion or value judgment.

Consider these situations in which active listening or other types of listening are useful in a workplace setting and can actually help transform your company culture into one of empathy, creativity and collaboration.

Sounding Board — Leaders are expected to quickly find solutions to a company’s toughest problems. So, what happens if you take off your Solutions Hat and just listen? Vanessa Merit Nornberg, founder of the jewelry company Metal Mafia, wrote last year in Inc. about how valuable it can be to listen “without always trying to fix things.” She reflected, “Smart people are usually able to work out their own solutions, but they still need a sounding board from time to time, so they can vent a little and perform their own self-check before re-finding the path to productivity.”

Anger Defuser — Always remember, when confronted with an angry customer, employee or coworker, that simply listening is your best bet for calming the situation. “People often become angry or aggressive only after a lengthy period of not feeling acknowledged,” according to this Eastern Washington University guide to defusing anger. You may be shocked by how effective the power of listening is to cooling down an angry person. More often than not, the person will become reasonable, rational and even apologetic after you give them the space to blow off steam.

Gratitude Builder — Nothing beats saying “thanks,” but you really build a culture of gratitude with employees and coworkers when you also show genuine interest in their work. Everyone wants to feel pride in their work and wants to know that their work makes a difference to others. Give them the space to do this: ask specifics about their favorite projects, what they’re especially proud of and where they think improvements are needed. Transformation begins with conversations like this, so start asking — and listening!

For more on building a culture of respect and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.

Engaging Generation Z or How to Recognize Your Summer Interns

Engaging Generation Z - Your Summer Interns

Intern recognition helps build the engaged workforce of the future. (Photo via University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, Flickr)

Move over, Millennials. The very youngest employees now entering the workplace are among the members of Generation Z, or those born between about 1990 and 2000. Your company’s interns are likely in this group, and like all workers, should be part of your recognition program. Intern recognition and engaging Generation Z is unique in several important ways as we’ll cover later in this post.

First, let’s look at who Gen Z’ers are and how they’re different from their older siblings, parents and grandparents. Consider this quote:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

These aren’t the words of a modern-day observer. They’re attributed to classical Greek philosopher Socrates, describing more than 2,000 years ago the youth of his day. Young people have always and will always occasionally get under the skin of their elders, and all discussion about “generations” should be taken with a grain of salt — not everyone fits the mold, after all.

That said, there are certain traits and views shaped by the shared experiences of people who grow up in the same time period. For Gen Z, the defining events of their young lives are 9/11, the Great Recession and reports of school violence.

They’re realists, according to Forbes’ On Marketing. The dark events of their youth “will undoubtedly make them more cautious and security-minded, but will also inspire them to improve the world.”

Bruce Tulgan tells SHRM Online in the article, “Generation Z: Why HR Must Be Prepared for Its Arrival,” that in contrast to Gen Y, which came of age in the relatively peaceful and prosperous ’90s, “Generation Z grew up post-9/11 and came of age in a time of fear and awareness of vulnerability.”

They’re also enthusiastic, ready to contribute and highly ambitious (which puts them on track to be even more entrepreneurial than Gen Y, as career and workplace expert Dan Schawbel predicts).

Tulgan, founder of consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, is the author of a white paper, Meet Generation Z: The Second Generation Within the Giant ‘Millennial’ Cohort. It’s a quick, informative read — highly recommended for anyone managing today’s teens and early twentysomethings — and is available to view/download here.

Those born since 1990 already represent nearly 7 percent of the workforce, or more than 11 million people, according to Tulgan. Their numbers in the workforce are expected to swell to 30 million by 2019.

In the white paper, Tulgan writes that Gen Z “simultaneously grew up way too fast and never grew up at all. Their access to information, ideas, images and sounds is completely without precedent. At the same time, they are isolated and scheduled to a degree that children have never been.”

In a USA Today interview, he sums up the effects on Gen Z of these factors: “What I tell people is that nowadays, 12 is the new 19 and 30 is the new 20. That’s the best way of explaining what is happening.”

What this means for engagement and recognition, especially for interns, can be described in one word: intensive. Recognition has always been best when it is frequent, specific and personal, and that is doubly true for Gen Z’ers. Here are specific tips for encouraging and engaging Generation Z interns in your workplace

Recognition Tips for Engaging Generation Z

Individual Focus

“Focus on the individual. That’s what they are used to, and it’s probably how they made their recognition-worthy contribution anyway,” advises That’s Great News blogger Amy Day.

Reward Achievements in Learning

Day also recommends giving credit for education and learning achievement. Especially for interns, it is important to encourage further on-the-job learning and growth. Keep in mind that Gen Z has a reputation for not having basic workplace skills such as interpersonal communication, problem solving and time management and your interns will likely need reinforcement in this area.

Negotiate Transactional Rewards

Rewards are best shared with Gen Z on an ongoing transactional basis. “Gen Z’ers seem to be highly responsive to clearly defined exchanges of time/tasks for directly calibrated rewards,” Tulgan writes, and managers should “explicitly negotiate performance and reward on an ongoing basis in a transparent open exchange.”

Say ‘Thank You’ Publicly

When it comes to thanking interns, involve elements of tech and social media. Check out, for instance, what Survey Monkey did last year to thank its summer interns at the end of the season. On the Survey Monkey blog, the company posted a thank-you note and invited the interns to describe in their own words what they did over the summer and what it meant to them.

This show of gratitude works so well because a) it’s collaborative, b) it recognizes individual contributions but diplomatically does not single out any one intern for praise, and c) it’s online and public so the interns can share the link with their friends and family.

Thank You Notes Are the New Black

With all the emphasis on public recognition, don’t forget to also share a private thank you note with each intern. A handwritten note works best. Generational tastes may change over the years but thank you letters never go out of style (and in fact their rarity nowadays gives them extra cache).

For more on building a culture of gratitude and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!

Download Free eBook, "Workplace Gratitude" by gThankYou!

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.