Tag: employee recognition

The Holiday Bonus: A Thing of the Past

Remember when the main question surrounding holiday bonuses was “How much?”  We all know that “How much?” has become “If.”  Whether the bonus was to award individuals for their performance, or just a holiday gift that all employees received, bonuses have been used to keep morale up and encourage performance.

With the state of many companies’ budgets today, they cannot afford to give these bonuses anymore.  So, when you’re considering giving bonuses this year, consider a few things first.

  • Is our budget big enough for this?
  • Is there an alternative form of appreciation we can give that will still drive productivity?
  • Will bonuses be company-wide or performance driven?
  • Is everyone involved?

If you do decide to continue with giving employees bonuses, it’s important to carefully structure the bonus plan.  Be sure that it’s fair and consistent throughout the entire company.  If there are any questions that can be anticipated, make sure that you can respond thoroughly and competently.  Also, never make any promises about the bonuses.  Make it clear often that these bonuses will be given at management’s discretion.  This way, the expectations of employees are kept at bay and people do not start to think that bonuses are owed to them.

Above all, remember that these bonuses are meant to recognize and appreciate employees.  If a monetary bonus is not feasible, think about other creative ways to recognize employees (time off, thank you notes, pay one bill for the employee, gas cards or even a simple ‘thank you’).

Who Fills Your Q-tip Container?

This past weekend I found myself doing a little home maintenance.  You know, the little things that no one else does or even think about:  The toilet paper holder was empty and needed to be reloaded (toilet paper roll was on the counter), the liquid soap dispenser was almost out of soap and needed to be refilled and the Q-tip container in the bathroom was down to the last cotton swab.  I thought to myself, “Am I the only one who notices these things?  What would they do without me?”  Well one thing is for sure, they would have poor hygiene and these things would be less convenient.

So how does this relate to the business world?  It made me think of workplaces where so many employees do simple things everyday and we take it for granted that it will be done.  We don’t think it’s a big deal because it’s a convenience and not a necessity.  For example, the person who always puts on a fresh pot of coffee, the person who always pushes in the desk chairs of others, the person who picks up the piece of litter on the walkway in front of the office.  These little things can make a difference and without them you would be subject to the wrath of the coffee addict, the office will look unkempt and the outside would be dirty and unwelcoming.  It is the actions of someone thinking and participating in the greater-good of the workplace community.  It is paying attention to details and thinking of the impact to others.

Now, go one step further with me and let’s tie this to business operations.  I thought of some of the past teammates that I worked with and the little things they did that made a difference.  For instance, I worked with a customer service rep that made it a point to at least touch base with a customer within an hour to let a customer know she was working on their issue.  I knew a project manager that always volunteered to take on the unexpected “extra” work to meet the customer expectations for the better of the team (and yes he had family commitments like others).  I knew a receptionist that called me regularly to ask if I needed any help because she had capacity to do more and she didn’t even report to me.  None of these things were in their job descriptions, it was just thoughtfulness.  These are little things that often get overlooked, but should be recognized.  When someone cares enough to do these things, you should care enough to say “Thanks!”  The heroes are obvious; the employee who gets the big sale, solves a major customer issue, or steps in when there is a crisis.  But the person who is an everyday hero as a result of reliably, consistency and thoughtfulness can often be overlooked.  I know we would all agree they provide value to workplace and/or to the customer experience.

Recognition can take on many forms including big bonus checks, lavish gifts and luxury vacations.  However in tough economic times, some of these may have been cut back or simply don’t make sense.  Remember the power of a simple thank you.  Appreciation is more than a gift, it is an expression of sincere thanks and the words alone can be enough to motivate and create loyalty.  I have been a part of several organizations where employees just wanted the senior leadership team to acknowledge the work they did and that was more important than a recognition gift.  Tell employees you appreciate them.

Of course your company can survive without some of these little things that people do, but perhaps it is these little things that make your workplace better than others.  Perhaps it is these little things that make your customers’ experience great versus good.

Just take a moment and think about who is filling your company’s Q-tip container without being asked.

Now, go thank them. 


A few days ago, I met with a small marketing company to provide some feedback on an HR-related product. As part of our introduction to each other, one of the owners took me on a tour of their office space. Just to keep this in perspective this was a fairly small, leased office space.

I was absolutely impressed. But not by what you might think. Yes, the office space was warm, welcoming, beautiful and the furniture was clean, current and comfy; but it was what the owner chose to point out and what he was telling me that struck me the most.

I realized very quickly the owner was not showing off the space, but rather the culture of the company. Here are some of the items that were most impressionable during the tour.

• There was a display of their Core Values with recent (within the last week) postings by employees recognizing the work or actions of other employees as it relates to one or more of the core values.

• The owner described why they had the cubicle style they chose which were both economical and functional to promote interaction with each other.

• The artwork on the wall was actually some messaging that they had used on a “coaster gift set” that they had given to their clients. Their gift had cultural meaning not just a trinket.

• A bulletin board displayed current storyboards or other work so that all employees could see the work product and accomplishments.

• There is a traveling award that is passed on among employees to recognize those learning and/or teaching.

• The staff has a daily (brief) morning meeting to assure all team members understand what is going on and the work priorities.

To some of you these may seem trivial but I was completely impressed. This is an organization of 13 employees. I have been witness to several organizations that are much larger with not nearly the focus or commitment to Core Values, culture and employee engagement.

Don’t let your space define your company. Define your space, culture and engage your employees. Just a few simple things can make the difference. Leadership of the organization sets this example.

What does your space say about you?