Recognizing staff that are making a solid effort to build upon the success of their organization is a critical component of a smart business philosophy. In these days of dwindling budgets and economic uncertainty, how does an employer best meet this challenge? It may be time to look for opportunities to create new ways to reward staff for being loyal and productive.
There are several things that I have found to be extremely successful in making employees feel like they are appreciated and an important part of the team. As a leader, I have the opportunity to be a role model and set the tone for the culture and pace of the agency. I subscribe to a friendly and open leadership style by asking staff questions, being interested in their day-to-day activities, and allowing them to ask me questions. As a result, they walk away feeling more confident and valued. If staff needs to air an issue they feel is very important to them or the agency, I believe they feel comfortable taking that step.
Key areas of teambuilding at our agency include:
1. Monthly birthday celebrations: Each month we recognize employee birthdays by providing cake and ice cream for all staff. A conference room is decorated and everyone is encouraged to join us to enjoy the treat and sing happy birthday. It’s a nice break from the business of the day.
2. Holiday visits: For those employees who work shifts on Christmas, New Year’s Day and other widely recognized holidays, I make it a point to visit our work sites that are staffed, whether it’s Customer Service or Operations, to greet them with holiday wishes. They are usually surprised when I walk in the door on a day that they would expect me to be at home with family.
3. Birthday cards: I like to recognize the birthdays of each staff member by writing them a note and including a $10 gift card for the local movie theatre. Although it is nominal, it is really appreciated.
4. All-staff meetings: Quarterly update meetings with special treats help bring employees together for an open forum. Senior managers give employees an appropriate platform to ask questions.
5. Team activity: We continue to seek opportunities to work together as a team outside of the office. Staff was asked to volunteer, and bring their families along, to work at a local food bank on a Saturday. That was probably one of the best team-building experiences I’ve encountered and we will definitely do it again.
6. Transit roadeos: These are very effective at team building because the planning requires a lot of coordination and compromise, as well as pulling many different resources together from various agencies and outside contractors to accomplish a single goal. It is also another opportunity to meet co-workers’ families, which makes us all a little more human. We temporarily suspended the roadeo in 2009 due to budgetary concerns, but hope we can begin to plan our next one in the near future.
The common ingredient in these activities is communication and sincerity. Events, visits and special recognition open the door to conversation, which makes a person feel important and inspires greater team effort.