I’m a father of young children. The days are nearing where Dr. Seuss books will begin to play a significant role in bedtime rituals I’m sure. Indeed, I’ve heard from a colleague of a brilliant idea for one of Dr. Seuss’ more famous books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! She has asked each of her daughter’s teachers to inscribe a message to her daughter in a copy of the book. She plans to present the book to her daughter upon her graduation from high school with these messages of praise and encouragement from those who helped shaped her daughter’s life, learning, and exposure to the bigger world during her formative years.
What a brilliant idea as well as brilliant metaphor for the power of messages of recognition and appreciation reviewed again long after originally given. Such messages can become a treasure to dip into when projects may run long, customers are unkind, or a quick reminder of the value of your work is needed.
And then I read about the opposite possibility, captured in a new parody version of the book – Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (As an Adult). (Read it on Huffington Post.) To summarize, adulthood is nothing more than an endless cycle of work, home, work, home, work, home… The main character ages and saddens before the reader’s eyes.
While a parody, I think there’s some truth in this book. If we allow “work” to be nothing more than “the place I go to earn a paycheck,” then the sad parody of Dr. Seuss can become more of a reality than we might like to admit. Work has no bigger meaning, no larger fulfilling purpose for us. And that is truly a tragedy. We spend more time at work and with work colleagues than we do with friends and family. That time investment should mean more than a paycheck.
The good news is, this does not need to be our reality. We all hold the power to create more human workplaces simply through expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the contributions of those around us. How does that work? Acknowledging the efforts of others invests those efforts with meaning, purpose and value. These messages convey, “I see you. I see what you do. Your work matters. You matter.” That is deeply compelling.
When those messages of thanks are also tied specifically to the core values of the organization, recipients gain further and deeper understanding of how their efforts are uniquely linked to achieving what matters most to the organization. This communicates, “What you do is not only noticed and appreciated but is also directly linked to what we’ve set out to achieve as an organization.”
The most recent SHRM/Globoforce 2015 Employee Recognition Report, “Culture as a Competitive Differentiator,” noted this as two of the key findings – one linked to the individual benefit and one to the corporate benefit:
“Values-based recognition programs are helping employers create a stronger culture and more human workplace. Values-based employee recognition is seen as significantly contributing to bottom-line organizational metrics.”
Recognition and appreciation matters. The report shows:
“HR professionals are beginning to see tangible long-term value in building a best-in-class work culture, predicated on strong relationships, an interest in employee happiness, and a strong emphasis on employee development. As they seek to create these best-in-class cultures, a majority of respondents say they are seeing strong results from their recognition and reward programs. And again, the strongest results come from those programs tied to company values.
“Employee happiness is one of the strongest results seen from recognition, with 86 percent of values-based programs citing an increase in worker happiness. This is closely followed by improvements in employee relationships (84 percent) and in adding more humanity to the workplace, overall (85 percent.)”
We have the opportunity to change our own perspective on work, of course. But we also have the power to help improve the perspective others, through the simple Power of Thanks.
What kind of culture do you have at your workplace? Are recognition and appreciation key components of your culture?
Image credit: runonsentence
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.